AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently showed courage by speaking out and calling for others to stand for social justice, instead of being passively tolerant or claiming to be colorblind. Since its creation, the powerful phrase “Black Lives Matter” has often been discredited and replaced with empty platitudes such as “All Lives Matter,” proving the insanity of people still not able to understand injustice and inequity are still faced every day by many in this country.
The Black Lives Matter movement got a well-received shout-out from Stephenson during his speech at an ERG conference. He condemned the All Lives Matter ideology, stating that it was divisive and did more harm than good.
“When the president says ‘God bless America,’ we don’t say ‘Shouldn’t God bless all countries?’ And when a person struggling with what’s been broadcast in our airwaves says ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we should not say ‘All Lives Matter,’ Stephenson said.
The CEO seemed well aware of people’s tendency to focus on the discomfort of a given form of protest instead of on the painful reasons behind it.
“When we talk about race, let’s begin the discussion with ‘Why?’ Why does my colleague feel this way? If we could understand why it’s so much more likely that we could begin to agree on what needs to be done,” he said.
Stephenson gave his employees a powerful challenge.
“This is really important. I’m not asking you to be tolerant of each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant requires nothing from you but to be quiet and not make waves, holding tightly to your views and judgments without being challenged. Do not tolerate each other. Work hard, move into uncharted territory and understand each other,” he implored the audience.
The speech obviously made quite an impression with his employees, who erupted in cheers. Hopefully, his message will also be backed up with action by those who heard it, and also by the company itself.