After intentionally providing time and space for voices of the underrepresented, we at Kotter feel compelled to speak out. The consistent and growing number of killings of unarmed Black men and women by law enforcement serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our country. The video of George Floyd’s murder has shocked our conscience and understandably provoked protests and outrage around the world. These deaths are symptomatic of a much larger and systemic issue – the racism that permeates our society. These very difficult issues of economic disparity and racial inequality have arisen over hundreds of years and will not be solved overnight. But, as with all complex change, we know progress can be made in the near term and it is essential that we begin now.

It is time for leaders – government, business and spiritual – to acknowledge and begin to address institutional racism in our society. This is less about identifying the racists among us, and more about acknowledging the racism and colorism within us and the systems and structures which have consistently disadvantaged people of color. It is important to acknowledge the role white privilege plays and contributes to systemic racism. This does not mean that white people have not had to overcome challenges and adversity to achieve success. It simply means that skin color has not been one of those challenges. We commit to continuing the dialogue until real progress is made.

Here at Kotter:

  • We stand firmly against any and all forms of racism.
  • We believe systemic racism exists and are committed to identifying it and eliminating it from our own organization.
  • We believe that all lives will not matter unless and until Black Lives Matter.
  • We are against all police brutality and all abuses of power and we support important and necessary reforms to our policing and criminal justice system.

While Kotter has made progress in recent years regarding our own diversity and inclusion, we are not satisfied, nor do we believe we are anywhere near where we need to be. Our journey is just beginning.

Here is what we have done so far:

  • Over the last 5 years, 31% of our hires have been people of color (and we are committed to doing more – see below)
  • Since our founding, we have remained committed to providing 100%-paid health benefits including medical, dental, and vision insurance for all of our employees and their dependents.
  • We provide 12 weeks of family leave to every new parent, regardless of gender or biological relationship to their new child.
  • We have designated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a company holiday and encourage employees to use the day to support causes or participate in activities to advance civil rights.
  • We officially began a formal diversity and inclusion initiative as a company in early 2019.
  • “Growing our diversity and inclusiveness” was designated as one of the 4 strategic imperatives of our company in 2020.
  • In March 2020, we formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (DEI). The Council reports directly to our senior leadership team and is an essential part of our firm by educating, guiding and coaching us all to be better and to do better.

Here is what we commit to doing:

  • We just completed a DEI Council-led “Week of Action” – dedicating six days to focus and address the issues that have so systematically impacted people of color.
  • We have designated National Election Day as a company holiday, to encourage our employees to participate in our election process and to assist others to do so as well.
  • We have committed financial resources and employee time to fostering an inclusive environment and attracting a more diverse workforce.
  • We have designated Juneteenth a company holiday. to celebrate the freedom of all those who were enslaved in our country and to encourage our employees to use the day to oppose racism and support racial equity.
  • We commit to holding significant conversations with our suppliers to urge similar actions, and with our clients to help them make progress in eradicating racism in their own organizations.
  • We are committed to expanding our internal education on diversity and inclusion, reforming our policies to reflect racial equity, and building metrics to collect and track our progress.
  • We commit to a goal of our company’s senior leadership being a minimum of 33% people of color.

We believe in the power of people working together to effect positive change, faster than anyone imagines is possible. And, we believe this can be the case with racism in America. Millions of people have been energized to speak up, protest and to act. Leaders now have the opportunity to align even more people around a common vision for our future and to create a movement with the power to sweep across the country and bring about lasting change. We at Kotter will remain actively engaged in this dialogue and do all we can to change our shared future.

 

Sincerely,

Rick Western, CEO and President

John Kotter, Chairman

Nancy Dearman, Vice Chairman

Tanya Kruger, CFO

Russell Raath, President – Consulting

Kathy Gersch, Executive VP