NetApp Team –
As I mentioned in the All Hands meeting this morning, these past few weeks have been extraordinarily difficult weeks for so many of us. We are suffering from the impact of a pernicious virus for which our best means to overcome it are to be considerate of our actions and the impact they have on our neighbors and communities; in short, to be our brothers’ keeper. And we have seen the extraordinarily good actions of so many people who responded entirely in that vein; medical professionals, first responders, and so many of our own team who have gone above and beyond to take care of their neighbors and communities.
It is, therefore, so much more tragic that at precisely the time when we are called upon to be our very best, we are witness to multiple acts of unspeakable cruelty and social injustice, particularly against the African-American community in the United States.
While these acts are fast-shutter photographs temporarily bringing into sharp focus the harrowing underbelly of violence and racism that lurks just beneath the surface, they are unfortunately, just the latest representations of the longstanding inability of America to truly confront our shared history. And, in so doing, we continue to tolerate intolerance and perhaps even encourage its most virulent forms. These past few weeks, we have been witness to Ahmaud Arbery being murdered for simply jogging, of kneeling, the centuries-long gesture of piety and peaceful protest being turned into the grotesque weapon of murder of George Floyd, and of Breonna Taylor gunned down in her own home. Tragedy befell these innocents solely because they were blessed to have different skin. And they were treated brutally differently as a result; that is injustice.
When I first heard of them, I reacted not just as a CEO with a number of minority and African-American employees who are part of our team and for whom I feel an enormous sense of responsibility, but also as the father to two beautiful brown children, one of whom is a sixteen year-old young man. This week, after the George Floyd tragedy, he and I had to have the talk that we know all African-American fathers and mothers have to have with their young sons; the talk that many of us in the privileged majority do not ever have to have. And, I worry for his safety and for the safety of all the employees in my care, particularly our African-American employees.
I know that there are so many who feel anger, resentment, desperation, and frustration that may foster violent protest. But what purpose does that accomplish other than to lower ourselves to the level of those who would perpetuate injustice? We are better than that.
To the African-American members of our team, I want you to know that we hear you. I know that many of us are hurting, feeling unsafe and needing support; I want you to know that NetApp is a sanctuary. A place where you can be yourself and be loved, celebrated, developed, encouraged, and respected precisely for who you are. And where you have a group of teammates who are going to stand by your side as a protective wall of light against the darkness. A sanctuary where there is no place whatsoever for intolerance and injustice. You have my promise and the commitment of our entire leadership team to continue to work on building the safe, open, caring, and unbiased environment that we all cherish; we will continue to strive to turn intent into action.
In closing, as I mentioned in the All-Hands meeting, I want all of our teams to get together and take some time to listen and learn from our underrepresented colleagues. I ask you to reach out to someone in the African-American community at NetApp, our Asian employees who may be impacted by the response to Covid-19, the women, and the quiet ones in our teams; in short, the ones whose voices have not been heard. Take a moment to be silent and to listen to them and to hear how things that we might take for granted are not their experience. For it is in listening, that we can begin to really understand, and from genuine understanding comes empathy. And from empathy begins the journey to root out intolerance, bigotry, and injustice in all its forms.
I've heard from so many of you who tell me that you feel sadness and despair but also a sense of duty to step up and drive change, to play our part in fostering equality and justice. Together, we are more than 10,000 strong. And if we can all stand shoulder-to-shoulder, in opposition to intolerance and injustice, we may even reach our aspiration to make ourselves better people, for NetApp to be a model company and commence the journey to make our communities better places.
Let's start today…
Take good care. Be safe and well. One Team.