Things must change.
Sickened by the murder of George Floyd and filled with emotion in the following days, I sent an unconventional email to all H&R Block associates and franchisees Saturday morning. It wasn’t to update them on offices damaged in riots – those can be replaced – my priority was the team. I wanted to know how they were feeling and asked them to share their thoughts and ideas with me. The subject line of the email read: Our people and communities.
The response was immediate. And amazing. I got more replies to that email than to any other I’ve sent as CEO of H&R Block, but the stories are heartbreaking, infuriating, and far too abundant. I heard from many associates who said racism is the norm for them. I heard stories of unfairness, insensitivity, and embarrassment. Of people who had to work harder or seek extra credentials and education to be taken seriously. I heard from parents who pray police will see their son or daughter as human, not just black. I heard from mothers of police who pray for the same thing – people to see the human first, not just a uniformed enemy. In story after story, two emotions consistently appeared – fear and exhaustion.
H&R Block is committed to helping create change in communities we serve nationwide.
For us, it starts with making sure all our associates have the tools and resources they need and assurance that our company stands with them. We’re embracing hard conversations and continuing to build on our efforts to foster a culture of belonging through increased education, donating time and resources through our Make Every Block Better community impact program, and more.
We don’t have it all figured out yet, but we’re working on it. Our colleagues were willing to share their stories — taking action to change the narrative is a step we can take. As one of our associates wisely said to me, “Education provides hope. Education allows people that have had limited exposure to different races to understand one another.”