If you are feeling shocked, saddened, and outraged by the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, you are not alone. I know all our hearts are aching. If this were an isolated event, it still would be unacceptable. But it is not an isolated event. It is part of a pattern that has become tragically clear in the U.S. and around the world. Equal justice and equal opportunity may be our ideals, but they are not yet our reality.
I’ve talked to many of our African American colleagues over the past few days and have been heartbroken by their stories and struck by how close to home these issues really are. Many of our colleagues feel unable to fulfill their full potential at Amgen and feel unsafe in their neighborhoods solely because of the color of their skin. That’s unacceptable to me and it must change.
Trust and respect are core Amgen values. The test for whether we are fully honoring these values is the degree to which all of our staff feel they belong at Amgen. We can do better, and we will do better, I am sure of that. It is now also clear to me that progress within Amgen alone is not enough.
None of us can deliver our full potential at work if we are not secure in our neighborhoods outside of work. Our engagement, therefore, needs to include those things that can be done to make our staff feel safe and welcome in our neighboring communities as well.
Earlier this week, I was reminded of this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” This is not a time for silence. This is a time for us to work together for progress. My senior team and I are fully aligned behind this effort and you will be hearing from them in the coming days.
In recent days, I have begun a series of discussions with leaders in our organization and in our communities about the concrete actions we can take to address the inequalities faced by people of color in our society. I am encouraged that there are fresh actions to take and progress to make. The time is right and the moment is now for all of us at Amgen to do our part in setting a new standard. Optimism can be hard to find these days. Let’s take inspiration from science and trust that progress, like knowledge, builds upon itself, incrementally improving on what exists today until the cumulative adds up to something profound.
We are on a journey of a thousand miles. Let’s start taking some steps.