Arnold Donald offers words of hope in turbulent times

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Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald on June 3 addressed employees about issues on racism that have been brought to a head since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25. This forum is a reprinting of that memo:

Arnold Donald
Arnold Donald

I have been hesitant to join in with the many executives who have issued communiques, knowing that any words are far too inadequate in the face of the events that have occurred in the U.S. over the past several days.

We have painfully witnessed the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others, followed by frustrated, passionate protestors exercising their rights of freedom of speech, unfortunately followed by vandalism and looting perpetrated by a few-- all in the context of a higher than normal level of pent-up tension and anxiety exacerbated by the global pandemic, stay at home, shelter in place, loss of jobs and income, and an uncertain future. Clearly, these are not the best of times.

So what can we do? And I ask what can I do? Not just words but actions, that in my own small way, help us to a brighter day? Racism is real. Not just here in the U.S., but around the world. Injustice and brutality are real. They've been with us forever despite many efforts to eradicate both.

I grew up in a segregated South in the U.S., and like others at the time, I witnessed and suffered injustices. I have a family member with bipolar disorder and at times when elevated, can come across as belligerent, at perennial risk as a young black adult of finding himself in a bad situation that could lead to severe or even fatal consequences. And I have family members who are in law enforcement and put their lives on the line every day. I'm certain that many of you have similar circumstances.

I make certain that my bipolar family member is introduced to the law enforcement officers in the communities that he is in. I make certain that they see him as a human being, as a complete person, albeit one with the unique challenge of suffering with bipolar disorder. I make certain that I remind my law enforcement family members to remember their purpose and their training -- all of their training. And of course out of love and concern for them, I hope they don't hesitate when they face a truly threatening situation.

In the hope of catalyzing even the smallest of change, I share with my neighbors and my professional colleagues the incidents of racial profiling and biased accusations that my family members and I have experienced on far too many occasions. And through the greatest platform that I have available to me to effect change, as CEO of this corporation, I want to provide the support and the motivation for us to build on our foundation of being the greatest travel and leisure company in the world, bringing millions of people together every year of all nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences so they can joyfully discover what they have in common and learn to celebrate their differences, rather than fear them-- while at the same time providing an economic multiplier that contributes to a higher quality of life through the power of inclusion.

I thank each of you for the part you play in making this possible and I encourage you to honor our core values expressed in our vision statement ... "We are committed to a positive and just corporate culture, based on inclusion and the power of diversity. We operate with integrity, trust and respect for each other... an exemplary corporate citizen, leaving the people and the places we touch even better."

Despite these times, and despite what seems to be far too tedious and far too slow progress, collectively we are capable of powerful change for the better and I have no doubt that if we double down on our efforts and stay the course, together we will create a brighter future.

The only way through is forward.

Arnold Donald is president and CEO of Carnival Corporation & PLC. 

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