In a letter to employees, Tim Boyle, chairman, president and CEO, of Columbia Sportswear, said the company fully supports “all victims of racism and all who speak out and act against racial injustice.”
The full letter follows:
To All Employees,
We stand with all victims of racism and all who speak out and act against racial injustice.
Like all of you, I am sure, I was sickened by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That, sadly, is not an isolated incident, even in our nation’s recent history. I know that these terrible actions have caused pain among our employees.
I have also been troubled by attacks on journalists — even the arrest of journalists — who are trying to tell this important story. We stand with journalists who shine a light on injustice and in so doing help us to address it.
I spend a lot of time reading history, and it can be maddening to relive the past failures of individuals or society, but also inspiring to think about the tremendous challenges overcome and the progress made on many fronts. And in history books, I think, we see both great and terrible examples of leadership, with some common themes in instances where the United States or the world makes progress. I think it is fair to say that if Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King had the opportunity to tweet, Twitter would never have felt the need to label their tweets for being misleading or glorifying bad acts. Honesty, sympathy, empathy, respect, and the courage to stand up against wrongs and to challenge the world as it is are among the qualities great leaders show.
But this is not just about those who hold leadership positions. We are all in a position to lead. I am reminded of the powerful words of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall:
“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”
We will have more to say on this in the coming days and weeks, but I wanted you to know where I stand.
It is impossible to not be distressed by what we see playing out in the news. And what we are seeing is just a snapshot of what many in our communities experience on a daily basis because of racism. We are witnessing the legacy of inequality and the consequences when people and our governments take and permit actions that hurt individuals, families and communities rather than protect them.
We all work together on a daily basis to connect active people with their passions, but it should go without saying that even the best gear can’t help you stay outdoors longer if you can’t feel safe going outside. In fact, as we have seen, many cannot even feel safe inside.
Gert always drove relentless improvement by saying “It’s perfect, now make it better.” On the topic of racism, society is more than imperfect, and we must be relentless in the effort to make it better.
Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Columbia Sportswear Company