A Time for Unity and Action
Author: Blake C. Goldring
June 5, 2020
In 1958, my grandfather, Dr. C. C. Goldring, was one of eight individuals who founded the charitable organization that would go on to become the United Way in Toronto. Like his fellow founders, he was a man ahead of his time for his belief in understanding and acceptance, and in kindness and consideration for everyone in the community.
That same year, as Director of Education for the city of Toronto, he delivered a commencement day speech at a local school in which he talked about kindness and consideration being among the most basic principles of character.
I’ve been reflecting on my grandfather and his words – spoken more than 60 years ago – a lot lately.
Like anybody who values justice, fairness, diversity and inclusion, I have been horrified by the events of the past few weeks. The Black community in the U.S., as well as here in Canada and globally, continues to face racism, discrimination, inequity and violence, and the recent events are just the latest examples illustrating how much work remains to be done to build a stronger, safer and more equal society.
At AGF, we acknowledge, recognize and share the pain so many of our colleagues, clients and communities are feeling. While the world continues its fight to conquer COVID-19, we know we must also work to eradicate racism. Now is a time for kindness and consideration, for empathy and compassion. But it’s also a time for action. And that’s why we’ve added our corporate voice to the chorus of individuals calling for change.
On behalf of all of us at AGF, I joined other business leaders and the Business Council of Canada to denounce, unequivocally, racism in all its forms. The statement echoed comments I made in a note to AGF employees at the beginning of this week in which I shared my personal reaction to the recent events and offered a firm reminder that racism of any kind has no place in our organization.
At AGF, we believe strongly that we all share in the responsibility to eliminate racism and that as a society we can and must do better. It is with this in mind that we’re committing a total of $25,000 to organizations our employees identify that provide support for and promote diversity and inclusion, which have long been pillars of our social responsibility commitment.
Just as it was in my grandfather’s day, the path toward a more just, fair and equitable society is paved with empathy, compassion and a commitment to inclusion, which is the key to unlocking the power of diversity.
At AGF, we believe in a culture of diversity and inclusion, and work every day to foster it. This means a commitment to all of our employees that they can expect to be treated with dignity, respect and equality. Our work environment must be free from racism and any behaviours or voices counter to this will not be tolerated, full stop.
It also means a commitment to employing a workforce that better reflects the diversity of our communities. We believe that smart corporate decision-making requires different points of view, which come from people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives working together. For our part, we remain firmly committed to our inclusive hiring practices and culture, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to join our team and contribute to its success.
As a proud Canadian, I find myself reflecting with empathy and compassion on the harsh realities so many in our country and beyond our borders continue to face.
I ask that we all take time to reflect on these realities and acknowledge that it’s on all of us as individuals – through our words and our actions – to stop racism in its tracks.
In that same speech my grandfather delivered more than six decades ago, he said, “There is little use in trying to decide how to react in a given situation which might not occur. A better plan is to develop a few basic principles of character which will apply in most situations and have them firmly fixed in one’s personality as the result of daily practice so that they are sure to operate even in unexpected situations.”
Today, and every day, I call on everyone to lean into their principles of character – their kindness and consideration, their empathy and compassion.
Blake C. Goldring is Executive Chairman of AGF Management Limited.
About AGF Management Limited
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