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Cummins CEO: We All Have A Role To Play

The past few weeks have been difficult. We are horrified and angered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the other acts of discrimination and violence against black people that we have seen across the U.S. The anger and frustration spilling into the streets reflects longstanding problems that we must address.

In the U.S., black people are subject to systemic racism and discriminatory practices in all parts of the country and all sectors of our society. Our education, economic and criminal justice systems are all rife with inequality based on race.

It pains us that we have such deep-rooted racial and structural inequality in our country. And it saddens us that despite decades of discussion and promises of change, America has not made enough progress.

We live in one country, yet how we each experience our country can depend on our race. For example, how we experience law enforcement – as protectors or as oppressors – is very different. Each new incident of racial profiling or police violence deepens the trauma for members of the black community. The protests we are seeing are a manifestation of this trauma. Treating the protests with contempt rather than seeking to understand the underlying frustration will only further the divide. Ask yourself, how would you feel if your children or loved ones were under constant threat and what would you do to protect them?

Actions speak louder than words. Today, we commit to using our voices and our roles as business leaders to speak up and speak out.

First, we will engage with black-led groups and civil liberties organizations to listen to their issues and to support them both financially and with resources and skills within our respective companies.

Second, we will support minority-owned businesses in our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all businesses, and damage caused by recent looting has further added to these challenges. Minority-owned businesses are a crucial component of how we create opportunities for all in our communities.

Third, we will support efforts across the country to improve engagement between the police and all members of our community. We are learning about what those efforts should entail, and we are committed to lending our voices toward making real and lasting change.

We also have one request for all of you. Vote. And make sure your family members, your friends, and your neighbors vote, too. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the general election in November and in all subsequent elections. We live in a representative democracy and each of us needs to make sure that our elected officials represent all of the population. If we vote, we can reshape our country and put in place leadership that cares for and reflects the diversity of our communities.

We all have a role to play in calling for greater accountability from our government, from law enforcement, our neighbors and ourselves. What we have today is simply not enough. We need to work together to root out hate and replace it with a deep and abiding appreciation for diversity, equality, and inclusion. It must start with each of us, and it must start now.

Tom Linebarger is chairman and chief executive officer of Cummins Inc. Dave Ricks is chairman and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company.

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