An Open Letter to Our Employees on Racism

June 5, 2020

Dear LiteGear Team Member,

Our country is experiencing extraordinary events, the kind of large-scale tragedy we only read about in history books and, in our industry, reimagine on movie sets. But what’s happening is no movie.

In March, our way of life as we knew it ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, fundamentally changing the way we look at the world and our business. More than 100,000 people—a disproportionate number of whom were Black—have lost their lives to COVID-19. Just as we were finding a new normal, 46-year-old George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. Video of the atrocious killing sparked nationwide protests unlike any I have seen in my lifetime and it is clearer than ever that we need meaningful, significant change in this country with respect to systemic racism.

I would wager that all of us at LiteGear are feeling a wide range of emotions including anger, sadness, grief and even fear. I know I feel extremely angry; I am fed up with seeing racist and violent acts being perpetrated against marginalized people in our society. I also know that, as a white male, I am in a position of privilege and am perhaps not the best messenger in this moment.

But as your CEO, I could not stay silent. So, while I don’t have all the answers and know I have much to learn, what I do know is this: The conversation about what it means to be anti-racist and the journey to get there must start right now or we will never evolve. This is our moment to choose who we want to be in the world, both individually and as a company.

Highlighting our core value of Community seems especially appropriate now.  As written in the definition of our Community core value, “We are a people-first oriented business … Every decision shows our commitment to being a good corporate citizen and our ongoing effort to do what’s right for our employees and our customers.” This, among other things, means that we strive for diversity in our hiring and promote an inclusive atmosphere around the office at all times. We are committed to being part of the solution that eradicates racism and creates equity and equality for all people.

I am, of course, very proud of our already-diverse group of dedicated and skilled employees. We value those who show commitment, professionalism, and drive to be the best
—regardless of race, religion, sex, age, color, sexual orientation, etc. Bringing different viewpoints and experiences to the table makes our company stronger, and this is why diversity is essential to our business and is ingrained in our ethics. But we can do more. LiteGear is not a racist company, but we must be an anti-racist company.
To this end, we are going to take the following specific actions:

  1. Form a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board that will help identify areas for improvement, guide the company in best practices going forward, and identify potential partners.
  2. Develop hiring practices that include active recruitment of people of color with an aim to further diversify our team.
  3. Identify Black-led/person-of-color led community organizations and make a commitment to support their work.
  4. Identify organizations working for change and make a regular monetary contribution to support that work.
  5. Use our status as a union signatory to apply pressure for overarching change in our industry and provide support to our union colleagues.

These are our first steps in LiteGear becoming the leading anti-racist company in our industry. We are not committing to these actions because we seek validation but rather because it’s the right thing to do.

Make no mistake, there are challenging days ahead of us and my words might offer little solace in the difficult times we are facing. However, as a LiteGear employee, you are a valued team member and LiteGear is here to support you. We welcome your thoughts and input as we navigate our way through these uncertain times. Please know that the leadership team is just as angry, disgusted, grief-stricken and appalled as many of you might feel. We must continue to make this matter an important element in how we conduct our business and our lives. It’s vital that our efforts and our commitment to change do not fade with the news cycle.

LiteGear has contributed to the community for years, and we will continue to stand for ensuring that those disproportionately impacted by recent events feel supported in their fight for justice. Below you will find a short list of resources that may be helpful.

Please stay safe and healthy and know we are in this together.

Mike Wagner
CEO, LiteGear

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