Black History Month is all about the celebration of the achievements of African Americans, from the remarkable people credited with changing the course of history, to the legions of community servants who led by example and forged a consensus of determination to support the struggle for change. This change, and AT&T’s commitment to it, is something I see in the work my colleagues and I do every day.
More than a half century ago, AT&T made history by setting a new standard of employment fairness for Corporate America. In the summer of 1962, AT&T worked with Vice President Lyndon Johnson to implement a something called “Plan for Progress.” At the time, AT&T was the largest company in America, with a million workers and roots in every single community. Many workplaces were segregated. AT&T set an example during a tough time by advancing a non-segregated workplace-- in every state, every community. AT&T also said minority employees would get equal consideration for promotion. We made sure they would qualify by providing on-the-job training and educational programs. With a company like AT&T setting an example, well before laws required it, we made it hard for other companies not to follow.
Social justice involves constant striving—because justice is not something suddenly realized and then you are done. It is a value all of us should always strive to attain.
Today, African Americans are represented at the highest levels of AT&T, from the Board of Directors to Senior Executive Management. Our company has invested more than $11 Billion in communities of color across the country to build economic opportunity. Through our ASPIRE programs, AT&T is working to educate and build the work force of tomorrow – creating opportunities for underserved communities. Our partnerships with community organizations on educational and mentorship programs prepare thousands of young people for successful careers. And Black Enterprise just named AT&T on of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity.
Social justice involves constant striving—because justice is not something suddenly realized and then you are done. It is a value all of us should always strive to attain. And a value where we should mourn when it is clear we have fallen short. It is a value that is—and certainly ought to be—shared by everyone in this country. And not just by people who live here, but also by the institutions that impact our lives, whether it’s a government agency, a charity or a corporation.
I’m proud of AT&T’s pioneering role in making the American workplace more equitable and our company’s continuing commitment to social justice.