This year has been challenging for all of us. My deepest sympathies are with everyone whose everything has been thrown into turmoil by the coronavirus pandemic. We all sincerely hope that distancing measures work, a vaccine is found, as few lives are lost as possible.
For GDS, one of our key business channels is “physical” summits. COVID-19 has proven to be an existential threat to in-person events. But this disruption has driven innovation: our brilliant teams have created, developed and delivered a series of digital offerings that, we believe, will change the game.
I could not be prouder of the people I work with; but being more digital is not the only thing we need to change.
I started GDS in 1993 and have led it – and loved leading it – ever since. One of my main motivators is to help people change their lives, and it has been a privilege to achieve that… to some degree.
I am disappointed to say our Senior Management Team is not ethnically diverse, and it should be, because the audience we serve is. This year, today, now, is an opportunity for me to take positive action, and to encourage each of us to do the same.
I do not know what it’s like to be discriminated against for the colour of my skin, so I must learn and re-balance my perspective. Many of my heroes are people of colour, but my admiration and respect alone are not accelerating this vital change. So my thoughts must become action.
Governments and businesses are largely responsible for systemic racism. We must be committed to making a change. We must recognise that wealth, opportunity and love are equal for all. It is time for positive action.
We cannot rewrite our history. We can write our future. We can make a real impact, and quickly, if we do it together.
GDS is committed to changing our ways and making a difference. We will be outlining our positive action strategy over the next six weeks. This will include aligning ourselves with – and donating substantial funds to – charities who seek to end racism and support diversity in the UK and the US.
It is time to do better. It is time to be better.
Chairman and CEO, GDS Group