That reality has weighed on my mind the past few days as I reflected on the video message I sent you last week — and as I continued to watch our nation react to recent events of racism and injustice. My heart breaks for our country. My heart breaks for the black community that has endured the recent tragedies and a long, arduous history of racism that persists today. My heart breaks for our nation as we witness the civil unrest taking place.
The pain is real, and change will be hard. It will take the commitment of all of us — and we will find strength through our collective resolve on this issue.
Southern Company Gas is unwavering in its commitment to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for our customers, our neighbors and our communities while being a citizen where we live and serve. Our service starts with listening to – and learning from – our customers so we fully understand how to best meet their needs, and we take pride in our ability to provide them with clear, open and honest communication.
Right now, we’re in a moment in history that is counting on us to be more intentional in our efforts to listen, learn and act. To do that, we must first take care of each other. Reach out to coworkers who are hurting, particularly our black brothers and sisters. Rally around them and lend support. They need to hear from you now more than ever, and nothing is more important than our employees’ health, safety and wellbeing — especially during this time. Words alone are empty without action to follow, and I recognize that. That’s why I am actively looking for ways to better engage on the issue of race to help find real solutions.
As a company, we will further interact with you, community partners and thought leaders in an effort to mobilize an ongoing response to the racial tensions in America. Internally, that began in earnest last week as members of our management team began discussing the recent events. After a meeting of the Management Council on Monday, several leaders committed to beginning a dialogue with their employees on this issue – those are already starting. And we scheduled an employee forum for this Friday at 11 a.m. ET to continue the conversation on these issues for all employees. More to come on that event tomorrow.
There is more to do, particularly for the communities we serve. Today, we join Apple and other companies in making a contribution to Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit based out of Montgomery, Alabama that works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality across the country. That is one small way we can provide immediate support to an organization that is fighting for just causes.
We also must all do better to understand the experiences of those among us who are hurting the most. To that end, we have made a contribution to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, based in downtown Atlanta. Along with that contribution, we’re offering employees and one family member or friend free admittance into the museum – once it is open and safe to visit. More to come on that in the coming weeks. We also will be looking for other opportunities going forward, and we need your help. Let us know what organizations we need to consider investing in as part of these efforts. Send us an email with your suggestions.
But our work doesn’t end here. This is just the beginning. And the road ahead won’t be easy – it will involve tough conversations that challenge each of us. I need you to embrace those moments of discomfort and realize that real progress won’t take place without it. We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
As we begin this work, we maintain a hopeful outlook — not because the way forward is going to be quick and easy. My hope comes from my belief in each of you — and our communities — in taking the necessary steps to make change for the betterment of all.
This is our collective first step. And I want you to know that I am with you in this journey. It is personal for me – and it should be personal for each of you. Fear and bigotry cannot survive in the midst of understanding. So, take time to listen to those who are different from you and work hard to understand where they are coming from.
Join us in opening our hearts and minds as we work to heal and change.