The following statement by Independence Blue Cross CEO Dan Hilferty was originally published by The Philadelphia Tribune, June 3, 2020.
It is with a heavy heart for the state of our country, concern for the health and well-being of each citizen in our region and those they love, as well as a measured dose of hope and optimism that I write these words.
At the same time our nation struggles with tremendous loss of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen high profile killings of three African American citizens: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and, most recently, George Floyd in Minneapolis. These events have exposed painful realities about race and inequality in our country and the raw emotion and reactions that these conditions have evoked. Our reactions of horror and anger have swept across the nation and led to numerous peaceful protests, but they have also ignited outbreaks of violence and destruction, in virtually every major city, including Minneapolis and Philadelphia.
First, please know that I am deeply saddened by these developments. It is my hope that everyone remains safe and healthy however they choose to exercise their right to peacefully express their views on this evolving national tragedy. This is a bedrock principle of our democracy. It is what unites us at a time when so much seems to be pulling us apart.
Second, it is important for me to clearly and unequivocally express my outright condemnation of racism and other forms of intolerance. This aligns with our unwavering commitment at Independence Blue Cross to diversity and inclusion and the acceptance of all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnic background. This commitment is at the core of our corporate mission, vision, and values.
When I reflect on the death of George Floyd and the pain and frustration that it has unleashed, I view it as a call to action, and I am hopeful many others do as well.
The wounds that this event and the resulting reactions have exposed are deep, but I truly believe that I, in fact all of us, must serve as beacons of acceptance, respect, inclusion and understanding. As a white middle-aged male, I will never fully grasp what it means to be African-American in this country, facing challenges every single day in a society that has not yet rid itself of the vestiges of discrimination and hatred. I have not walked in those shoes, but I can strive to better understand these challenges.
This will require that all of us become vocal proponents for tolerance and the humane treatment of others – anything else is unacceptable! Together, we must be a community of people who embrace diversity and reach across the divides and recognize and embrace the humanity in each of us: our desire to be accepted and loved, and our desire for physical, social, and emotional security. We must strive to understand the pain that others may feel because of the color of their skin or other prejudices that have deep generational roots and harmful consequences.
So, I ask you to join me, in doubling down on our individual and collective efforts to understand each other better, to peacefully work “arm-in-arm” to improve our society and to be a beacon of hope for anyone who feels disenfranchised in any way. Together, I am hopeful that we can be a catalyst for fairness and equity throughout our society. Whatever issues that may divide us as a country and as people are never greater than what unites all of us.
At Independence we are committed to diversity and inclusion in our day to day culture. We will continue the dialogue with our employees that helps each of us “walk in the shoes” of those who encounter inequality that remains far too pervasive in our society.
In our region we are fortunate that we are joined by members of the community and public leaders who also embrace the principles of inclusion and equity. I feel proud of the performance of public safety professionals who have demonstrated a calm, measured response in recent days. We will continue to look to the leadership of our City and our Commonwealth and support them as they navigate these turbulent times.
Together, I am hopeful that we can be a force for fairness and equity throughout our society. In the long run, that commitment to equal rights and opportunities for all will overshadow the issues that divide us.
Let’s start today and lead from this point forward.