Black Lives Matter & Our Role as Business Leaders

Black Lives Matter & Our Role as Business Leaders

As business leaders, we have an opportunity to use our influence to create a stronger economy, uplift our communities and contribute to a better planet. Over the past week, we have all seen the gut-wrenching and soul-crushing videos and protests advocating for racial equality that have swept the country. Here in Washington we have seen and heard the protests across our city firsthand. 

In my discussions with many of our member companies over the past week, I have heard stories of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of these protests, particularly as they come in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a doubt, we are facing radical uncertainty. But it is important now more than ever to practice the principles of inclusion that we value as an association and as an industry. Today we can affirm that we see and hear the pain and inequalities facing African Americans across this country and that black lives matter.

It is important for us to demand that leaders in federal, state and local governments come together in a bipartisan way to create action – programs that promote equality; laws that help protect our friends, families and workforce; and policies that address racial and economic disparities in our country. Over the last several days, I have spoken with some of my elected officials – and I hope to see our member companies take similar actions to make their voices heard in their communities. I have also made financial contributions to organizations helping fight for racial justice, another easy step we can all take.         

We’re all Americans, and it’s time for each of us to take responsibility to bring our country together to address these challenges head-on. Solving this will require deep political structural and cultural changes. I have faith that the confectionery industry will be a part of the solution for the communities that we serve, and I hope to see a brighter, more peaceful and more equitable future for our country on the other side. Throughout these last few months, we have seen the ability of our member companies to build up their communities and provide relief and joy to those that need it most, and I look forward to seeing our member companies continue to play such a role. We are especially mindful at this time of the toll these back-to-back crises have taken on our small- and medium-sized member companies, and we continue to look for ways we can support our member companies at this time. 

As always, our inboxes are always open to hear thoughts and opinions from our member companies and our larger confectionery industry community. We’re keenly interested in the work our industry is doing in the community, and I hope to continue to spotlight our member companies’ contributions as these protests and the COVID-19 pandemic continue.

John Downs is the president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, a trade group in Washington, D.C., representing the nation’s candy makers.