Hate will not win
The last few weeks have been full of high profile sporting contests. One of these being the Euros 2020 football tournament which was cancelled last year in the height of the pandemic. There were so many wonderful sporting moments throughout the tournament and those of us living in a European country whether football was a passion or not, it became a national obsession. The human interest stories alongside the football itself was headline grabbing and many a Teams call dedicated at least some moments to the drama being played out. In England it has been 55 years and counting since a major tournament had been won and the young team representing the country progressed remarkably well through to the finals. The final against the mighty Italy was much anticipated. On the day of the game there was much hype and the build up was intense.
What really struck me was the pride, skill and courage that was displayed by both teams on the day. Full time came and went and the teams were drawn 1-1. Extra time was played and both teams gave no ground, we were headed towards a penalty shootout. No team wants to be faced with this as a way to settle on a winner, yet that is what happened.
It really made me reflect on how sporting moments have parallels to the world of work. We build teams full to the brim with the very best talent, we practice our art relentlessly every day, striving for ever better outcomes. We are courageous in competing to win new work, developing strategies that on the day mean the clients continue to choose us because of the work we have put in, the innovation we bring, our credentials. Throughout the days we deliver excellence, always keeping our promises to our clients in mind and working together as teams to make each element of our work shine. When we go to client pitches, that for me, is the penalty shoot out moments. The opportunity for us to be brave, to step up and no matter what, we give our best. Sometimes we get the result and sometimes we do not, but always we learn how to be stronger ready for the next time.
There were some incredible moments in that Euro 2020 final as each team manager chose the players to take a penalty kick. The drama was intense and there were many nail biting times. Saves by courageous goal keepers, kicks landing the ball squarely in the net to score and the inevitable misses and disappointments that followed soon after. The hopes of nations rested on these young shoulders.
What was unexpected was that sadly the events after the final kick of the competition had been taken and the cup paraded proudly around the grounds, the first violent and sickening racist verbal attacks began on the three young black English players, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka. They had bravely stepped up and, like many others before them and I’m sure many others after, they were unsuccessful in getting the ball in the net. It continued for days. No words can describe the aftershocks that followed this. There was disbelief from many, how could this happen, surely we have come so far since the death of George Floyd. The outpouring of love and support from the many was wonderful to see and hear.
I was compelled to write to all colleagues yesterday. We stand together, we do not remain neutral in situations of injustice, bias and discrimination, we have a zero tolerance policy to racism and we will not tolerate any behaviours which go against this.
You may recall in my communication to reflect and commemorate the anniversary of the death of George Floyd I shared some words that encapsulated what I felt. I share them again now as the events of the past days have really brought them in to sharp focus once more. In the words of James Baldwin “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”.
As we head towards the weekend I want to reach out to all colleagues in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands where this week there were extreme floods and many homes and families were badly affected. Thankfully I understand that our colleagues and their families have not been too badly impacted but our thoughts are with the many people in these countries who have not been as fortunate.
Keep safe and well.