Condemning AAPI Hate and Sharing VSP’s DE&I Learnings

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The following statement was issued today from VSP Global President and CEO Michael Guyette:

I’ve been following the news in recent weeks about racist incidents and attacks on Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people in the United States. Stories from the Bay Area to New York City and even VSP Global’s hometown of Sacramento are shocking and saddening to read.

Yesterday’s devastating attack near Atlanta now joins that list.

The media has continued to draw attention to what has become an alarming national trend, even as we acknowledge that racism, discrimination and violence against the AAPI community isn’t new.

What is new today is COVID-19 and falsely laid blame for the pandemic on the AAPI community.

To reaffirm, I condemn violent, racist and xenophobic behavior in all forms. I do so as a citizen and as a CEO on behalf of thousands of VSP employees around the world. We stand proudly with the AAPI community, millions of whom represent our members, our doctors and our employees.

Part of the unique culture at VSP includes our Business Resource Groups (BRGs), where employees come together with common interests, perspectives and experiences to create community and understanding within the organization. They also provide valuable insights that can drive more well-informed business decisions.

Recently, VSP’s Asian & Pacific Islander BRG held an emotional virtual forum, giving voice to employee experiences tied to this growing national crisis. There, in front of hundreds of fellow employees, BRG members personalized what we’ve been reading in the news, with stories from micro and physical aggression to violence inflicted on individuals and family members. We even heard stories about parents scared to send their kids back to the classroom—a fear shared by many AAPI families across the country.

What We’ve Learned

In times like these, many may wonder how to respond. And while I’ve found there’s no magical formula for what to do, doing something is vital.

Where we often start is with listening to our stakeholders, like our employees. That listening helps create empathy and can reduce bias.

Last June, I issued a statement on behalf of VSP, which included a commitment to accelerate our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, part of which involved the hiring of VSP Global’s first Chief Diversity Officer.

Then it’s about action.

Over the last six months, the organization has gained a better understanding of how DE&I must infuse across all areas of the business, from overhauling hiring and advancement opportunities for employees of color, to diversifying our vendor relationships and better leveraging our BRGs as strategic partners. And in the wake of recent events, exploring relationships with external AAPI organizations to drive meaningful actions in alignment with our Asian & Pacific Islander BRG.

The work is ongoing and has no finish line because a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization isn’t a set destination. It’s a constant work in progress that necessitates, as one employee told me last June, “a culture of understanding, not just trainings.”

Looking Ahead

Of course, no single corporate statement or DE&I strategy is going to resolve complex systems of discrimination, hate and violence. That work is part of our ongoing, shared responsibility as an entire society.

For VSP, that means being open about our DE&I journey. And speaking up when we can make a difference, in support of our communities and our corporate values, which are: We care. We trust. We empower diversity. We are one team.

After all, good vision is as much about seeing the hard truths as it is about seeing what’s possible when governments, communities and companies are ready to put in the work.

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Jace Duval
916.851.4531

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