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An open letter from Minneapolis: This is about more than the verdict

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Jason Averbook
Jason Averbook is HRE’s People Side of Digital columnist. Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology has on that future. He is the co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a global consultancy helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.

Verdicts were unanimously delivered on all charges in the George Floyd case Tuesday afternoon. The crime, resulting upheaval and ensuing trial centered in Minneapolis, Minn., headquarters to Leapgen and home to many of our Leapgen family and customers. But this wasn’t about Minneapolis: This was a movement impacting everyone, in every city, everywhere.

The verdicts in this trial were a definitive statement against systemic injustice that knows no boundaries. But verdicts don’t bring victory; they acknowledge injustice. Victory would be communities and systems anchored in just, fair treatment for all. Victory looks like liberty, equality and dignity–not an execution of punishment for the opposite, a miscarriage of power.

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Related: After George Floyd verdict, ‘it’s all about support right now’

So, among the tide of emotions, remember this: Inequality persists. Injustice exists. We are a long way from fair, equitable, dignified treatment where all people feel seen, acknowledged and respected for all of the qualities that make them human. We experienced one of the most visceral reminders of this while also navigating a pandemic riddled with fear, uncertainty, loss and confusion. We continue to grapple with the change that will be required to achieve greater humanity. The movement continues.

When there is shock and confusion, there is a natural emotional response. There is no mightier force than human emotion. Our feelings, our passion, what fuels action and reaction–these emotions don’t exist in a vacuum; we shape our thoughts, but our feelings shape us. We dignify each other when we acknowledge our humanity, when we hold space for human emotion and when we allow feelings to be part of our human existence.

Acknowledging the presence of human emotion–be it trauma, celebration, elation, sadness, anger, grief, relief, euphoria, validation or suffering–is to be human. In fact, this simple act is true leadership. As leaders in your organizations and people functions, today is not about acknowledging a verdict. This is about acknowledging people: how we feel, what affects us collectively and individually, how we react, how we process emotion, how we coexist, and how we treat and support each other. Show leadership by showing your humanity; demonstrate bravery by demonstrating greater humanity; act as a leader by acting like a human.

Leapgen is shaped by core values of Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof. We show up for each other and for you with honesty, genuine love, candor and community. We hope you’ll embrace the same with your people in these historic days.