A Message from CEO Roger Rawlins on Recent Protests

Posted on 6/1/2020 6:10:29 PM

As protests across our country grew larger and more widespread this weekend, including in our company’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, I felt it important to leverage the privilege that I enjoy as a white male and use my voice and platform to share my perspective.

As an organization, Designer Brands stands for self-expression. Each of us is free to express our unique and individual selves in our company; it is this diversity I cherish most about leading this organization. It is in the spirit of self-expression that I must express this: acts of hate, bigotry, and injustice have NO PLACE in our world, and certainly not at Designer Brands. The time has come for each us to take a stand against the acts of hate affecting people in our country, but at this moment, we must no longer remain silent about the ongoing hatred and lack of humanity shown towards African Americans. Yes, Black Lives DO Matter, and the very least we can do is speak up and say – this behavior is unacceptable, and it must stop.

We have several business resource groups in our Columbus home office, and I am honored to be an executive sponsor of our African American business resource group. I am grateful to this group for providing me and our organization with great insights into what it is like to be a person of color in our organization and beyond. These insights have brought clarity for me in this moment and inspired me to convene a round table discussion with these associates and leaders this morning to capture their unique perspectives on how not only I, but we as an organization can show up as allies both now and in the future. I pledged to them that we will accelerate our listening. Listening leads to action, and action leads to change. Our goal is to be better and do better. While not all we will do, our immediate actions include: 

  • Convening additional listening round tables with our associates
  • Continuing engagement with our Diversity Councils
  • Accelerating the next phase of our diversity & inclusion training

 This week I was inspired by the following quote, and in closing, I wanted to share it:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”   

- Nelson Mandela