KPMG chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie, Ernst & Young chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger, and PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S. chairman and senior partner Tim Ryan are weighing in on the protests in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, denouncing the bigotry and hatred on display.
“This weekend, in my home state of Virginia, a violent protest took place that has rippled throughout our country,” said Doughtie in a statement Wednesday. “It is a sobering wake-up call about the serious work we have to do to advance inclusion in our society. As KPMG’s CEO, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand because these horrific acts touched not only my community, but all of our communities. I am saddened by the events and extend my sympathy to those who lost loved ones.
“Make no mistake: The KPMG community rejects any and all expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy,” Doughtie added. “Such feelings are at odds with the American ideal that we are all created equal. This incident affects everyone and it, along with others, goes against how we must treat one another inside and outside the KPMG community.
“It is critical that we each uphold the principles on which our inclusive culture is built and stand united behind our deep-rooted values,” she she observed. “We value critical thinking and passionate debate, and encourage differing opinions. As we move forward, we will continue to embrace our differences and respect all individuals as we believe that diversity makes KPMG better and stronger. The bias and hatred expressed in Charlottesville has no place at KPMG. We are committed to fostering a safe, open, and trusting environment for all.”
Weinberger also sent an internal memo late Wednesday to EY employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. He had been one of the business leaders sitting on President Donald Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum advisory panel, which Trump announced Thursday had been disbanded.
“I have been trying to balance the tremendous contribution our great organization can make against the appearance that our engagement on these issues is seen as tacit approval of unrelated policies and statements being made,” Weinberger wrote, but he added that it had been a “stressful” time for him since Trump spoke out in favor of the protests. He admitted that a number of EY employees had shared their concerns with him and he had decided to support dissolving the panel.
“Groups who stand for bigotry and hate have no place in our society and should consistently be denounced, forcibly and loudly, without equivocation,” Weinberger wrote.
“Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in our society; leaders need to unite, not divide," said Weinberger in a statement forwarded by EY. "Proud of the Forum members. I think we made the right decision.”
Ryan of PwC tweeted Saturday about the protests: "Free speech + assembly are essential to the American way of life - but hatred and violence are not. My heart is in #Charlottesville tonight."
Then on Tuesday, on behalf of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, which Ryan chairs, he sent out a note to more than 270 CEOs that are a part of the coalition. "Ninety days ago, we made a landmark commitment to work together to advance diversity and inclusion within our workplaces to better serve our employees, and society as a whole," Ryan wrote. "This past weekend we learned of—and are still grappling with—the violent protest that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in innocent people being injured and several who even lost their lives. We have heard from many of you who have reached out to your employees in response to this tragic event as well as from others seeking guidance."
"It goes without saying that this weekend’s violent protest is incongruent with our coalition’s values and philosophy," Ryan added. "While it is clear that as a society, there is still a lot of work to do to advance respectful, open dialogues, the events over the weekend serve as a reminder of why we—as leaders—rallied behind the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion in the first place, and how important it is to create candid, safe, and trusting environments for our employees and communities. How we respond as individual leaders and organizations will undoubtedly vary to reflect our distinct needs, but together we can lead with courage and make a positive and sustainable difference for society."
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