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Black History Month: Empathy is the bedrock of inclusion

Guy Pacitti, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

At Pegasystems, we celebrate Black History Month by recognizing the experiences, adversities, and heritages of Black Americans. This month acknowledges the historical pain and injustices of the Black community throughout all periods of U.S. history, starting with the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century, to the African Americans living in the United States today. To better understand where we are and where we’re headed, it’s clear we need to understand our history.

The courage and actions of Black historical leaders -- such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis -- defined the pivotal events that have shaped our world. Their leadership provides historical context for the future of the Black community and our nation. While positive change has been made, like the election of our first Black, South Asian, female Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, so much more work needs to be done. And to progress as a nation and to grow as individuals, we must understand that Black history is U.S. history and U.S. history is Black history.

As a global organization, we are committed to inclusion and diversity.

At Pega, we strive to create an environment where everyone can experience a collective sense of belonging and feel valued for their individual attributes. Recognizing and celebrating all employees’ racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds is essential to building psychological safety and employee engagement. Our Black@Pega employee resource group (ERG) is a vibrant global collection of more than 200 employees, including allies to the Black community. Led by Kerim Akgonul, our Chief Product Officer, this group is focused on the recruitment, retention, development, and advancement of our Black employees. This ERG not only serves our employees, but also works toward developing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills of the next generation. As such, both Pega and the Black@Pega group are engaged with non-profit organizations in the communities where we work and live that serve Black populations and share our mission of broadening the pipeline of future technologists from such underserved backgrounds.

“History is unfolding right before our eyes – and although I believe that Black History is every day – I think the greatness of this month is that it’s a chance for us to stop what we’re doing. For us to notice that there was greatness before us, greatness amongst us and even more in the future to come.”

Paula White-Jennings Brand Programs Manager at Pega, Member of the Black@Pega Employee Resource Group

It’s not the sole responsibility of Black employees to organize their own recognition. During the month of February, we call on all our employees of every background across the globe, not just in the U.S., to learn about Black history in their nations and to improve their understanding of the Black experience because the ability to be empathic is the bedrock of inclusion. A truly inclusive culture activates a wellspring of creativity, and, in an increasingly competitive global market, inclusivity is – now more than ever – critical to success.

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About the Author

As Pega’s Global Inclusion and Diversity Leader, Guy Pacitti is a change agent for diversity and inclusion.