Unfolding events over the past week triggered by the senseless death of George Floyd and others before have shaken us deeply and tear the fabric of our communities. Expressions of protest and calls for change have been mostly peaceful and inspiring. Even so, it’s impossible not to be disturbed by widespread and wrenching images of confrontation, racial prejudice and violence— across the nation, and in cities we serve.
In daunting moments like these we want to reach out to others. We want to help. We search inside ourselves for actions that we can take to help heal racial divisions, and to address deep inequalities that for too long have been ignored. Drawing on our mission and history, all of us on the Bloodworks team can change our world for the better.
As the source for lifesaving blood in the Northwest, our daily work unites communities. Our roots run deep. Together, we represent and personify 76 years of distinguished history: by connecting donors with patients, and advancing the quality of healthcare. By responding to major tragedies and emergencies – local and national. By innovative research. By public education. And by saving countless lives. We do it all every day in partnership with donors, communities, healthcare providers and first responders.
Bridging racial and social divisions is not new territory for us. Our not-for-profit organization was a national leader in desegregating blood banking, and in responding to the needs of people of color and underrepresented communities in blood health, research, medical education, and collections. Respect, equity and inclusion is our commitment to communities and partners we serve.
Our lifesaving mission and daily work connects us to diverse communities and far-flung healthcare partners that we support. Our mission is the bedrock that defines who we are, what we believe, how we act, the way we treat those around us, and how we perform our work in communities we’re proud to call home.
Respecting and honoring differences embraces all aspects of our shared humanity; ethnicity, age, gender, language, geography, life history, culture, food, sexual orientation or identity, economic status, skills. My own understanding of how diverse people experience our world is so imperfect, and yet has at least some awareness that my younger self didn’t know or didn’t understand. Through the diverse communities we serve— and the workplace colleagues we work beside every day —we know firsthand that we’re better and stronger by being diverse.
Bloodworks’ commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a fundamental part of our mission and service to our community. Treating patients with certain diseases and enabling organ transplants sometimes depends on donation from a person’s own ethnic community. That’s the way we provide the most-compatible blood component possible. We will continue to meet patient needs in all ethnic communities we serve. It is a way we can both heal people and rebuild and strengthen the fabric of our community.
Our internal Diversity & Inclusion Council has continued to grow in membership to help us be a great employer. The Council is a forum to share dialogue that increases internal visibility and awareness. I invite staff to reflect on specific actions and changes that we in Bloodworks can take to be a supportive workplace for every team member and to share those with the Council.
Many would agree that as a nation our need for change is urgent. Actions and words that divide us only reinforce negative perceptions of us-versus-them. We look to leaders in government and in the private sector to have honest conversations about race, to build consensus around measures that support real, equitable solutions. Only then can rigid lines of separation, inequality, and discord be redrawn into single line: a circle that surrounds everyone, and draws people together.
When times are so unsettling, it is our character, integrity and purpose that helps see us through. Hold these close, and your own families and loved ones closer, and we will move to a better future.