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News Jun 1, 2020

Taking Action for Inclusion. Now.

Following up to his speak up, speak out message, Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou shares positive actions for inclusive change.

Create an equal and inclusive future for all banner

Following up to his speak up, speak out message, Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou shares positive actions for inclusive change.

As I encouraged us in my message on Friday, we should speak up and speak out about injustice and racism in all of its forms. The value that underpins all that we do at Jacobs is ‘We live inclusion.’ And living it means acting.

I firmly believe that momentum has built to move forward with massive change. This moment as tragic as it is – and sadly preceded by countless other unanswered moments – has reached a crescendo. This is our time here in the United States – and as a company around the world – to affect change. Turn rhetoric into action. Build a new platform as a nation. Create an equal and inclusive future for all.

So, speak up. Speak out.

Across America and many other countries, there are peaceful actions going on to protest the senseless death of George Floyd and other members of the black community around the world – and there are also protests that have turned violent. We should not let the latter cloud the underlying issue and take center stage. Our 24-hour news cycle, while increasing transparency through powerful stories, can also distract.

I read a quote yesterday from Martin Luther King that stuck with me: ‘Riots are the language of the unheard’, and I thought I would share the paragraph for context.

Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. … And so, in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stanford University, 1967

These were words from Dr. King 53 years ago. We can’t wait any longer. And, this is not just an issue resonating with Americans. I have heard from countless numbers of you around the world, that you too are affected and more importantly, that you want to do your part in driving real change. Many of you have shared your thoughts on ways to positively participate, and I thought I would share a few of those here:

  • Participate in meaningful conversations. At Jacobs, Harambee, our black employee network, hosted two virtual Courageous Conversation sessions to allow black employees to candidly convey how they are feeling in a safe space, to allow people to listen and grow, and most importantly to support one another. A third session was held this weekend for the children of our employees, and two more virtual courageous conversations are planned for this coming week. The sharing was truthful – and raw; the listening was sobering and sad – yet also hopeful. I encourage those outside of Jacobs to find ways to share their stories, grow and support one another.
  • Sign petitions in support of issues important to you or get engaged in local community groups or national organizations that fight injustice, racism and other forms of bigotry. Though there are many online petitions, these can be found at in support of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
  • Understanding that not everyone wants to sign petitions, another way might be to take inspiration from Global Running Day as a contemplative way to honor those in your countries who have suffered injustice or discrimination by running 1 mile in their name. Though the official day has passed, there is always time for a contemplative run.
  • Join GirlTrek, a U.S. national health movement that activates black women – and others who want to join with them – to be change makers in their lives and communities through walking.
  • And, actively engage by ensuring your voice is heard through exercising your right to vote in national and local elections in your countries. A right to vote was hard earned in many places so don’t take it for granted.

A value system for Jacobs . . . and society

My Friday message triggered hundreds of responses from around the world – Jacobs employees, other business associates, and people I didn’t even know. I want you to know I have read them all. And when I shared my message with our Jacobs Board of Directors, their support was unanimous.

And one response in particular was especially impactful: “Parents need to have ‘the talk’ with all children, black or not black. We used to believe that we could educate our children by showing respect for everyone but now we all have to be much more direct and focused with ‘the talk’.”

To that I say YES! All of us as parents should take this approach and educate our children and grandchildren from an early age that there are not rules for one group or another. There are basic tenets of respect, common decency, equality – and humanity – that we should all expect and promote regardless of race.

I am going to leave it here: I am proud to lead this company because I am proud of each of you; speaking up, speaking out, wanting to make a difference. Thank you for all you do.

Steve Demetriou
Chair & CEO


At Jacobs, we’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.