A Year After George Floyd's Murder, What Have We Learned?

By Isoul Hussein Harris
Illustration by Nathaniel Morris

WarnerMedia Inclusive logo

The killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN., by the former police officer and now-convicted murderer Derek Chauvin ignited record-breaking, worldwide protests against police brutality. The death of Floyd and others, such as Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, catalyzed an international conversation around racial injustice and inequity. Corporate America responded with unprecedented giving to social justice initiatives and civil rights groups and supersized hiring of diversity and inclusion officers. According to the Fortune/Deloitte 2021CEO survey, 90% of the leaders emphasized that diversity, equity, and inclusion were professional and personal priorities. We reached out to the WarnerMedia Equity and Inclusion leadership and asked each member to answer one question: What Do You Now Know For Sure?

Christy Haubegger

Christy Haubegger | EVP Communications and Chief Inclusion Officer

"More than ever, we now know the supreme importance of language. America has collectively gained a new vocabulary around race. Phrases such as systemic racism, white fragility, Black Lives Matter, and anti-racism have entered our collective lexicon. That may sound minimal, but naming social ills empowers us to examine and change them.

We have also realized that the aspiration of a color-blind society is not only naive and fantastical--but it's incredibly harmful.

As a society, we now know that acknowledging different perspectives and experiences regarding race is essential for our continued progression. These small but critical transformations in our language provide the necessary tools for the vital work ahead."

Samata Narra

Samata Narra | SVP, Equity + Inclusion, Content

“I don’t profess to know many certainties—if any at all. However, there is one thing I see with crystal clarity: after the racially tumultuous year amidst a global pandemic, people have had the time to listen and understand more than ever before. If there was ever a real opportunity for progress, it is now. As a company, we must examine and learn from past inequities to create a future that is built for the next generation. Given the global reach of our content through so many different mediums, each of us—no matter our position—must keep the nuances of our audience top of mind; and relentlessly create space for unique perspectives, experiences, and stories.”

Asif Sadiq

Asif Sadiq | SVP, Equity + Inclusion, International

"One clear thing is the importance of not just focusing on one-off interventions, but instead on creating sustainable equity and inclusion efforts across our company. Diversity is not an option anymore—and it's not a problem we are trying to fix. It is an opportunity that we must embrace and embed across everything that we produce. That's the pathway to meaningful change and success for our future. In the international markets, diversity has many different dimensions, nuances, and characteristics that create unique individual identities for many of our staff. However, one thing is consistent regardless of the market: Inclusion works the same globally. We must all unite to create true Inclusion for everyone."

Karen Horne

Karen Horne | SVP, Equity + Inclusion, Programs

According to Newsweek, as of April 20, 2021, nearly 200 Black people in the United States have been killed by police since May 25, 2020—the day of George Floyd’s murder.  I know for sure that we need more than justice—we need accountability.

I genuinely believe that our content affects our culture and that we have a responsibility to represent all cultures and all voices authentically. As those who help create content for a global audience, we must be accountable for the lens through which those stories get told.

I know for sure that we are tired. But now is not the time to rest. We have the best IP, the best executives, and the best content creators right here within WarnerMedia. We must be comfortable with things that potentially make us uncomfortable.

I know that there is a genuine desire to change the problems and change the systems that created them. We want WarnerMedia to be a place where our content creators and our employees know that their authentic voices are welcome here and that we strive to be the safest, most inclusive workplace in the industry. I know for sure that with support - we can get there."

MyKhanh Shelton

MyKhanh Shelton | SVP, Equity + Inclusion, Workforce

"What I know for sure: people have the power to effect change. When people speak up, protest and push for change, people in power listen. Now, cities, governments, police departments, and corporations are talking about systemic racism in ways they were not just 13 months ago. Addressing inequity was dramatically accelerated because of the power of the people who spoke up.

Witnessing this acceleration, along with seeing research showing that only 25% of a population is needed to create a tipping point for change, gives me a lot of hope. So another thing I know for sure: we cannot let up on our work building equity and Inclusion at WarnerMedia."