ATLANTA (June 4, 2020) – In a memo to all Huber employees, CEO Mike Marberry shared his thoughts on the series of racially biased tragedies in the United States, and reiterated that the Company steadfastly supports peaceful and constructive demonstrations to help bring positive change.
Over the last several weeks, while still challenged by COVID-19 threats and a worsening economy, our world is being further tested now by a series of racially biased tragedies in the United States. The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have thrown numerous cities and towns into social turmoil. This includes my own home here in Atlanta, Georgia, where many Huber employees and their families live and work. Atlanta has been under a nightly curfew the past four days—and this has just been extended now for the next five days.
I believe most of the ongoing protests around the country and world are with a peaceful intent. The protesters are frustrated with countless social inequities and injustice and simply want their voices to be heard. Unfortunately, in too many cities, civil unrest has escalated into looting and violence. These destructive acts are not the way forward, and they should not take our attention away from the real underlying social issue of racial discrimination and injustice. Huber clearly does not condone violence and criminal destruction. But the Company steadfastly supports peaceful and constructive demonstrations to help bring positive change. The way forward here is through kindness, understanding, empathy and justice.
Our Company was built on the Huber Principles—fundamental beliefs that uphold fairness and tolerance for all people regardless of race. As CEO, I want to reinforce our corporate social responsibility and express my passion for Huber’s core values.
Huber’s commitment to equality precedes the Civil Rights era and movements such as Black Lives Matter. When Huber was establishing its carbon black business in the US a century ago, the Company built a plant in Louisiana. The site featured housing for the plant workforce, identical side-by-side buildings for both black and white employees with housing assignments determined by seniority, not race. The Company also paid black employees the same as white employees.
In 1920, these were very controversial moves by Huber. In the South, racial segregation was the reality of living in the United States at that time. A group of local people marched on the Huber plant in protest. Hans Huber, the son of founder Joseph Maria Huber, held firm in his stance on treating all employees equally. The community would have to allow Huber to operate its plant with equality for all, or Hans was prepared to move his carbon black operation out of town.
There are numerous other examples throughout Huber’s history that reinforce our commitment to promoting racial equality and eliminating bias. At Huber, one of our most defining cultural values is Respect for People. As such, Huber will continue to advocate for racial justice.
Huber family Shareholders are firmly committed to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). Our own D&I journey through I Belong at Huber inspires us to treat all people with respect, dignity and fairness. To make our commitment to D&I public, two years ago I joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™. With more than 900 signatories to date, the program is the largest CEO-driven business commitment ever to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. A primary goal of this CEO-led community is to eliminate racial bias … period.
In times like these, it is not enough to focus only on doing what’s right within Huber. While many of our friends and colleagues are hurting and struggling because of these recent events, I encourage all of you to bring our Respect for People Principle to life in an even stronger way. Share your voice. I stand with you to uphold equality for all people. Together we can demonstrate that racism and hatred have no place in our lives and communities.
Improving today for a better tomorrow applies to more than just our products. It is within our reach to comfort others by listening and understanding their pain and frustration. Each of us has the power to help someone feel heard, respected and valued.