Our observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day feels particularly powerful this year, following the national groundswell for racial justice that began several months ago and continues today. Dr. King’s words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” are a reminder of the work we have left to do to be allies for and support one another.
Last year, Siemens USA launched our Courageous Conversations program as a way to engage, as teams, on topics of race and diversity. The response to that initiative was strong. In just four short months, Siemens managers led more than 99 Courageous Conversations with more than 1,200 Siemens employees at all levels of the organization.
That same spirit of community-building is what grounds our commemoration of MLK Day this year as we expand on our longtime partnership with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) in Atlanta, Ga., and announce new grants for business development and entrepreneurship for Black-owned businesses in seven metropolitan areas across the United States.
The NCCHR had to close its doors in the early months of the pandemic. But recently Siemens Smart Infrastructure introduced technology to support its reopening. We installed an air purification solution in NCCHR’s existing ventilation system that floods the environment with hundreds of millions of ions that attack pathogens, mold, and other airborne and surface contaminants for long-term protection, transforming a building’s infrastructure into a frontline of defense against COVID-19. NCCHR also has implemented FDA-approved Siemens’ Thermal Imaging technology, allowing temperature checks via thermal cameras. The results are displayed on a monitor at a safe social distance, enhancing overall protection for staff and visitors.
Siemens is proud that its smart infrastructure capabilities have enabled the NCCHR to continue its important work. And on MLK Day, we’re sponsoring guided virtual tours of the NCCHR for employees and students of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
HBCUs have a long history of developing STEM talent, from engineers to software experts and technicians – all positions that are in great demand at Siemens. So, as students experience the powerful exhibits of social change and learn about Siemens technology, we hope they also envision themselves as future members of our team. Technology can, indeed, be used to help promote diversity, inclusion, and equity. And Siemens is committed both to expanding recruitment efforts to more places than we have historically and continuing to diversify our supply chain.
In early 2021, Siemens plans to award $140,000 in grants to African American businesses in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Orlando and Pasadena. Grants in the amount of $20,000 each will be awarded. The Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will lead this initiative by engaging MBDA Centers in each of the seven cities to nominate businesses that would apply for the grant. These grants are intended to help Black-owned companies develop their businesses so they can compete for our contracts and become part of our supplier base.
The Siemens Foundation also is working to promote greater equity in our communities. This month, the Foundation committed $2 million to two Community Development Financial Institutions Funds (CDFI): The Enterprise Community Loan Fund (ECLF) and Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC). CDFIs provide low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people with the capital they need for meaningful economic opportunity and development, including monies for the health care and real-estate sectors within their communities.
In 2020, the Foundation, including funding from the Siemens Healthineers Fund, donated $2 million to 20 community health centers across the country, enabling these centers to continue providing care for millions of Americans in underserved and uninsured communities. Other Foundation donations are supporting HBCUs in their plans to safely reopen campuses and efforts by the National Governors Association to reskill workers in the new economy.
We’re seeing other important outreach being done by our legal teams, which have identified pro-bono opportunities to advocate for social justice, and the Siemens Financial Services team, which formed an employee advisory council, reflecting a cross-section of the organization but with a focus around environmental, social, and corporate governance to promote responsible investment.
Our work is not finished, and Siemens USA will continue to be an ally in the fight for racial justice, harnessing our full portfolio of business and technological capabilities for justice and equality. The ways in which we champion racial justice and change speak directly to our company values of responsibility, excellence, and innovation. And they matter to the important role we play in building a more resilient America, one that’s more equitable and inclusive.
Published: January 18, 2021
Dr. King’s words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” are a reminder of the work we have left to do to be allies for and support one another.