Like a lot of people, I’ve got the summer bug and, given the choice between a walk outside and a blog post — well, you can figure out what has been winning.
But I’ve got a few posts lined back up the next few weeks. In the interim, I want to share with you one of the most meaningful and amazing speeches I’ve ever heard in person.
It’s from last week when I attended the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, where I serve as the State Delegate for Connecticut (and on the ABA Nominating Committee as well). At that meeting, the ABA presented it’s ABA Medal (it’s highest honor for exceptionally distinguished service by a lawyer to the cause of American jurisprudence) to Bryan Stevenson.
Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. During a 40 minute speech (which you really must listen to), he called on attendees to do four important tasks:
- Get close to people who live in the margins of society
- Change the narrative
- Stay hopeful
- Do things that are inconvenient and uncomfortable
Sounds straightforward enough. But with Stevenson’s brilliant oratory, he encouraged all of us to find meaning in the work we do through this and allow all of us to strive towards justice.
You may not even agree with him that those convicted of the death penalty deserve mercy. His book on “Just Mercy” has won numerous awards. But there is little denying that Stevenson is a voice well worth listening to.
For employers, no doubt Stevenson would encourage employers to considering hiring those who have been convicted of a crime to a second chance after they are released from prison. It might be doing what Bear’s Smokehouse does — looking at individuals and not judging them solely by their past. As Jamie McDonald, the owner of Bear’s recently said, “Sometimes all they need is somebody to believe in them and give them that chance.”
There may be other times when Stevenson’s advice might apply too; suppose you have an employee who failed to show up for work for three days in a row. You might just fire them immediately for job abandonment. But there might be circumstances where you should also try to understand the reasons behind the absence. Sometimes there will be a good excuse behind it.
If you can find time to listen to Stevenson’s speech, you won’t be disappointed. For those of us who attended the ABA Annual Meeting, it was one that we will never forget.