By Victor Crawford, CEO, Pharmaceutical segment at Cardinal Health
As we begin Black History Month, when people all over our nation will recognize the monumental, heroic and pivotal achievements of Blacks and African Americans throughout the course of U.S. history, I am excited and filled with a great sense of pride.
During this same time last year, I shared my thoughts and perspectives as a Black man on how far we’ve come as a race, and as a country, based on the actions of our ancestors. I reflected on our past, and the progress that has been made. But now at this moment, I want to share with you about our present and the history that we can create.
Just recently I had the honor of virtually raising our new, and first-ever, Pan-African flag at Cardinal Health alongside my co-Executive Sponsor Benjamin Brinker of BOLD, our Black and African American employee resource network. This flag represents our history but calls for action today. What we do from now on, every moment, every day, manifests into our collective future. The next chapter in Black history . . . the next American history.
As I recently re-watched the seminal David Susskind interview of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this interchange exemplifies how we all have a hand in creating Black history moments as presented by Dr. King:
David Susskind: “March on Washington by Negroes and Whites?”
Martin Luther King: “Yes.”
David Susskind: “All citizens.”
Martin Luther King: “Yes, I’m thinking now of, of all people of goodwill who are concerned about the American dream and the implementation of the basic principles of our democracy, and this would include Negroes and Whites. And I think it would have more power if it is an interracial march calling upon our nation to bring into being these just laws which will take us on a long-long way toward the American Dream.”
Since I began with Cardinal Health, which was only a little over three years ago, I’ve felt a shift in the way we think about this notion of creating the next chapters of history. While we have learned from our past efforts in the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), we are by far now more focused on how today’s actions drive what’s next for us as a company and beyond. Whether it’s progressing our DE&I strategy so that we’re looking far beyond this year alone and instead anticipating the changes and needs for years to come; adapting our hiring methodology to ensure we are recruiting and retaining talent that is diverse in all capacities; setting specific goals and metrics for our employees to learn and understand how to be better stewards of inclusivity; or aligning with, and holding ourselves as a leadership team accountable to, the strategic and purposeful expectations of our Board of Directors to be at the forefront of advancing equity throughout our company, alongside our customers, and advocating in the communities where we work and live.
As CEO of our Pharmaceutical segment, the influence I have and choose to use to within Cardinal Health and beyond its’ walls is not lost on me as a Black man. That’s why, alongside my peers, through my board experience with non-profits and the Hershey Company, and even within in my own personal community of friends and family, I am committed to pushing this critical need to keep moving forward – step-by-critical-step. The way I approach change isn’t always focused on doing the big things but approaching the details in a methodical manner to create everlasting impact.
When we’re looking back on Black History, we often shift our focus to the monumental events. However, the non-headline-making, mundane moments add up and can create just as much, if not more, progression. Are you mindful of those small moments that you find yourself in? Is it a conversation with a colleague that causes you to pause and observe your own unconscious bias and go deeper in understanding the path of the other? Do you find yourself in the capacity to create diverse hiring panels and offer diverse slates of candidates for roles within your company to bring the power of inclusion to the bottom-line? Is it the moment when you’re considering new vendors or partners and instead of pulling up the same list that you always have, do you instead take some time to learn about others outside of your “norm” and look for ways to engage Black and all minority-owned businesses that have the capabilities and experience? Is it stopping to ask questions of your neighbors who are often not at the table and inviting those voices to be heard in your community to better understand their needs and ideas? There are small moments each and every day that can generate BIG change. What are those moments you’ll go after so that YOU can be a part of a better future . . . of creating a better history?
Our past is indicative of many things, but today is today, and what we do in this very second creates tomorrow. We must glance back with respect, andappreciation, but fiercely look ahead at what we want to achieve. No matter your race, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your roots, your demographics, or your title – we all are individually and collectively the bearers of creating history. You have can have just as much influence as your coworkers, as social activist leaders, as government officials, as neighbors in your communities. All it takes is being present in those moments of opportunity.
So, I say to all people of goodwill who are concerned about the American dream and the implementation of the basic principles of our democracy, let’s focus forward and together build not just an even stronger Black history, but what is and can altogether be, a stronger American history. Let’s all create the history that we and generations to come can talk about with pride.
Victor Crawford is the CEO of Cardinal Health’s Pharmaceutical segment, which distributes brand and generic pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical and over-the-counter healthcare and consumer products. In addition, the Pharmaceutical segment provides services to support the development of these products to pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare providers across the country. He also serves on the board of directors of several publicly traded companies and nonprofit organizations, including the Hershey Company, the National Urban League, Pelotonia, Thomas Jefferson University and the Jefferson Health Advisory Board.