Posted by Keith Sugawara, January 14, 2021
One America: Embracing Diversity
I have coined the term “One Team” within Silex Technology to communicate the message that while Silex is comprised of separate legal entities, each with their own financial objectives, it is important to work together toward the common good of the global organization. We are “One Team,” but today, I ask for your support to come together as “One America.”
Given the social unrest in the United States after the death of George Floyd and with the shooting of Jacob Blake, I feel that it is my responsibility as Chief International Business Officer of Silex Technology to share my perspective. Even more importantly, “Making a Difference” within our communities is a part of our Core Purpose at Silex Technology.
Let me preface and say that what I do not want to do is speak towards things that our government should or should not be doing. These are complex issues and even more complicated policy decisions. And while we individuals are entitled and have the right to our own opinions, I will be the first to admit that I do not have all the information, nor have I studied the issues extensively enough to have an informed opinion. For those of you that know me, this is my general perspective on most government policies.
What I do want to focus on, however, is what we as Silex Technology can do to make our organization stronger and to leave a lasting, positive impact on our local community.
First, as an equal opportunity employer, we have a legal obligation to not discriminate against any employee or job applicant because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, physical or mental disability, or age. I think that it is far too easy for organizations to simply comply with this law, and my request is for Silex Technology to fully embrace diversity. Yes, having different backgrounds and perspectives on life can create conflict, but ultimately, the sharing of different ideas breeds creativity and enables us to come to the best decisions and ultimately make us the strongest organization.
Much of the recent turmoil and vitriol of the nation has centered around the issue of racism. This is an incredibly personal subject for me, and I would like to share my experiences.
I grew up in a small rural town in Northern California where the demographic of the population was around 95-percent white. As an Asian American, all throughout my childhood, I was teased for being different. Kids too can be cruel and unrelenting when it comes to these issues.
I still remember vividly a hostile situation I was put into where one of my best friends came to my defense pleading that “Keith is Hawaiian…not Japanese” (both of my parents were born in Hawaii). While I appreciated his support in defusing the situation, even my friend shared the mindset that it was not acceptable to be of Japanese heritage.
I was a good athlete and student growing up, and was blessed to be popular because of that, however these situations had a negative impact on how I viewed myself. I did not even date throughout high school as I lacked the self-confidence to believe that a non-Asian would be interested in a relationship with me.
One way that I have chosen to help change and better society has been through my association with the School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education (SPACE). I am a Cornerstone Donor and I have served on the Board of Directors for the past 16 years. SPACE is a non-profit performing arts organization but what is unique is that their program “emphasizes diversity, youth leadership, cross-cultural arts, social issues, and exemplary training in the arts. The curriculum may address issues of social, environmental and cultural awareness.” At SPACE, children may learn African tribal music or possibly a play based on a local Indian hero, all with the purpose of educating our youth to learn and respect different cultures.
So, what can you do to make a difference? I leave it to you to choose your own path, but take these issues seriously and get involved someway, somehow. Find your path by thinking critically about how and where you can contribute. And if you are struggling to come up with your own ideas, I would welcome your support to SPACE.
President & CEO