Life at Expedia Group Blog
CEO Peter Kern Letter to Employees
The below note was sent from our CEO, Peter Kern to our global employees over the weekend with the intention of keeping it internal. Over the past 72 hours employees have expressed overwhelming feedback about the impact of this note on them and their desire to have an easy way to share it, so we are posting it here to share with all of you.
I had planned to reach out this weekend to once again thank everyone for their hard work and to encourage everyone to plan some summer time off. Unfortunately the events of this last week in the US have compelled me to reach out on an extremely serious and personal note about what continues to be a truly disgraceful situation in our country. I write this not as your CEO and not as some corporate statement meant to make us look a certain way to the outside world, but because I think we all share horror and discouragement from what we have seen and we know that as human beings we must do better.
Expedia Group is not a monolith with a singular point of view – we have people from all different backgrounds and all different life experiences and I fully appreciate that given my particular position and certain benefits afforded by race, gender and even sexual orientation, I am in no way qualified to speak for everyone on these matters. But I am human and I have seen a lot in my days and I find it wholly disheartening and pathetic that we as a nation have not been able to get further over my lifetime. I grew up in Greenwich Village in NYC in the 70s and I can tell you that in many ways my community and society seemed to have more racial diversity and acceptance than our country does now. For sure we have made some strides both legally and in terms of opportunity for minorities in this country but somehow the divides don’t seem any smaller. Even the effects of Covid-19 have shown this stark reality as black and brown people have suffered far worse due to systemic inequalities that exist in the economy, in the health care system, and even in the access to healthy food. For all our talk as a society, we simply have not done enough. And candidly neither the tech industry nor Expedia Group has done enough either. I am not naive to the fact that we must do better in terms of our own diversity and we will. But I am not writing this to make you believe that we as a company will do better or for some corporate positioning. What matters is that we as humans reject the killing of innocent people and the systemic racism that has plagued our country. Unfortunately unlike Covid-19, which I believe science will eventually conquer, hundreds of years of racism and overt and unconscious bias will not be fixed with a vaccine. Instead we all must be a part of the solution and we each must rededicate ourselves to the cure.
These are trying times for us as a company but that seems to pale in comparison to the trying times that humanity is facing. And just as I’ve asked all you to be motivated by Covid-19 to change faster, I hope the events following the senseless death of Mr. Floyd (and sadly the hundreds who have come before him) will likewise bring you new energy for the cause of equality. I am not your spiritual leader, I am a teammate no more qualified than anyone of you to have a POV, but I am immensely troubled and saddened by the events of this past week. They go against everything I believe in. And for my part I commit to pushing our company to do better in all facets of our efforts to embrace diversity, encourage equality, and be part of the broader solution. Over the next two weeks, I will dig into what we have been doing about Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) and how I can personally help. I will also be signing the CEO Action Pledge (that prior management signed) to affirm that commitment. We do not yet have all of the answers and actions we will take, but we have the will. We will be intentional and thoughtful in evaluating and identifying how we can dismantle any bias within our policies and practices. We will create safe spaces to have difficult conversations. We will ensure allyship is a collective action taken by all of our employees. We simply must do better. And together, we can and we will.
If you have not learned this about me yet – I want to be clear – I don’t believe in public statements just to make myself or our company look good. This is a highly personal issue; it is not corporate fodder. I do not speak for every Expedia employee – I speak for myself, one human to another. We all must look in our hearts and do what is right – that is how change happens. We must live it every day, as individuals and as a company, not merely issue a press release that is just talk. That is what I believe in.
I hope you all stay safe and I hope together we help to make change in our society.