Today, Metro completed the investigation into an incident at our South Facilities Maintenance building in which a statue depicting of a person of color was found in front of the flagpole. An image of the statue and its surroundings appeared on social media and the news, evoking racist symbolism.
Many employees have shared with Metro’s management that this incident is indicative of a larger, systemic issue of racist language and acts at Metro. Employees have reported that their colleagues are not being held accountable regarding harassment and discrimination.
We want to acknowledge that pain and truth, accept and apologize, and make the required changes to our agency to prevent it from happening again. Transit Facilities Division leadership will now take deliberate action to address the people directly involved.
Metro’s next step as an agency, however, extends far beyond this singular incident. We’re committed to treating the root cause, not just this event as a symptom.
“Our process is to recognize, reconcile, and restore. In response to this incident and the feedback we received, we recognize that we must take action to improve our culture and climate,” said Brent Jones, Metro’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer and Assistant General Manager for Strategy and Partnerships. “We’re now going to move quickly to reconcile what the outstanding issues are. Our goal is to restore the relationships with those who have been currently or historically harmed, and restore the workplace to a safe and belonging culture.”
Metro continues to strongly encourage all employees with any reports of protected class discrimination, harassment, or retaliation to contact the Office of EEO, Equity, and Inclusion, even if the reports are older, so that we may address them. In addition to addressing these issues from human resources and legal standpoints, sharing and listening to personal stories and truths are fundamental steps to authentically engage in reconciliation and restorative practice in our journey toward being an anti-racist organization.
Metro is seeking to work with our labor partners in building and strengthening our equity and social justice efforts, and in creating and maintaining a healthy organization that embodies our values – one where all employees feel welcome, included, comfortable, and safe in the workplace.
“This incident has jump-started our commitment to the anti-racist work we started long ago,” said Jones. “It’s not easy work and we recognize the challenges ahead. But it’s important work and we’re diving in.”