John Stankey: AT&T CEO slammed for asking staff to admit to ‘White privilege'

John Stankey became the telecommunications company’s CEO in July 2020 and launched an internal program


                            John Stankey: AT&T CEO slammed for asking staff to admit to ‘White privilege'
John Stankey has been AT&T's CEO since July 2020 (AT&T)
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AT&T’s CEO John Stankey has come under fire after journalist Christopher Rufo revealed his internal program introduced in the aftermath of the May killing of George Floyd. Stankey became the telecommunications company’s CEO in July 2020 and launched the project — Listen Understand Act. Under this, the White staff of the organization has been ordered to read an article that says they are racist, they have also been asked to admit to their ‘White privilege’ and recognize 'systemic racism’.

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Stankey sent an email to 230,000 workers of AT&T in April 2021, which was obtained by Rufo, who published it on his website. The mail said, “As individuals, we can make a difference by doing our part to advance racial equity and justice for all. If you are looking for tools to better educate and inform yourself on racial equality, resources are available at Listen. Understand. Act.”

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“We also encourage you to actively participate in our recently launched Equality First learning experience, a new initiative to increase awareness and action around our value to Stand for Equality,” Stankey added in his email.

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Rufo’s article quoted an anonymous senior employee and mentioned on his website that “managers at AT&T are now assessed annually on diversity issues, with mandatory participation in programs such as discussion groups, book clubs, mentorship programs, and race reeducation exercises.” Besides, the staff members reportedly have to sign a loyalty pledge to “keep pushing for change,” and engage themselves in stuff, like “reading more about systemic racism” and “challenging others’ language that is hateful.” The insider added, “If you don't do it, you're a racist.”

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Under the program, the employees have been asked to read several things. One of these includes a May 31, 2020 article from the Chicago Tribune by columnist Dahleen Glanton, titled ‘White America, if you want to know who's responsible for racism, look in the mirror’. Another recommendation is Daniel Hill’s ‘White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism' by Robin DiAngelo and 'White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White’.

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Who is John Stankey?

Stankey is the CEO of AT&T after being the company’s president and chief operating officer (COO) earlier. AT&T’s site states, “John’s leadership drives AT&T to deliver on its purpose to create connections with each other, with what people need to thrive in their everyday lives, and with the stories and experiences that matter,” before adding that he “joined AT&T in 1985 and has 36 years of accomplished leadership spanning nearly every area of AT&T’s business. John holds a BBA in Finance from Loyola Marymount University and an MBA from UCLA.”

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After the recent revelation, Stankey and AT&T were slammed mercilessly on the internet. A critic tweeted, “Maybe @ATT CEO John Stankey should resign so a POC can take his place, otherwise he's just a hypocrite and perpetuating white supremacy.” The second one wrote, “Says race baiting white CEO John Stankey.” “Great work uncovering this POS! Stanley should be removed, company sucks anyway…..” the third user commented.

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