A Message from Michael J. Novogradac
A vast swath of society, including the business community, have for far too long ignored or overlooked the immense inequalities and racial biases deeply rooted in our nation. The wrenching video of George Floyd’s agonizing death, under the literal and figurative weight of police officers who abused their power, has seemingly been a tipping point. But there have been far too many past outrages against Black Americans that were proclaimed to be tipping points, only to then recede into distant memory for those of us who have the privilege of not being the victims of bias. However, the indignation and heartbreak stirred in us by Mr. Floyd’s murder, compounding the still-fresh grief from the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and now Rayshard Brooks, does indeed feel different. We applaud our fellow Americans who took to the streets in nonviolent protest in the American tradition of civil disobedience in the face of injustice. For the sake of our country’s future, we cannot return to business as usual when the streets are again quiet.
Our society, and the business community in particular, must take this opportunity to examine honestly how our actions and inaction in the face of centuries of injustice have allowed conscious and unconscious racial biases to persist and to harm communities of color. We must look within ourselves, we must listen to others, we must learn, and we must each become an agent of meaningful change.
In the context of our company’s specialization in federal and state programs that foster societal benefits such as affordable housing and urban revitalization, Novogradac has hosted and sponsored diversity and inclusion events alongside our partners in the affordable housing and urban renewal community. By participating in these important discussions, we were able to listen to personal experiences, learn valuable lessons, and collaborate in the development of ideas on how we can all support the effort to end racism and other forms of cultural oppression. Our informal motto has long been “Doing well by doing good.” That said, we recognize we have not done enough. We should have done more. We dedicate ourselves to do more from here on out.
Both in time and money, we will focus our efforts to help ensure that communities of color are afforded the same rights, respect and opportunities enjoyed by the most-privileged strata of society.
- Novogradac will this week make a donation in the amount of $50,000 to the National Urban League, in support of their more than a century-long effort to help Black Americans and other underserved communities reach true social and economic parity and equal civil rights. Going forward, we will also match, on a 2-1 basis, donations made by our employees in support of the National Urban League.
- The Novogradac Community Development Foundation will expand its support of Main Street Launch by funding $1,000,000 of below-market interest rate loans to Black-owned businesses over the next two years.
- We will hire a Chief Social Impact Officer (CSIO) to better coordinate our current efforts and to help guide us to being a greater part of the solution. The CSIO will be empowered to help guide us as to the best manner to deploy our labor and capital going forward, consistent with our renewed commitment to continuous improvement, to bringing positive change to the professions within which we work, to the communities we serve, and to the people we employ.
- We will increase our support of organizations that encourage and support Black students who are seeking careers in our primary professional fields of public accounting and appraisal/valuation.
- We will revamp our internal training to further expand anti-bias, inclusion, and racial equity training.
It is my hope that we all recognize our collective responsibility to listen, learn, and help in meaningful ways. Let every one of us become an agent for positive change.