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Amid a pandemic and a historic racial reckoning, a tech leader confronts the limits of empathy

As a white male, my journey to where I sit today has been very different than a person of color or anyone in a minority or marginalized group.

I’m aware of that, and I have always strived to be empathetic and compassionate. But 2020 gave me a fresh perspective, and it’s changed me as a leader.

When COVID-19 forced employees of my company to shift to working remotely, in many ways it felt like an experience all of us were having together. But I recently saw a quote that really struck me: “We’re not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.”

I’m a parent of older children, and I live in a house with a quiet office that allows me to isolate. My experience is different from my colleagues raising young children, some of them single parents, as well as those who live in small apartments with roommates, who have spouses who are essential workers, or who are also caring for their parents. Our boats are very different.

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