I just received the e-mail posted below from a close friend concerning Pricewaterhouse Cooper's (PwC) decision to stay open on MLK day and their “reasons” as to why and below that is the response I gave to my friend. I’d like to open it up to you guys and see where you stand on the matter. Curious about this one.
Hi All -
Please check out this email that my former employer (PwC) sent to its employees regarding MLK Day. It is quite an interesting take on why they feel their employees should work on this day, despite the fact that it is a nationally recognized holiday.
----- Forwarded by H US/ABAS/PwC on 01/18/2008 09:26 AM -----
01/18/2008 09:13 AM
"Reply to All" is Disabled
To: PwC US Staff
Subject: In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This coming Monday, we commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the preeminent leaders in the civil rights movement. At the age of 35, Dr. King was the youngest person at that time to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and he is widely known for his work toward ending racial segregation in public schools and promoting meaningful civil rights legislation, including a law that would prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace.
Dr. King was a remarkable speaker, and his "I Have a Dream" speech is considered one of the most impactful dissertations of all time. But there is another quote he delivered that I think is particularly important for us as a Firm:
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
Many US companies have decided to give employees the "day off" in commemoration of Dr. King's birthday. But as you read the quote above, you realize that Dr. King believed that the efforts around basic human rights could never take a holiday. As a result, we consider Dr. King's birthday as a "day on;" a day to take action; a day to recognize that progress is not automatic.
Throughout many of our offices this Monday, we will be hosting talented high school students from our local markets. The intent of these gatherings is to introduce these students to the vast array of career opportunities that are available to them, not just in our profession, but in the business world in general. In keeping with Dr. King's passion for equal opportunity, I believe this is a fitting tribute to his work.
I'll leave you with one final quote from Dr. King; "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Equal rights cannot be taken for granted, either personally or collectively as a Firm. I hope that you will take a moment to reflect on the significance of this holiday and find some way to recommit to the equality and respect for all individuals that Dr. King talked about so many years ago.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. If PwC is truly sincere in their outlined motivation and desire to use the holiday as a vehicle of enlightenment and access to children whom might not have had an opportunity normally to visit a top firm and see the possibility of future career opportunities outside of blue-collar aspirations. In its actual work setting, instead of with a representative in your classroom giving a long drawn out speech, with Kings dream of progression for us as a people on all fronts – education, community, and career as the basis, than I believe it to be a good and noble action.
Honestly, how many people do you know who take MLK day as a day of reflection and self-enlightenment? In fact, how many people do you know whom take any holiday with its origins entrenched in the pain and sacrifice of a people for anything other than barbequing, partying, and drinking on a Sunday with no work on Monday? If this was a black firm I Believe, by many including myself, that it would be perceived as great idea that could work to show young children of color reflections of themselves in the work force and I don’t believe there would be any uproar over it.
Now, on the other hand, if this is just a tactic to make an extra buck instead of having to lose a full day worth of labor over “the death of some n&gg&r that deserved to die in the first place” then where are we meeting and how many picket signs do I need to bring? It’s all a matter of perception based on whoever is reading. Unless you know the intent of the author, we all just exist in a state of speculation.