We are writing to share with you our personal sense of heartbreak and devastation at the events surrounding the death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis. As we witness repeated episodes of violence perpetrated against people of color, it is impossible not to experience a deep sense of disbelief, grief and outrage. We are reaching out to you today to share the disappointment, grief and anger that we know you must also feel, but also to reaffirm our common resolve.
As civil engineers, we serve as expert advocates for the change needed to address some of society’s great challenges—climate change, overcrowding and scarcity of resources, to name but a few. While the harms of racial injustice and inequity require multi-faceted solutions and cannot be solved by engineering alone, this does not make our knowledge and judgment less valid, nor our voices less critical, in charting a path forward.
As a community of global leaders dedicated to the safety, health and welfare of the public, ASCE is committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, fairness, dignity and respect for all. These tenets form the very foundation of our Society, embodied in our Code of Ethics that includes equitable and fair treatment of all persons as a fundamental canon. ASCE remains deeply committed to these principles.
Honoring our ethical commitment to protect the public welfare and provide equitable treatment to others, engineers must work collectively to establish a professional culture that is safe, respectful and inclusive to all.
As leaders in our local communities, our other social or civic organizations, and in society at large, engineers must play an active role in ensuring that others within our personal and professional sphere embrace those same principles of respect and equity. We urge all members of our professional community to stand up, speak out and take action against racism and injustice wherever it occurs.
ASCE affirms its commitment to serve the profession and our members with the highest standards of integrity, fairness, dignity and respect. We will continue our work to promote concrete, strategic actions to prioritize and drive accountability around diversity, equity and inclusion within the civil engineering profession, making ASCE a trusting place to have complex and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion; providing best practices, leadership training, education and other diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to reduce inequities and foster peace, justice and strong institutions.
We recognize that this commitment is not the comprehensive and complete answer.
While the engineering community continues to work to broaden opportunities in our profession, any advances to date are threatened if the fear of racial profiling or violence causes members of color to feel unsafe hanging out in the student lounge, entering a job site, speaking up, conducting a post-disaster inspection or even permitting their children to leave the house.
ASCE knows that together we can make a difference, and we are committed to standing up and leading globally by upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness, dignity, and respect for everyone. Now is the time for us to come together as we serve together across the engineering community. Our work has never been more critical. Our concern for each other has never been more important.
Please feel free to share your thoughts or have a conversation on the subject. If you have any questions or would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to reach out to us anytime.
K.N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
ASCE President 2020
Thomas W. Smith III, ENV SP, CAE, F.ASCE
Yvette E. Pearson, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE
Chair, ASCE Members of Society Advancing an Inclusive Culture (MOSAIC)