United States

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; committing to the hard work ahead


By Shannel Clubb, principal and African American and Canadian Excellence (AACE) leader

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, I find myself feeling that we are far away from the dream he articulated 58 years ago yet optimistic that we can make progress.

In some ways, it seems like we have stepped backwards as we look at the events of the last 12 months with Black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement, images of extremists brandishing Confederate flags in the U.S. Capitol and the disproportionate illness and death COVID-19 has caused in our Black community.

At the same time, we have seen action by people of all races to condemn racism and increased urgency around building a more equitable future for all. We have also seen Black people cast their votes in record numbers during the November election. And just two weeks ago, we saw Reverend Raphael Warnock, pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King once preached, elected as Georgia’s first Black U.S. Senator.

While there is still so much hard work to do to realize Dr. King’s dream, there are some bright spots in the darkness of the last year. And while there is so much that is outside of our control, Dr. King reminds us that there is one thing we can control with this quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

I believe that is a good place to start our work because we can all take personal steps to help create greater equity. It’s also aligned with our values and approach to creating an inclusive culture at RSM.

Inside the firm, we have been working with intention on culture diversity and inclusion—to understand people’s diverse perspectives, hear their stories and chart a path forward together through our courageous conversations. We have also been working on mentorship and allyship to help ensure we are positioning our people for success and career advancement. And we’re advancing our diverse recruitment activities to bring more diverse professionals to our firm.

Outside of the firm, we have been contributing to our communities through our scholarships, charitable contributions and volunteerism, as well as the six fellows we have devoted to CEO Action for Racial Equity. We have also published resources for racial understanding and inclusion, begun an “Inclusion Starts with I” video series (watch our new AACE Employee Network Group video), and will soon be launching programs to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the middle market.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, and his message that all can serve, RSM and our AACE employee network group held our second Season of Service. Across the firm, we gave back to our communities through financial contributions and volunteerism, such as our #lunchbag activities to provide food to those in need. We were pleased to see so many colleagues band together to give back to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

In challenging times like these, it can be easy to focus on the negative or become stagnant because the path forward is not clear. So I feel proud that we are taking steps forward, and I believe if we all stay focused on the central question of, “What are you doing for others?”, we will make progress together. I believe in Dr. King’s dream, and I hope we can accelerate our progress towards making it reality.

Shannel Clubb
Principal and National AACE ENG Leader

African American and Canadian Excellence

African American and Canadian Excellence

AACE nurtures an environment that supports RSM’s African American and Black professionals in their pursuit of professional excellence.