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Equality activist and civil rights leader Rosa Parks said “To bring about change you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”
Today, the equality movement is everywhere you look. Customers and employees want to do business with — and work for — equality-driven companies.
In fact, 80% of business professionals believe companies have a responsibility to go beyond profit to make an impact on society.
Similarly, 66% of global online consumers say they’re willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, according to Nielsen.
But we still have a long way to go.
With these stats in mind, it’s clear that equality issues go far beyond our personal lives.
Check out these 20 quotes from some of the most important leaders in the equality movement. These visionaries have inspired others around the globe to stand up for important causes and human rights. We hope their insights will help you become an equality trailblazer in your own company.
Grace Hopper, Pioneering Computer Scientist:
“The most damaging phrase in the language is it’s always been done that way.”
Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente:
“The pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness can become a reality for everyone if we eliminate issues standing in the way of improved race relations. I love this country and we’ve made so much progress, but we’re not there yet.”
Lilly Ledbetter, Equal Pay for Equal Work Activist:
“We sought justice because equal pay for equal work is an American value. That fight took me ten years. It took me all the way to the Supreme Court.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Rana el Kaliouby, Entrepreneur, Scientist, Co-Founder and CEO of Affectiva :
“As AI becomes ever more entwined into everyone’s daily life, it is crucial that we as Trailblazers take our responsibility seriously — to build out AI that empowers people and that fosters equality, not inequality.
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
“Women and girls should be able to determine their own future, no matter where they are born.”
Harvey Milk, LGBT Activist:
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights … it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”
Natalie Portman, Actor and Activist:
“The future is all of us… We need to add seats to the table. We’re not taking away seats. We need to include everyone. This is for the betterment of everyone’s world.”
See the full conversation here, in the video from the Salesforce Equality Summit:
Patricia Arquette, Academy Award Winner and Activist:
“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Billie Jean King, Sports Icon and Humanitarian:
“Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs, and I want women to have the cake, the icing, and the cherry on top, too.”
John Lewis, Congressman and Civil Rights Leader
“We must be headlights, not taillights.”
Cherie Blair, Lawyer and Women’s Rights Activist:
“Business leaders benefit from having unique platforms and positions of influence, and I believe that using these tools to create positive social change is not just important – it is imperative. We have a responsibility to give back.”
Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman
“We must look past our own narrow interests and attend to the interests of our global society.”
Malala Yousafzai, Activist for Female Education:
“I raise up my voice — not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
Maya Angelou, Poet and Civil Rights Activist:
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund:
“When women do better, economies do better.”
Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer, Salesforce:
“Inequality, in all its forms — gender, LGBTQ, racial, or otherwise — is an issue that every company must address for its own benefit and to create a better world. We believe businesses need to focus on closing the equality gap with the same energy put into creating new products and markets.”
Zamantungwa Khumalo, Global Shaper, World Economic Forum:
“Responsive leadership has no title, no age group, and has very little to do with whether or not you are an elected official or CEO of a company. Responsive leadership is our ability to take action and actively play our part in our communities.”
Marc Benioff, Chairman and Co-CEO, Salesforce:
“Companies can do more than just make money; they can serve others. The business of business is improving the state of the world.”
Stevie Wonder, Musician and Activist:
“We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”
Each of us can learn from the equality trailblazers who have dedicated their work and lives to creating a path toward equality for all.
If you enjoyed these equality quotes, get more insights like this from the 360 Highlights newsletter.