February 6, 2018

Our Commitment to Respect and Compassion

By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

Over the past several months, we’ve seen disturbing sexual harassment and abuse allegations in nearly every industry, revealing a disgraceful pattern of discrimination and intimidation. Recently, the issue also surfaced within the animal welfare community.

Whether on behalf of animals or humans, fighting inequality and injustice is vital and takes extraordinary courage. Those speaking out about their experiences show immense bravery and every story deserves to be heard. This important time in our society, and within our industry, requires we act with conviction. Within our organizations, and to the larger audience outside them, it’s imperative that we all commit to creating professional environments in which everyone is valued and treated with respect.

As the first animal welfare organization in North America and a leading voice within that movement, we see first-hand how the lives of animals and humans are intertwined – when you support one, you support the other – so our cause is deeply affected by this critical and overdue discussion. We also know our greatest impact on vulnerable animals occurs when our care for animals is matched by our care for each other. At the ASPCA, we specifically commit to providing workplace environments that are safe for all staff – across all genders and gender identities, sexes, sexual orientations, races, colors, ages, and religions. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind and stand ready to support anyone who has experienced it.

Promoting universal respect is not only the right thing to do – it also benefits our efforts to help animals in need and serve communities across the country. Welcoming diverse perspectives and experiences results in stronger, more well-informed decisions. We will continuously strive to cultivate the diversity required to advance our lifesaving work with both impact and integrity.

Ultimately, our full society, including people and animals, will benefit from our continued commitment to providing a safe and respectful space for all. It will become stronger, wiser, and more compassionate, and if we acknowledge and apply these lessons well, we will look back on this time not so much as a stain on our character, but as a turning point in our culture.

Thank you for supporting our work and playing a part in that critical elevation.