People march in honor of George Floyd on May 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The National Action Network and members of George Floyd’s family held an opening memorial in honor of the life of Floyd, who was killed by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images
The murder of George Floyd a year ago forced a Billing among American companies that more had to be done to combat systemic racism.
When protests unfolded in the weeks after his death, Corporate America spoke out against racism and police brutality. Promises were made to invest in combating racial inequality, support minority-owned companies, and lobby policy reforms that address police misconduct and accountabilityand to give more opportunities to black Americans in these companies.
A year later become business leaders held to a higher standard and expects a more active role against racism.
CNBC reached out to a number of business executives and activists for their reflection on the early advances made in creating greater involvement in the corporate world. They were asked where companies are making progress and where companies are falling short. CNBC also asked about innovative approaches that everyone has seen or participated in over the past year.
Doug McMillon was President and CEO of Walmart, America’s largest employer since 2014. He also chairs the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from leading American companies. In these roles, McMillon saw not only the steps that Walmart is taking, but also those of the business roundtable that has been formed a special committee to promote racial equality in June 2020.
“Both individually and collectively, we have seen the private sector strengthen in response to racial injustices and inequalities, and we are seeing significant progress,” said McMillon. “One of the reasons we are seeing the progress is because the company’s commitments and initiatives are moving forward at the CEO level.”
Walmart reports on his Diversity metrics twice a year in detail. In their 2020 year-end report, civil servants were more diverse: the number of black and African-American civil servants rose by 1.97%, and representation of women and people of color also increased. Many members of the Business Roundtable also disclose diversity metrics and reform recruitment and promotion practices.
“Overall, I am encouraged by the progress we have seen so far, but the structures of systemic racism are complex and deeply rooted in society,” he said. “There are no easy answers to these challenges. There is always more to be done, so leaders and their organizations need to ask whether there is more they can do. And we must continue to move forward with a sense of urgency.”
“It’s not that we necessarily fall short, we have to move on. Moving to complex systems over time requires a multitude of actions, and a systems-based approach requires working on explicit structural changes (i.e. policies, practices, resource flows ), semi-explicit structural change (i.e. relationships, connections, power dynamics) and transformative change (i.e. mental models). Companies should take a shared value approach and not only invest in the wider community, but also seek to change the nature and type The way we operate as a company. “
McMillon cited the work of the Business Roundtable on police issues as an example of an innovative approach. The group is pushing for the police reform to be signed.
“In the past, police issues were outside the usual focus of corporate executives,” he said. “But last summer the BRT set up a Special Committee on Racial Justice and Justice that issued a series of recommendations to promote bipartisan consensus on police reform. This signaled that American companies cannot and will not suspend this issue. We have a moral imperative to do so. ” Make sure that our employees and customers are treated fairly in our justice system and that our communities are safer as a result. “
Photo: Charles Ommanney, Facebook
Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at FacebookThe company was able to use its own platform to raise awareness of Black Stories and Black Business through campaigns like #shareblackstories and #BuyBlackFriday after Floyd’s death last year.
Facebook also pledged to spend $ 1.1 billion on minority-owned companies this year and made millions in grants to organizations that fight for racial justice.
“In addition, last year we did the Funding program for Facebook claims To keep supporting the various US-based suppliers throughout the pandemic, “Williams said.” Facebook provides instant cash to pay suppliers for a job well done and to pay their debts. What is really innovative is that this is not the money they owed from Facebook, but from other non-Facebook companies that they did business with. “
Williams said it was important for companies to identify the injustices that existed.
“I think it’s an achievement that companies are becoming bolder to recognize inequalities that have lasted forever,” said Williams. “We all know there is more work to be done. Companies commit to hiring more diverse people – but that can’t end. They need to focus on inclusion efforts and making sure people from underrepresented communities are heard and heard.” estimated.”
Carlos Cubia followed suit Walgreens Boots Alliance in 2017 and has worked on initiatives including the release of the company’s first report on Diversity and Inclusion, the formation of its Global Inclusion Council, and the linking of a portion of the company’s incentive pay with performance related to the goals of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
The company is focused on increasing the number of women in leadership positions by 3% year-over-year and the number of black people in leadership positions by 2% year-over-year.
“We welcomed last year Roz Brewer as our new CEO“One of two black women who run Fortune 500 companies today,” said Cubia. “We have also appointed Valerie Jarrett to our board of directors, making her the first black woman to serve on our board.”
“While we are proud of the work we have done, we know we still have a long way to go, so this is both a critical and an exciting time to be in this field,” said Cubia.
“Companies always needed a push when it comes to DE&I, but 2020 wasn’t a push. It was a nudge,” he said. “The Racial Justice Movement opened not only eyes, but minds too. It opened the minds of those who used to think that diversity, justice and inclusion are separate from corporate goals and that DE&I is just a ‘nice thing’ . It opened the minds of those who thought it was enough to say that we believe in diversity while they did next to nothing to genuinely promote and promote a culture of DE&I. “
Awareness is the first step, but Cubia said he was happy to see more tangible action from companies too.
“We need to make sure that the spirit behind the global protests and support we saw last summer wasn’t performative,” he said.
Cubia found the staff town halls and black staff meetings helpful in shedding light on what still needs to be done. He related a memorable conversation from these efforts.
“It was powerful, intense and thought-provoking and I am proud to say that we left this session with ideas to move our DE&I initiatives forward,” he said.
Photo: Brittany Lee
Bobbi Thomason, Assistant Professor of Applied Behavioral Science at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, has conducted research that looks at members of marginalized communities and shows how they tackle inequality and social hierarchies throughout their careers. She also examines how these people shape social structures, organizations and families during their careers.
While more needs to be done, organizations have made progress over the past year in realizing the role organizations could play in solving the problem.
Thomason identified two areas where companies can improve to create a more inclusive environment.
“The first concerns representation – there is still a shortage of people of color, especially in leadership positions. Look at the Fortune 500 – there are only four black CEOs and the all-time high in 2012 was 6. But changing the numbers alone is not enough . ” automatically create advantages or equality. Increasing the number of people from under-represented groups is not enough if those people do not feel valued and respected, “said Thomason.
Companies also fail to create a sense of belonging for employees from different backgrounds. She referred to research by Robin Ely of Harvard Business School and David Thomas of Morehouse College who found that companies do best when they use different life experiences as assets.
The 15 percent promise is non-profit was founded last year by Brooklyn, New York-based entrepreneur Aurora James encourage Retailers must dedicate at least 15% of shelf space to black-owned businesses. About two dozen companies have taken on the promise, including Crate & Barrel, Sephora, and Macy’s.
“The 15 percent promise did a really interesting thing, which was to try to inspire companies to think about their individual purposes as a company and to get them to be anti-racist. Historically, companies have responded to bad events in making donations, “said James. “The promise really challenged people to go one step further and change part of their business model, change the way they merchandise, change who they buy from one supplier, from one [business-to-business] Position.”
Although companies that made the pledge are working hard to meet the 15% target, the majority of companies in North America have still not made the pledge.
“”Many companies say, “We are afraid to make the promise because we are afraid of failure.” What many of these CEOs fail to realize is that they are already failing. The non-commit is the failure. Because racial justice is such a complex and sophisticated conversation, many CEOs and companies in general are paralyzed not to act, “said James.
“I understand that to a certain extent. It’s a difficult area to operate in and that’s why I’m so proud of the work we do at The Pledge. It’s really about working hand in hand with people hold and hold them accountable – but we just have to make sure that we can actually use these huge companies as a means of change. “
James pointed out the innovative promise Sysco Done with billionaire Robert Smith and his organization to fund students at historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs each year to increase opportunities for blacks.
“When we look at the barriers to entry for blacks, it starts at the very beginning. When we talk about the American dream and say that this isn’t necessarily available to everyone, it’s really not because the chips are stacked against you, if you come from certain neighborhoods or neighborhoods, “said James. “For them, getting rid of student debt or giving students access to school when they couldn’t otherwise have afforded it is a really big deal for them. A lot of people know what it’s like to have that burden of Student debt that weighs on you. “
Photo: Association for Business Opportunities
Connie Evans is President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, a nonprofit trade association committed to providing funding and services to underrepresented entrepreneurs to help them start, stabilize, and grow their businesses.
Evans said there needs to be a mechanism for delivering on promises made by companies to assess their impact.
“There does not appear to be a focus on creating a centralized reporting mechanism to capture the disbursement of these pledges, their use or their impact,” said Evans.
AEO worked with PayPal Supporting black and brown small business owners through grants and providing business tools.
“Companies are starting to take a more strategic approach that improves black and brown entrepreneurs’ access to resources and services. One of the ways is to increase synergies from market players,” said Evans. “For example, PayPal turned to AEO, a leader in microbusiness, to connect with black business owners affected by Covid-19 and civil unrest. Then they went a step further Adobe, Facebook, Guidehouse, Deloitte, MasterCard, Qualtrics, and Go Daddy into partnership to create new resources for this community. “
To continue building on 2020 growth, companies need to do more than just provide one-time grants, Evans said.
“There needs to be a long-term approach to promoting equity for black and brown entrepreneurs. If the job is a one-off response that matters only to the current situation, it’s short-sighted. It will take many seasons to do business make a full recovery and will continue to need support as they rebuild their capacity and resilience, “said Evans.
To do this, companies also need to make internal changes and create a more inclusive workspace.
“Organizations will also fall short if they haven’t made internal changes to address equity and inclusion within the organization so that the changes they want to make in their customer market are sustainable. These internal changes are the beginning of a fully inclusive economy PayPal and our other partners have made sure they have looked internally for changes that meet systemic requirements to keep the work sustainable, “said Evans.