Where do we go from here? How Corporate America Can Push the Anti-Racist Movement Forward
In the past few weeks, it has become clear that America must do better. Americans are confronting our ugly realities that have helped fueled American prosperity, mostly at expense of communities of color, over the last 450 years. The senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others have recently and rightfully ignited the country to action. We owe it to many young Americans, mothers and fathers, and even our elderly for putting their bodies and lives on the line to drive unprecedented awareness across our nation. The question I’ve been asking myself and others, is how do we as corporate leaders help actualize lasting systemic change and reform? The common conclusion is it’s going to require both cooperation in the public and private sector.
Here’s what I believe we can do to create cooperation and influence in both sectors:
- Make Voting a Corporate Holiday
We tend to emphasize and rally when it comes to voting for our President but what is equally important is what we do at a local level. We need to be as invested in voting for our local sheriffs and school board trustees as we are with our senators and presidents. Corporate America should be giving voting days off and encouraging all employees to vote at both the local and federal level. Many companies require service hours. Is there anything more important than our civic day to vote? Give employees this incentive to use those hours and take the day off to enact real change in order to reimagine how we police and serve our communities.
2. Corporate Retail Brands need to take the 15% Pledge
Fashion Designer, Aurora James has created a movement by asking large corporate retailers to rethink how they stock their shelves in order to help drive real economic change within the Black community. Black Americans make up 15% of the population but hold less than 3% of the nation’s total wealth. James created the 15% pledge asking retailers like Whole Foods and Target to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelves to black-owned businesses. So far Sephora is the first major retailer to accept this pledge.
3. Make Juneteenth a National and Corporate Holiday
Today, June 19th commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. If we celebrate the 4th, we need to celebrate the 19th in order to drive awareness and understanding our history. We can’t celebrate the freedom of our nation without recognizing our atrocities that helped build this nation. Corporations have the ability to create ripple effects. We’ve seen large corporations like Salesforce and Google recently give this day off. The more corporations that follow suit help put the pressure on local and state governments to act which in turns influences the Federal level to considerate Juneteenth a national holiday too.
4. Use Technology For Good
Innovation can drive societal change and create new habits. If you told me at the beginning of my career, I couldn’t fathom leaving my home without a phone in my pocket, I’d think you were crazy. Silicon Valley has the unique ability to use technology for good and intact and enable change by using AI to make us smarter, more inclusive and even less biased in our decision making. For example, RSquared is using innovative technology to obtain actionable insights into the state of the corporate workforce dynamics and culture. Their technology can provide insights into prevailing sentiments and even the progress of D&I initiatives within organizations. Companies can commit to hiring diverse personnel but how do they create unbiased transparency in this process? AI can be a powerful tool in removing human bias and the tendency to exclude what isn’t familiar or immediately known. The goal should never be to hire 1 or 2 folks of color but many across levels and departments. However, what is even more important is ensuring that talent is retained by producing a culture that allows all to thrive. Technology can quickly illuminate what needs to change and not only empower leaders to enact change but remain accountable.