Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity

Articles | September 22 2020
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By Ben Hecht

As protests sweep the United States, it’s clear that returning to “business as usual” will not be good for business. In just a few days, countless companies that don’t talk about racism publicly have spoken out to condemn racism and police brutality. Employees of color have openly called out racism in their own institutions. On this critical issue, neither consumers nor employees are looking for vague platitudes about change; they want to see companies committing to action within their own walls. Achieving racial equity in the workplace will be one of the most important issues that companies will tackle in the coming decade.

This became evident to me months ago, when I spoke with almost two dozen executives of Fortune 500 companies. My goal was to understand if and how they were thinking about racial equity as part of my work at Living Cities, a nonprofit focused on closing income and wealth gaps in America. The vast majority affirmed that racial equity was an obvious business imperative. But less obvious was what to do about it. With traditional diversity interventions failing, these leaders — the majority of whom were white — reported feeling ill-equipped, even afraid, to act (Read more).