A large number of U.S. corporations have pledged billions of dollars to fight racial injustice and increase workplace diversity since COVID-19 struck last year.
Yet, many of those vows have not been entirely completed, and more still needs to be done. But The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) Legacy Initiative hopes to help change the scenario from talk to action. Its new push offers guidance for corporations to accomplish their workplace diversity commitments.
The ELC just released Beyond Promises to Progress: Black CEOs and C-Suite Officers Speak Out on Diversity, a paper calling on corporate CEOs to sustain their pronounced pledges to racial equity in their workforce through meaningful advocacy and accountability in their organizations.
The ELC is regarded as the pre-eminent global organization focused on developing Black corporate C-suite and board leaders.
A blueprint to ignite real progress, the paper was developed through interviews with 17 former CEOs and current and former C-suite executives. It outlines several actions, including change through public policy advocacy, company structure, culture building, and adopting accountability partners, helping achieve racial equity for Black executives. The paper further seeks to help companies address the lack of increased diversity and representation all over corporate America at every level.
The interviewees offered insights on the recommendations outlined. They include actions that corporate leadership can apply, leading to more accountability-driven Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plans. They contain metrics like more board oversight and governance, stronger ties to pay, improved succession planning, and a sharper focus on employee engagement, vendor programs, and philanthropy initiatives.
Michael C. Hyter, CEO of the ELC, stated, “As the Black community is still reeling from the murder of George Floyd and others, as well as the ongoing social and economic impacts of the pandemic, The ELC believes it is imperative upon us as Black corporate leaders to ensure that we continue to reveal the ongoing systemic challenges that are inhibiting true progress towards racial equity and justice in corporate America. More importantly, we believe it is our duty to present a roadmap that will effect change and instill accountability for the promises that were made in the wake of that tragedy.”
Leaders from The Executive Leadership Council Legacy Initiative and those interviewed for the paper agreed that DEI plans must not exist in a silo but rather as an integral part of an organization’s operations if it is to succeed. That means a strategic approach with a clear vision, measurable objectives, strategic imperatives, tracking, metrics, clear accountabilities, and follow-up over a sustained timeframe.
Ira Hall, founding chair of The ELC CEO Diversity Summit and a decades-long member of several corporate boards, stated, “There needs to be a comprehensive structure, no matter what the component parts are of the company’s plan. It must include all the people at the company, the CEO, board of directors, C-suite executives and managers, and the professionals. In addition to people, it must include the purchases of all goods and services, both with vendors and providers of professional services. And it must include all corporate giving.”
Check out more details and comments from other Black leaders on ELC’s new effort here.