A Diversity CEOs Reflection

The Aftermath of George Floyd’s Death:  One Year Later

As I reflected on the impact of George Floyd’s murder and how it changed the way the workplace engages empathy. I’ve never been more inspired to see how organizations shifted their focus to lean into racial and social injustices wholistically. 

Corporate America and large organizations who employ thousands of people have paused, as they recognized their need to shift and gain a better understanding to level set, what they have ignored in their workforce. This included atrocities that they were not aware of that pained their people of color every day.  The microaggressions employees of color, and leaders of color, were dealing with because of systemic racism.  Just to be clear, this is not limited to the fear that mothers of color have for their brown and black children, but its inclusive of the issues among ethnic groups that have a level of descension and hate that festered in silence.  The bubble has been popped.

I further reflect on how the consciousness has been raised among those that have privilege and influence and the efforts that have been made across the nation and the world to acknowledge the existence of inequities and privilege.  The need and urgency to have the diversity and inclusion role elevated has become a symbol of recognition of what needs to be done. 

We must be careful if organizations are not providing the necessary resources and training.  CEO pledges need to ensure parity and equity exists and can manifest in a positive meaningful way.  We must celebrate CEOs, like salesforce  who acknowledge they must be accountable for self-correction of inequities identified, as there are so many CEOs that are not committed to doing more than just signing a pledge.   According to DMBA 2020 Inclusive Leadership Index 57 percent of companies has pay inequities as a senior leadership initiative, yet only 36 percent of companies are implementing corrective actions.

What is a pledge without ensuring it is sustainable?  We do have a pledge of allegiance to our country, “the United States of America, to which all people are supposed to be equal and justice for all.” But the reality is we have groups that demonstrate they want to annihilate our countries fundamental belief system, which is ironically, protected by the fifth amendment, freedom of speech.

I think about how George Floyd’s death and how it inspired legislation coupled with action that has brought many groups together for change so that our future generations can thrive.  Jesse Jackson Sr. coined, “keep hope alive” as we need not to lose the momentum of what has been achieved. The significant support and shift companies are making to invest into underserved and underrepresented communities is at an all time, according to DMBA Inclusive Leadership Index. 

Let us celebrate and recognize the progress.  There is a substantial increase with organizations having authentic  conversations within the workplace.  According to DMBA Inclusive Leadership Index one year later, they went from 56 percent of companies to 78 percent of companies having some level of engagement due to racial issues in the communities.  We are seeing a sensitivity and vulnerability to people of color, in the workplace, we have not experienced since affirmative action. 

Large private and public corporations are slower to change. The fact they have a heightened awareness  with measurable investments into underserved and under-represented communities, is true to their core values is what we must hold on to.  CEOs and Chief Diversity Officers say they are going to own this space now while they can foster what is needed.  The Biden Administration is demonstrating its commitment to change and that to, becomes a part of the movement promoting disruption which is how positive change occurs.

So much has converged and lets all take a lesson and pull a nugget to go forward. The most powerful lesson is that legislation and policy is what breaks through systemic racism.

Power in our voices, power in organizing and power in standing up for what you believe in. 

Pamela A. McElvane
Diversity MBA Media

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