From the Streets to the Boardrooms, Racial Equality Matters

If we want to move the needle forward on racial equality, we need responsible allyship from the corporate world.

Following the death of George Floyd, millions of individuals around the world took to social media to express their outrage and their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It wasn’t long before Corporate America’s marketing teams took note and joined in, temporarily turning their brands’ profile pictures black and using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.

Although the public display of solidarity by these corporations was a nice gesture, it was just that: a temporary gesture. If black lives really do matter to the corporate world, change will need to come from within by the predominately white boards and C-suites.

Black people account for about 13.4% of the U.S. population, yet they only occupy 3.2% of senior leadership roles in large corporations, according to research by Forbes. Another multi-year study by the Alliance for Board Diversity and Deloitte found that in 2018, only 11.1% of board of director seats were held by African-American respondents.

In Canada, although the situation remains less publicized, racial inequality continues to persist in the workplace. A 2019 study by the non-profit Catalyst found that between 33% and 50% of the study’s 700 participants that identified as Asian or black reported feeling “on guard” against potential workplace bias. And in terms of the racial wage gap, university-educated Canadian-born members of a visible minority earn, on average, 87.4 cents for every dollar earned by their Caucasian peers.

Despite the lack of racial diversity and equality in the corporate world, progress is being made, albeit slowly.

Hiring of African-Americans and Asians to Fortune 100 board seats increased at a faster rate between 2016 and 2018 than it had in the previous two-year cycles. At the beginning of the year, Canada became the first jurisdiction to require diversity disclosure beyond gender to include race and persons with disabilities. And many corporations have recently begun pledging massive amounts of funding towards racial equality initiatives, like the Bank of America, who pledged $1 billion to help communities address racial inequality.

We know that having diverse leadership teams and workforces leads to stronger organizations, so why aren’t more organizations changing their hiring practices? One reason is that diversity program decisions have long been based on gut instincts, not any type of proven results. If companies truly want to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, they need to take more concrete actions, examining hiring practices across their organization and taking a close look at their corporate culture. Diversity, equality, and inclusion require a strong commitment by leadership, responsible allyship, a unique approach based on the needs of individual organizations, and a way to track metrics for gaging progress.

Corporate accountability has reached an all-time high, as stakeholders — including potential consumers and employees — are arming themselves with information to better advocate for change. At Riddl, we want to help be part of this change. We’ve created a user-friendly workspace that can help organizations track metrics to gage their progress towards equitable hiring practices and other social impact indicators. Impact reports can be easily generated, helping organizations stay on track towards creating stronger, more racially diverse organizations.

Will your organization be part of the solution? Contact us to find out more about how Riddl can help.

Written for Riddl by Jill Mersereau