A blueprint for racial equity

Image by fizkes
CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity
by Mahlet Getachew, Yusuf George & Kendra Berenson
18 August 2021
JUST Capital, PolicyLink, and FSG have recently launched the Corporate Racial Equity Alliance, believing that business can, and must, be a force for good.

Through collective efforts – and with support from partners like Virgin Unite – we are striving to build an economy that works for all Americans, helping companies improve how they serve their workers, customers, communities, shareholders, and the environment.

Over the past year, conversations around racial equity have become increasingly prevalent across all facets of society, as the US reckons with its history of systemic racism and the injustices and inequality still faced by Black and Brown Americans today.

With its far-reaching impacts on the livelihoods of its workers and communities, corporate America holds key levers of change, and JUST Capital, PolicyLink, and FSG are working to ensure that business leaders know how to best employ those levers in building a more equitable future for all Americans.

CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity
CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity

In order to truly meet the needs of the moment, corporate leaders must strive for results against stated commitments – and based on our collective research we’ve developed key principles and strategic guidance for corporate leaders looking to move from incremental commitments to enterprise-wide transformation.

Our 2021 CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity provides concrete actions across three broad domains of corporate influence: within the company, within the community, and within society. In developing the 2021 Blueprint, we interviewed 40 C-suite executives of some of America’s largest companies to better understand the opportunities and challenges they’ve faced in advancing racial justice in their workplaces and communities. One business leader shared, “The first strategy plan I wrote (about three years ago) had the word ‘equity’ in it, and it got crossed out; now that word is everywhere.”

Our 2021 CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity provides concrete actions across three broad domains of corporate influence: within the company, within the community, and within society.

While there’s momentum for change in corporate America, what we also heard is that the path to get there remains unclear. Research over the past year has shown that, despite rising calls for racial justice, efforts so far have been incremental. According to research from PolicyLink, more than 100 million Americans live in economic insecurity every day– that means for every third American, even a short-term illness, loss of income, or emergency expense was likely to be insurmountable.

Image by fizkes
Image by fizkes

If you are a CEO, let that number sink in – and note that economic insecurity is disproportionately impacting communities of color, who despite comprising 38% of the US population represent 52% of those living in economic insecurity. Know, too, that while corporate leaders are doing more today than they were three years ago, there’s much, much more to do.

JUST Capital’s Corporate Racial Equity Tracker shows that change so far has been incremental, with America’s largest employers more likely to disclose baseline DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion ) commitments – like diversity and opportunity policies – than concrete actions – like quantitative diversity targets – that show accountability toward progress.

To support business leaders in their efforts to translate commitments into lasting action, PolicyLink, FSG, and JUST Capital are leveraging key takeaways from the Blueprint and working alongside partners to develop rigorous corporate performance standards for racial equity – setting the bar for what good looks like and establishing consistency for how corporations should approach, measure, disclose, and speak publicly about their efforts to advance racial equity.

CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity
CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity

You can get involved right now by taking this brief survey and sharing with us: How can our standards development work help you in your work, your day-to-day, and your community? We hope you dive in with us on this survey, which will be open through August 31, 2021, and we can’t wait to share more soon about our standards development.

Corporate America must catalyze a new way of doing business and ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. Government and civil society cannot do it alone, but together, we can ensure that all efforts add up to the 100 million economically insecure people in America being better off.

Join us on this journey, for so much is possible when we bring together our greatest strengths to address our most pressing needs.

Mahlet Getachew is the Managing Director of Corporate Racial Equity at PolicyLink, Yusuf George is the Managing Director of Programs and Strategic Engagement at JUST Capital, and Kendra Berenson is an Associate Director at FSG.