Bosses say they want to tackle racial injustice

American firms want to become more diverse

The Economist | June 11, 2020

The Economist article, "Bosses say they want to tackle racial injustice," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Evan Sharp on how company statements being made about race seem to hold intention, rather than words alone. The article is excerpted below.

“I am both impatient and disgusted.” So declares a letter on race sent on June 1st by Mary Barra, chief executive of General Motors (GM), to all of its suppliers. She is outraged by the killing of George Floyd, the latest in a long string of deaths of unarmed black Americans at the hands of the police. The response of business to the problem should be to “stop asking why and start asking what”, she wrote. Ms Barra put GM’s thousands of suppliers on notice that the firm will not tolerate racism and will stand up against injustice.

Are bosses to be taken seriously? There is a long history of corporate waffle and “race washing” that has deflected short-term crises but yielded little substantive change inside firms. The survey by Edelman finds big majorities of blacks and whites expressing hostility towards “performative activism”—posturing—and insisting that firms now making statements about tackling racism “need to follow it up with concrete action” to avoid being seen as exploitative.

Despite these concerns, there are signs that USA Inc is at last serious about tackling racism. Evan Sharp of Russell Reynolds, an executive-search firm, notes that statements on race are going beyond platitudes to be “more intentional and specific.”

Mr Sharp says that mixing at work “allows the opportunity to have difficult conversations on topics like race.”

To read the full article, click here​.

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Bosses say they want to tackle racial injustice