Paying lip service to diversity and actively pursuing it are two different things. The former results in empty pronouncements; the latter requires genuine commitment.
Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier — one of just four black Fortune 500 CEOs — grew up in inner-city Philadelphia. The opportunities that came his way, ultimately leading him to the top spot at the pharmaceutical company, began with a busing program that allowed him to attend a more rigorous school 90 minutes away, he told CNBC last week.
“What put my life on a different trajectory was that someone intervened to give me an opportunity to close that opportunity gap,” Frazier said. “There are huge opportunity gaps that are still existing in this country.”
He went on to explain that customs, policies, practices and beliefs still lead to inequity for black Americans, damaging our country and our economy, and ultimately, businesses.
Corporations can play a major role in bridging the gap.
“Business has to go beyond what is required here; it has to go beyond just statements,” Frazier said. “Businesses can step up and provide the leadership that I think our country needs.”
Many companies, including banks, have voiced their opposition to racism in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd. But for many Americans, those words ring hollow.
Few bank boards feature ethnically diverse directors, despite 87% of CEOs, HROs and board members telling Bank Director in 2018 that board diversity positively impacts an institution’s performance.
Our 2020 Compensation Survey — which publishes on Monday — finds that less than half of banks measure progress toward diversity & inclusion (D&I) goals and initiatives.
Measuring diversity is a small but necessary step toward achieving it.
You can’t fix what you don’t know.
/ vice president of research for Bank Director