Ethisphere Launches Racial Equity Project

Business ethics research firm Ethisphere has launched a new effort to develop a social justice framework and identify best practices that companies can use to foster more equity in the workplace.

Known as the Ethisphere Initiative for Equity and Social Justice, the project is a collaboration between Ethisphere’s Business Ethics Leadership Alliance and an advisory council that includes corporate ethics and compliance professionals from companies such as AT&T, VF Corp., Voya Financial, General Electric, Uber, and others. 

The project plans to release sample metrics companies can use to assess racial and gender equity in the workplace, as well as best practices you could use in hiring, compensation, and promotion practices. It also promises “an ongoing series of multi-disciplinary conversations” about social justice in the corporate world, which sounds a bit vague but genuinely is something worth doing. 

Ethisphere plans to host an online forum in October in support of the effort, too; date still to be determined.

“Standing for equality is both a moral and business imperative at AT&T,” said David Huntley, chief compliance officer at AT&T and chair of the project’s advisory council. “This initiative offers the opportunity to join with other leaders to share best practices and brainstorm new ways to advance equity through empowered workforces and communities.”

Why ponder racial equity at all? Well, “Companies have an important role to play, and many are taking actions within their companies and collectively,” Tim Erblich, Ethisphere’s CEO, said in a statement. 

Plenty of data supports Erblich’s point. The Edelman Trust Barometer, for example, finds that large majorities of employees believe it’s important for their CEOs to speak out on social issues — racial justice being one of them. And that report came out in January, before the social justice protests that wracked the country over the summer and a pandemic that disproportionately harms black and Latino persons.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is ranting about diversity training that is somehow un-American because it points out that white people have tended to get all the breaks in this country while those with darker skin haven’t. Just today, the Office of Management & Budget announced the creation of a dedicated email address where people can report “sightings” of un-American training. 

In related ridiculous news, the Education Department is investigating Princeton University because its president said the university must confront past systemic racism. Education Department bureaucrats are interpreting that as an admission that Princeton hasn’t been in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. 

That’s stupid, of course; but it’s also red meat that President Trump is throwing to the white supremacists he needs to secure a second term in office. So corporate organizations are stuck between that nonsense on one side and a highly diverse workforce on the other. 

The more best practices companies can find to navigate their way forward, the better. 

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