BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Chamber of Commerce came together Friday morning for a critical discussion about race and equality and how the business community can do its part.
“The business community has a very important role, because without equality of economic outcomes, without real opportunity, without the ability of black individuals and black businesses to succeed and thrive, we’re not going to solve this problem,” said Ronald O’Hanley, chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation.
About 500 people signed up to listen to the conversation, which was held on Zoom. Viewers were able to ask questions afterward.
The moderators talked about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the powerful call for change that has followed. Many shared the sentiment that while discussions are important, the time for action is now. Many offered real solutions that companies can take to become more diverse and equal workplaces.
“What I think gets overlooked are the black people right in front of us. So, your employees in particular. How are they feeling right now? What things have they been saying to you already that you have been overlooking and not listening to?” said Sheena Collier, CEO and Founder of the Collier Connection.
One of the statistics brought up during the meeting is that black people occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions, according to the analysis by the Center for Talent Innovation, a workplace think tank in New York City.
“Go back and look at your organization and look at your boards and look at your senior leadership and rectify if you see there are issues there by sponsoring and mentoring and advancing those people of color that are in your organization,” said Anna Foster, CEO and Founder of A Maven’s World.