Racial Equity

Developed with support from nuwave Equity Corporation and nuwave Agency 

VBR Racial Equity


The Vermont Business Roundtable, like many other leadership organizations, has identified racial equity as a necessary lens through which to view our current and lasting impact on our state. Establishing fair and equal access to building prosperity for businesses and individuals is not as simple as removing explicitly exclusionary language or policy. It requires actively addressing existing disparities in our education systems, our workforce, and our communities – and what we know is that by addressing these disparities there is a collective benefit for all Vermonters.

And while our business community has ramped up DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) policy efforts, and our elected officials have shored up our laws (The Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act) there is more discussion to be had and, more importantly, actions to be taken.

VBR is anti-racism.


The Roundtable is committed to creating, developing, and sustaining a Vermont environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion, with the goal of eliminating institutionalized racism. This is why VBR created our Racial Equity Committee (REC).

We understand this takes time, and it all starts with listening, reading, watching, learning, sharing…But it doesn’t stop there. Leadership is local – whether in our businesses or in our communities.

 

Failing to address equity is bad business.


Equity and diversity are central to the health and vitality of our communities, but it goes beyond doing the right thing. The bottom-line benefits of racial equality and diversity in the workplace are significant:

  • Creativity and decision-making – Diversity is proven to boost innovation and, as a result, companies’ financial performance. A European Institute for Managing Diversity report notes, it can help firms move away from “limited unilateral thinking” and guide them towards discovering new products, markets and ways of doing business.
  • Financial performance
    • A McKinsey report found companies that performed worst on diversity 1 were almost 30% more likely to underperform on profitability.
    • Racism Has an Economic Cost, Atlanta Fed President Warns 2
      • Specifically, the study came up with $16 trillion in lost GDP by noting four key racial gaps between African Americans and whites:
        • $13 trillion lost in potential business revenue because of discriminatory lending to African American entrepreneurs, with an estimated 6.1 million jobs not generated as a result,
        • $2.7 trillion in income lost because of disparities in wages suffered by African Americans,
        • $218 billion lost over the past two decades because of discrimination in providing housing credit, and
        • $90 billion to $113 billion in lifetime income lost from discrimination in accessing higher education.
      • The research that diversity in the workplace powers innovation and financial performance 3 is mounting. Some studies indicate that companies with pro diversity policies performed better, and had greater resilience during the 2008 financial crisis, and the reason is more diverse companies have greater levels of innovation.
  • Employee attendance, health, and productivity – Racial discrimination and workplace bullying can lead people to smoke or drink heavily as a coping mechanism, according to a study from the US National Institute for Health. 7 In addition, it can lead to an increase in problems like obesity and high blood pressure, as well as depression and anxiety, and counterproductive behaviors like leaving work early, arriving late, or not completing work on time.

And being actively an anti-racist workplace ultimately benefits everyone – regardless of race.

 

We get the “why,” but the “how” feels huge.


Race-related issues are typically addressed by companies with policies and procedures that are compliant with legal requirements. These efforts, clearly well-intentioned, are only the first steps towards creating a business culture and workforce that truly embraces equality.

As business leaders, here are things you can do to actively advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace:

  • Bring in expert help! (Abundant Sun | CQ StrategiesThe Creative Discourse Group | Pinnacle Coaching | Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity)
  • Provide internal & external mentorship opportunities for employees
  • Set organizational goals and KPIs tied to DEI
  • Measure and track DEI related data
  • Diversify your marketing materials
  • Volunteer and financially support diverse community programs
  • Diversify your supply chain and vendors to include BIPOC, minority, and underrepresented community owned businesses. This can also be industry specific
  • Create a DEI statement reflective of your values and commitments
  • Attend and support community events that celebrate diversity in all forms
  • Partner with local services to source talent from underrepresented communities
  • Implement zero tolerance policies
  • Create safe environments for your employees to voice concerns

 

The benefits of racial equality and diversity in the workplace are significant, and include enhanced:

SOURCES:

  1. McKinsey & Company — “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters” (May 19, 2020 | Report)
  2. NPR, All Things Considered, Emma Bowman (July 15, 2020)
  3. McKinsey & Company — “Delivering through diversity” (January 18, 2018 | Report) by Vivian Hunt, Lareina Yee, Sara Prince and Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle
  4. Fast Company — “Want A More Innovative Company? Simple: Hire A More Diverse Workforce” (1-12-2018) by Ben Schiller
  5. Cision PR Newswire — “70% of Job Seekers Value a Company’s Commitment to Diversity When Evaluating Potential Employers“ News provided by The Manifest (June 18, 2020)
  6. Academy of Management — “Black Employees Matter, but Can They Take a Knee at Work?” (July 9, 2019) by Angelica Leigh and Shimul Melwani
  7. CECOM/Equal Employment Opportunity Office — “Effects of discrimination in the workplace” (February 12, 2015) by Neslie A. Etheridge
  8. Edelman — “Two-Thirds Of Consumers Worldwide Now Buy On Beliefs” by Richard Edelman (October 2, 2018
  9. Edelman — “A Universal Demand For Change” by Richard Edelman (June 9, 2020)

 

Want to Read, Listen, or Watch more?

Watching:

13th

When They See Us

American Son

Dear White People

See You Soon

If Beale Street Could Talk

Moonlight’ Barry Jenkins

Fruitvale Station

Just Mercy

I am not your Negro; Documentary on James Baldwin

 

Listening:

Code Switch

Yo, Is This Racist?

The Secret Life of Canada

Seeing White

Nice White Parentgs

Asian Enough

Identity Politics

Colour Code

Born and Raised

Is This for Real

 

Reading:

The Bluest Eye; Toni Morrison

I know why the caged bird sings; Maya Angelou

The Establishment – Here’s what You’ve missed Ijeoma Oluo

The Skin we’re in – a year of Black Resistance and Power ; Desmond Cole

Between the world and me; Ta-Nehisi Coates

Why I’m no longet talking to white people about race; Reni Eddo-Lodge

Me and white supremacy; Lay;a F Saad

Natives, Race, and Class in the Ruins of empire, Akala

So you want to talk about race; Ijeoma Oluo

 

We are in the process of updating this page with fresh information. In the interim, we invite you to visit our Racial Equity Committee page to read VBR’s Commitments to Action and for our previously curated resources.

Visit our 5th ELS Page for media and resources related to Heather McGhee.