A year after the murder of George Floyd — and the corporate statements in support of racial equity that followed — some corporations in the private sector say they are working toward an equitable economic recovery.
The Chicago Community Trust’s new Move to Action initiative, which focuses on workforce development, strengthening Black and Latino businesses and investing in neighborhoods, is asking more corporations to make a commitment to equitable recovery by June 21 as part of its We Rise Together initiative.
“It is really a way for us to help those companies who made statements and had aspirations of creating real change, to really help them focus and to take those actions,” said Gloria Castillo, associate vice president of the We Rise Together initiative. “Many of them had already begun to do some work but some had not. For many, they were looking for what they could do in a concrete way that would really move the needle.”
At least 25 companies have already signed on, including Bank of America, United Airlines and Mars Wrigley.
The initiative calls on participating companies to take actions such as: increasing annual spending with local Black and Latino businesses by at least 25%; increasing second-chance hires in the workforce by at least 25%; or investing in EPIC, a real estate equity fund.
Private companies are in a unique position to help achieve equity, Castillo said.
“What private business can do that’s different from public policy is they can make changes to how they create employment opportunities, how they advance talent development and how they create equity inside of their workplace,” Castillo said.
For example, she said some companies have conducted internal pay audits to evaluate inequities and to identify opportunities for improvement.
Castillo — who was previously CEO of Chicago United — said she has noticed a significant increase in the number of companies committing to diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.
“Companies are making more investments in internal structures that help DEI throughout their organizations. That’s not a small thing,” Castillo said. “That means that they are putting their budgets behind it. They’re putting processes behind it. They’re putting measurements behind it.”