Protests and social unrest following the death of George Floyd and others, along with the detrimental effects of COVID-19 and the economic downturn disproportionately affecting employees and communities of color, are driving an intensified national dialogue and heightened consciousness of systemic racism and inequities. During a September 24 Board Leadership Center (BLC) webcast, panelists discussed the pivotal question facing corporate America: What’s different this time?
A report from the KPMG BLC, Race and accountability in the boardroom, highlights questions driving critical conversations in boardrooms today:
“These are not new questions,” noted Stephen Brown, KPMG BLC senior advisor. “But the events of 2020 have clearly given diversity and racial justice a new urgency.”
In recent interviews, CEOs, chief diversity officers, board members, and others have acknowledged the painful reality that the country—and corporate America—have not made enough progress and there is much work to be done.
The report details actions for boards to consider to help drive progress and accountability:
Brown noted that investors and other corporate stakeholders will be watching closely whether companies’ statements of commitment and support for diversity, equity, and inclusion are followed up by action. “What’s also different this time is the sustained scrutiny and pressure for progress that I’m sure we’ll see.”