From the CEO: Driving Bias out of Business

SHRM has launched Together Forward @Work, a multifaceted platform designed to help the business community rid its workplaces of racism and social injustice.

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP August 24, 2020
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From the CEO: Driving Bias out of Business

On May 25, the world watched in horror as George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on video. The public response was swift and emotional. And our society hasn’t been the same since that ugly incident came to light. 

A universal soul-searching began as it became painfully clear that racism is still part of daily life for many. And like every social issue, it manifests itself in the workplace.

Since that tragic event, I have spoken to many CEOs and other business leaders who are frustrated that they haven’t cracked the code on diversity and inclusion in the workforce. They lament having spent significant time and money hiring consultants, conducting training and hosting events, and still they feel they’re not making progress

It has long been the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) goal to root out bias in the workplace, solve pay inequities, stand with people and groups who traditionally are locked out of the workplace, elevate the importance of inclusion, and use our platform for good around the U.S. and the world.

But it’s time to do more—all of us. Last month, SHRM launched one of the boldest initiatives in our history: Together Forward @Work, a multi- faceted platform designed to help the business community drive racism and social injustice from its workplaces by adopting specific actions and measurable outcomes. 

This is what creating better workplaces for a better world looks like. It takes courage, but that’s the cost of true change.

As a first step, we created a Blue Ribbon Commission on Racial Equity, which brings together individuals with powerful voices and critical expertise from within SHRM and beyond—including two of our volunteer leaders. The commission is currently strategizing and developing a robust set of actions and benchmarks that will drive a long-range agenda on workplace diversity and overcoming bias.

We have also released the first in a series of original research reports that sheds light on perceptions about racism and bias in our workplaces. Its findings are disturbing but also enlightening. Information is power, however. Equipped with these and other data, workplace leaders can develop a road map for achieving demonstrable change.

Finally, we are providing a platform of evolving content and tools for growth, learning and collaboration. These resources are open to everyone; all that’s required is a commitment to learn and listen—and talk (visit SHRM.org/togetherforward).

Together Forward @Work is not just SHRM’s initiative—it’s yours. We need our entire member community to be a part of these efforts. I urge you to familiarize yourself with SHRM’s resources on workplace bias and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and to leverage our new research within your own organizations. And I hope you will prioritize having regular conversations with your staff about bias to foster more-inclusive, more-engaged and more-equitable workplaces. 

This is what creating better workplaces for a better world looks like. It takes courage, but that’s the cost of true change. 

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management

Photograph by Delane Rouse for HR Magazine

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