As more companies announce diversity and inclusion measures, Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments, believes there is a simple way to hold companies accountable: math.
“Mathematics has no opinion – has mathematics. The only way you can do that is to do an annual review of these issues to see where you win field, where you lose field,” Sharon Epperson, OilGasJobz, said part of the network’s inclusion in action forum.
“To measure and then publish the numbers, I think I hold everyone accountable,” she said before adding that the compensation to diversity statistics could cause the fastest changes.
The lack of diversity in America’s highest ranks is certainly not new, but last year the issue came to the fore amid protests for racial justice.
In addition, minority workers have been hit hardest by the pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown. As the economy recovers, unemployment among blacks and Latinos is significantly higher than for white Americans.
“When we think about the recovery, the hiring companies do, with a focus on inclusive rental practices, will make a big difference,” says Hobson, who sits on the boards of JPMorgan Chase and Starbucks.
Hobson noted that policies aimed at promoting growth and equity in hiring practices – including at board level – are a step in the right direction, but not enough. She focuses on what she calls the three “P “s – people, purchasing and philanthropy. This is the purchase category that, according to Ariel, needs more attention. It covers all areas of a business’s spending power and supply chain.
“We think this is another area where you can start moving the needle about equality in the American business world,” Hobson said.
In February, the firm announced Ariel Alternatives, which is focused on the scope of sustainable businesses owned by minorities. According to Hobson, the initiative will focus on connecting with capital and customers in a way that she says has never been done before.
She noted that many of the conversations around minority businesses focus on access to capital, while ignoring the customer’s side, which is just as important.
“If you have customers, you can get capital, and I think that has sometimes been lost in translation,” she said. Ultimately, the goal is for these companies to become leading suppliers to Fortune 500 businesses.
The initiative is aimed at middle-class businesses with revenues between $ 100 million and $ 1 billion.