In 2017, when we launched CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion with 150 companies, our goal was to rally the business community to take measurable action: to cultivate our workplaces as environments where diverse experiences and perspectives were welcomed and where employees would feel comfortable and encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion. One key element of the initiative is the CEO Pledge that business leaders sign upon joining. The pledge’s initial three core elements were to hold difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion; to educate people about unconscious bias; and to share best — and unsuccessful — practices.
This year, we added a fourth element to the pledge: To engage with the board of directors. Specifically, this means committing to a diversity and inclusion–related strategic plan that will be prepared by management and reviewed with the board. Now, the coalition has more than 750 business or nonprofit organization signatories, representing more than 15 million workers in the United States. There is a core group of more than 2,000 C-suite executives — CEOs, CHROs, and CDOs — who are working together to share practices for conducting the difficult, uncomfortable, and courageous conversations that lead to substantive change in the workplace. They see diversity and inclusion not just as talent issues or sources of competitive advantage, but as an opportunity to influence society.