YPO member Brian Hall, CEO at Innogistics, LLC, shares his advice for creating inclusive business cultures and how it can ensure racial equity.

If you’ve ever played hide-and-seek with a young child, you have had this experience.

After closing your eyes and giving them time to hide, you open your eyes and turn to see them attempting to hide, but in plain sight. Perhaps they are behind a chair or a curtain. 

Of course, as adults, we pretend we cannot see them. We look all around, ignoring what we see, so the game has a chance to play out.

This is what businesses around the world have done relative to racial economic inequities and their root causes.

Racial economic inequities do not need to be revealed any more than the child hiding in the curtains. Both are in plain sight. Wherever we look in our vast economic world, those of darker skin hue are doing worse.

These impacts reveal themselves in income, wealth, business revenues and job statistics. In every category in the U.S. for instance, Black and Hispanic businesses and individuals trail their white counterparts by significant measures. This holds true around the globe. In September, the Canadian government announced plans of CAD221 million to address strengthening the capital of Black-owned companies. It recognizes increased equity and success of these companies is good for all of Canada.

Whether it’s slavery in the U.S., or the vestiges of colonialism showing themselves in discriminatory practices or inequitable results in Europe or the former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean, centuries of laws, practices and policies have perpetrated discrimination. Inequitable implementation of benefits, and incentives, compounded the impact for minority groups who were disadvantaged for centuries. The cries and protests being heard around the world go far beyond police brutality and are voices for equity, opportunity and significance.

CEOs worldwide are making bold statements about equitable beliefs on diversity and inclusion outcomes and many are taking new actions or asking, “what can I do?” But they do it while also saying, “Of course, I didn’t do those horrible things that happened decades and centuries ago.”

Racial equity: First thing’s first

The first thing is to completely examine your business, from the boardroom to the maintenance department and all the stakeholders your business touches. Study after study demonstrates diverse teams produce better long-term results.

Ask yourself: Who is on my board? Who are my close advisers? Who is on my team? Who are my suppliers? Most importantly, who are my customers? In a world that is increasingly diverse and increasingly demanding of inclusive culture, how does my firm stack up? What’s the long-term plan to change, if one is needed?

The cries and protests being heard around the world go far beyond police brutality and are voices for equity, opportunity and significance. ”
— Brian Hall, Senior Vice President & Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion, Greater Cleveland Partnership share twitter

Your next step

The second thing to do is conduct a more personal inward search. Consider a learning journey that takes you out of your comfort zone. Whether through literature, art, music, film or theater, we can all explore other cultures and gain other perspectives. History is typically the story written by the victor, while the full story, like the child hiding behind the curtain, may be in plain sight.  

It’s good business

This year in the U.S., the story of Juneteenth became more widely known than ever before. While this isn’t new history, it became more prevalent because people were willing to learn and understand. Our world is full of stories of challenge and triumph by every culture, but how many of us take the time to really listen and learn, to search deeply for each other’s truth?

Building a culture of inclusion will include curiosity and questioning. Organizations that create diverse and inclusive cultures will sustain and outperform. They will be more able to attract the best talent and more capable of retaining the same. Those organization will look for leaders whose vision includes prosperity, acceptance and inclusion, for everyone.

YPO is the community where we can safely and productively discuss important, difficult and uncomfortable issues. The goal never is to divide us, but instead to bring us together in trust and respect in our learning journeys. Recently, events have prompted many conversations among our YPO peers, families, communities and businesses worldwide about racial injustice. Equity and injustice are global issues that surface in the lives of all YPOers. Members from around the globe have been working to create learning opportunities to help guide YPO members and other leaders to be agents of change.