Blue Beyond Consulting

Honoring George Floyd: The Work Continues

by Cheryl Fields Tyler — Founder and CEO of Blue Beyond Consulting

As the one-year mark of George Floyd’s murder approaches, it’s important to hold space in honor of his legacy, his family, and the many friends and allies who’ve stood in solidarity through the painful journey of the last year.

For me personally and for several business leaders I’ve spoken with recently, Floyd’s horrifying death on the streets of Minneapolis was an inflection point, the moment when it became inconceivable to remain on the sidelines. I’m not only speaking about the egregious act of violence that claimed his life — and countless others before and since — but also more broadly about systemic racism in our society, communities and workplaces.

To quote the authors of a new report from Deloitte, “Workers do not leave society behind when they show up for work. ‘Society’ is in the office, right alongside them.” Several statistics from that report, “The Equity Imperative,” remind us why the quest for racial equity in the workplace — and everywhere — must continue to be prioritized.

  • Black people hold just 3 percent of executive or senior-level roles among all US-based companies with 100 or more employees
  • 1% or less of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black
  • Black men, on average, earn 87 percent of what the average White male worker earns, while Black women earn only 63 percent of this same amount
  • Black individuals with a college or advanced degree are 1.3x more likely to be underemployed than their White counterparts

The Deloitte report also points out that equity is an outcome — not a program or initiative — and acknowledges that while many businesses have become more diverse and inclusive, their efforts have failed to change economic and social outcomes for millions of Black Americans. “To achieve racial equity,” the report states, “organizations must be willing to transform their beliefs and values and then change their decisions and behaviors. That work should start inside the organization, but also extend to the full range of their external relationships in the marketplace and society.”

It is not easy — indeed, it is fraught — to go into conversations around race, around DEI and Racial Justice, around public policies that are being passed right now, purposefully, to disadvantage traditionally marginalized people. But I feel so deeply that I can’t be for the dignity of people in the world and not be for the dignity of people at work — or vice versa. Others might disagree, but I don’t see these as political issues. These are human issues.

At Blue Beyond, doing this work has involved looking inward to see how we continue the work to be an antiracist organization — where we acknowledge that systemic racism exists within the workplace and are taking steps to ensure that everything we do leads to equity as the outcome. We’ve actively engaged as an organization in talking about Racial Justice and we’re learning to equip and empower people to embed DEI in their work.

We’re not even close to being done. It’s more like we’ve just begun. But in my mind, if we are to truly honor George Floyd and so many others who’ve lost their lives due to both acts of racism and systemic racism, it’s imperative that we use this moment to reflect and re-engage in the fight for Racial Justice. Complacency is not an option.