Black Lives Matter: From Rhetoric to Action for US Companies
We are seeing so many emails and blog posts from companies that say: “We Stand With Black Lives Matter Protesters”. But when all is said and done, how does a company move beyond rhetoric to action?
Saying you support the Black Lives Matter movement is a far cry from hiring and training black people locally and giving our neighbors an opportunity to thrive in our communities and the larger world. It is a long way from promoting black members of our companies to leadership roles where they can empower other people of color by providing role models.
Yes, it is important for Americans to stand together to make clear that injustice to any group is an injustice to us all. But businesses have to do more.
A Call to Action
First and foremost, employers must be colorblind and give all human beings a chance at work opportunities regardless of race, color or creed.
But more importantly, employers need to reach out to people – especially young people – who don’t even realize the options available today. At Potomac our team members get to work with lasers, 3D printers and CAD design software. These technologies may seem to be out of Star Wars movies but today these tools are an everyday reality in companies from Potomac to Amazon to Walmart, who are leading the way to New Collar jobs across industries.
Mike Davis, Potomac’s VP of Manufacturing, points to our diverse team and says, “It is the strongest group we have ever had in our manufacturing plant! Over the course of the company’s history we have hired engineers, operators and technicians who are women, black, Asian, Arabic and Latino. We now also have a paralyzed worker and another team member who has autism, working with both of them to create situations where they can thrive. We look at the individual person and their attitude and we want to give everyone the tools to succeed.”
The company’s relationships with organizations in the county that helps place workers has been instrumental in getting such a diverse workforce. “There are also a lot of personal relationships at play, and many of our employees come to us through referrals”, Mike adds.
The transformation of Potomac neighbor UMBC to a powerhouse STEM university by PresidentFreeman Hrabowski has also provided Potomac with interns from the school’s strong black science and engineering student body. Paid internships have led to full time jobs for many UMBC alumni with potential to advance in their careers.
Upper level management roles are also open to all employees. Sherry Ford, who has been with the company for almost two decades, started working in the accounting department and now serves as the Vice President of Finance and Director of Production. Mike reiterates that Sherry has strong
influence in the company: “Sherry plays a key role in how we plan for today and the future.”
With economic stability comes the political power of Black, Latino and Native American communities to chart a course that leads to freedom for all, especially the generations to come who will be the true innovators. It is our responsibility as businesses to do more – to provide the rewarding careers that lead to true economic equality in our nation.
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