Corporations have been touting diversity and inclusion initiatives for years, but racial minorities still make up only a small sliver of the executive branch of leadership teams. Illustrating this point, The New York Times recently published a powerful interactive feature about diversity in leadership in today’s America. The article noted that 80% of the topmost powerful people in the country are white, even as the U.S. becomes more diverse. What’s more, at the top 25 most valued corporations, Black leaders are less represented in leadership roles than they were in years past. There are now only four Black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies. This shows a decline from 2012, when six Black CEOs were leading Fortune 500 organizations. As recently pointed out in the Harvard Business Review: Most organizations have failed to “walk the talk” in delivering on
long-held promises to further diversity and inclusion. As conversations about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the board room and in the C-Suite get louder, the reality is that the face of American business leadership still does not accurately reflect the face of America.
To better understand the implications of CEOs taking on the responsibility for ensuring racial diversity across their organizations, we launched the BRANDfog 2020 Survey, Addressing Racial Injustice in the Corporate World. We asked if CEOs prioritizing diversity and inclusion helps to define great leadership, and if speaking out on this issue makes customers feel more aligned to the values of that brand. The overwhelming response to those and similar questions was yes. Customers see this as the job of the CEO.