In response to the escalated racial tensions following the
death of George Floyd, we will continue to hold open conversation about the corporate response to these unsettling times.
Guests Christopher Rowland, Global Diversity Officer and Dessa
Johnson, Diversity & Inclusion Leader, NA at ManpowerGroup joined a more
somber D&I Action Call this week to share their organizations’ response to the
murder of George Floyd on May 25th and subsequent social unrest. Floyds
death, as well as several other recent high-profile murders and racially
charged incidents, have spurred two weeks of protests and demonstrations across
the U.S. and around the world – all with a potential resurgence of the ongoing
COVID-19 pandemic looming in the background.
i4cp’s CDO Board Chair Jacqui Robertson lead the discussion –
attended by over 220 D&I leaders – which ranged from the impact on
employee’s immediate psychological well-being to potential long-term responses
organizations can use to help in remedying social injustice and inequity. As
was pointed out several times on the call, I&D leaders are at the front of
two pandemics; one a disease that unequally targets black and brown communities
by capitalizing on social inequities, the other a continuous struggle against
systemic racial injustice and racism that too frequently bubbles to the surface
both in the U.S. and abroad.
- The impact of recent events has been both
personal for employees and culturally challenging for many organizations.
ManpowerGroup - named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere
in 2020 – was no different, with many employees who contacted our guests saying
that they were wrestling with the moment. Rowland shared that he was pleased to
see many leaders willing to reach out and address the issue head on and to
tackle uncomfortable conversations. This was done initially through multiple
internal and external statements. An i4cp pulse survey focused on the current
social unrest showed that at least 85% of organizations have been impacted in
some way, with 56% reporting that the main impact was to employee stress and
productivity. With mental and emotional well-being as a pevasive factor,
showing employer support through formal statements, training leaders in how to
recognize signs of stress, and creating portals for discussion were some of the
ways shared to help create a more psychologically safe work environment.
- Formal statements issued by
ManpowerGroup’s CEO Jonas Prising were sent out organization-wide early on, and
they specifically mentioned racism and the murder of George Floyd by name.
Several external statements were also issued, and ManpowerGroup’s President in
North America, Becky Frankiewicz, sent out a communication discussing some
of her feelings about what was going on and the responses the company had
planned. One powerful bit of transparency Rowland shared was that the president
received some negative feedback about not mentioning George Floyd or racism by
name in her statement, but was able to role-model listening by addressing those
comments in a follow-up statement. He echoed comments shared previously that it’s
OK to ask for a bit of grace in statements and townhalls, as it’s hard for many
to hit the perfect note and that communicating authentically about difficult
topics always involves risk.
- Forums, town halls, and courageous
conversations have been a big part of ManpowerGroup’s response strategy and is
rooted in the need to listen to employees and other stakeholders before taking
further action. The decision was made to have conversations in three forums.
The first are small, family-style chats with five to 10 people from different
levels of the company and from different backgrounds. Those meetings – focused
on personal experiences – leverage a professional facilitator and will
eventually go out across the U.S.. The second forum is a townhall meeting
hosted by a business line leader, with some preparation for what could come up
in a difficult large-group conversation. The third forum is more of a panel
discussion that’s still a two-way exchange led by a consulting firm
specializing in bias. Several other organizations shared their townhall
experiences in the chat, most focused around courageous conversations. Many in
chat mentioned that their leaders directly referenced George Floyd and racism
in either their written statements or townhalls, while several others noted
that those who didn’t mention the incidents directly received some negative
- Community partnerships. Rowland
shared that ManpowerGroup has several partnerships, including the Urban League and CEOAction for Diversity & Inclusion, but that
they are specifically working in Milwaukee with their local Chamber of
Commerce. After identifying racial disparity as the number one liability in
their region in 2018, the CoC interviewd CEOs and did focus groups to help
develop a pledge to increase representation by 15% at the total employee level
and 25% at the manager level by 2025. Rowland said that they would definitely
partner more to accelerate this work, and that these partnerships were critical
to bringing people together to take concrete action on racial justice and to
supporting their core values.
- Leveraging ERG/BRGs. Johnson
shared that ManpowerGroup has also heavily leveraged it’s multicultural
employee resource group – Merge – to help with developing materials and talking
points for their various forums. Merge has also helped to advance the
conversation by creating a hub of resources such as films, books, and articles
that can be shared internally. They are also partnering with a local group
called the Greater Milwaukee African American Employee Resource Group Connection
(link unavailable), who will be hosting a virtual call series called Wellness
Wednesdays that will focus on topics like Black Lives Matter as an ally, as
well as others that will help address racial inequities and injustice. Support
from ERGs/BRGs was widely cited in the chat, with many hosting their
organizations courageous conversation forums.
Other topics from the call:
Many on the call were interested in resources and discussion guides available
from CEOAction, with many on the chat (as well as ManpowerGroup and i4cp)
sharing that they were signatories with the group.
Results of an i4cp pulse survey were also shared on the call,
providing insights on impact and responses to the recent unrest, including:
In addition to this recording, please see these resources: