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More than 1,400 CEOs of the world’s leading companies and business organizations are leveraging their voices to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In November, CEO Action brought together over 1,100 chief executive officers (CEOs), chief diversity officers (CDOs), and chief human resource officers (CHROs) for the 4th annual CEO Closed-Door Session and CHRO & CDO Summit.

Topics addressed include how to facilitate conversations about race, be proactive about succession planning, hold business accountable to its commitments, and facilitate cross-functional collaboration between CEO, CDOs, CHROs, and Government Affairs.

Featured speakers included author Dr. Robin DiAngelo, consultant, bestselling author, educator and facilitator on issues of racial and social justice, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood, and Emmanuel Acho, former NFL linebacker, author and host of “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”

“Stakeholders are putting heightened importance on racial equity and CEOs need to collaborate with their peers to drive greater progress in their own organizations,” said Tim Ryan, PwC US Chair & Senior Partner and co-founder of CEO Action in a  statement. “As CEOs accelerate change by taking actions such as appointing Chief Diversity Officers, engaging their boards and making external commitments and statements, they collaborate with their peers and the coalition to drive greater progress.”

In October, the coalition launched CEO Action for Racial Equity, a one to a two-year fellowship that has brought together over 100 organizations and 250 fellows to address racial equity public policy.

“One of the clearest and most painful takeaways of the past several months is that racial injustice remains a stain on our society—both in the United States and around the world. And one of the most important lessons that we should draw from this moment is that each of us must play an active role in fighting to eradicate systemic racism and standing up for equality in all its forms,” said Enrique Lores, President & CEO, HP. “It’s not simply the right thing to do for the people and communities we serve. Embracing a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion drives innovation and strengthens a company’s performance.”

Key takeaways from the 4th Annual CEO Closed-Door Session and CHRO & CDO I Summit:

  • Being antiracist requires persistent self-awareness and regular self-examination. Organizations should consistently listen and reflect on practices, culture, and the experiences of people to make lasting change.
  • Potential is universal, opportunity is not. Leaders can — and should — extend their privilege and voice to help break down barriers and create pathways for others and be deliberate in succession planning.
  • Be an active listener as you lead. Uncomfortable conversations are a critical component in addressing diversity and inclusion in succession planning.

“This is a defining time for us as CEOs, and we must let our purpose and core values guide us to champion the interests of not only our clients but of all our stakeholders in the communities that we serve,” said Penny Pennington, Managing Partner of Edward Jones. “With the help of CEO Action, we’re committed to doing the work, to listen, learn, lead on issues of inclusion, equity, and diversity, and be accountable.”

CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion (D&I) within the workplace.

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