As I reflected on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I spent some time honing in on the words of a little song by the legendary James Taylor. “Shed A Little Light” is an homage to Dr. King and in it, the lyrics say, “We are bound together by the task that stands before us.” Those lyrics, which literally give me chills each time I hear them, speak to the task before philanthropy, which is leading the charge in healing divides in our communities and shoring up internally to ensure that our sector represents the many voices in our society.
I recently signed on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, a CEO-driven pledge to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I strongly urge other sector leaders to do the same.
As part of this pledge, more than 300 CEOs, from some of the biggest corporations and organizations in the world, have committed to push for greater diversity and inclusion in their respective workplaces. By taking advantage of such a large swath of the business community, CEO Action hopes to create a lasting legacy of workforce diversity and inclusion.
Here’s why it’s so imperative that philanthropy engage in this initiative.
Philanthropy has always been and will continue to be at the forefront of how our nation tackles some of its thorniest issues. Even today, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is leading a National Day of Racial Healing as a way to promote conversation in communities during a time when many areas seem to be deeply divided.
We’ve seen tremendous interest across the philanthropic sector in building a more diverse workforce. For its part, the Council is proud of its Career Pathways program, which is an executive-style leadership program to build a more diverse pipeline of foundation leaders. At our HR Summit last year, the focus was on diversity, equity and inclusion and I talked with countless foundation leaders who are committed to tackling this issue.
And that’s why I’m encouraging our sector leaders to become signatories of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™.
CEO Action requires three commitments of its signatories:
· Continue to cultivate workplaces that support open dialogue on complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion,
· Implement and expand unconscious bias education, and
· Share best known—and unsuccessful—actions.
These active commitments allow each signatory to approach the challenge in its own way. More importantly, the collaboration between participating organizations facilitates a growing body of knowledge and practices to elevate the entire cohort. In short: it reminds us that we are bound together in this.
On this week, as we honor the legacy of Dr. King and continue to push conversations of unity in our communities, I encourage our sector to join this effort. As James Taylor so aptly sings,
“recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound.”