One year ago, the Business Roundtable announced corporate initiatives and public policy recommendations focused on addressing the racial wealth gap. Business Roundtable members have taken significant steps to deploy resources and implement organizational changes to advance broader economic opportunity in America.  

To better understand this progress, Business Roundtable conducted in-depth interviews with member companies across a range of economic sectors.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, high unemployment and nationwide unrest over the continued killings of unarmed Black men and women, 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges that laid bare the systemic racial inequities that, despite progress over generations, have persisted and prevented many Americans from fully realizing opportunity and justice in America.

In response, Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart, convened member CEOs in June 2020 and established a Special Committee on Racial Equity and Justice. Business Roundtable CEOs immediately took action, beginning by advocating for bipartisan policing reform legislation.  

Business Roundtable CEOs then turned to an issue central to fairness and equity in our economy — the racial wealth gap. After consulting with over 100 experts from across the ideological spectrum to understand the key policy considerations around closing the gaps in economic opportunity for people of color, Business Roundtable CEOs released a set of policy recommendations and corporate commitments in October 2020 that address racial disparities in education, employment, finance, health, housing and the justice systems.

One year later, Business Roundtable CEOs continue to advocate on public policy recommendations to address the racial wealth gap. They have also taken significant steps within their own companies by deploying funds, establishing new organizational policies and practices, developing and expanding partnerships, and increasing their workforce and supplier diversity — all with a goal to create lasting change. They recognize that while they have made meaningful progress, there is still more work to be done.

CEO PERSPECTIVES ON RACIAL EQUITY & JUSTICE

“It is clear that equity in education and quality childcare are two critical components to ensuring a successful future from students of color. And we know that a diverse and inclusive workplace is also crucial to business success. It creates a strong workforce and promotes fresh, innovative thinking. As business leaders, we are collectively opening new paths to jobs and career advancement by reviewing our hiring and promoting practices. We support policy actions that ease student debt burdens, increase access to high quality and affordable pre-K and K-12 education, and increase federal support for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.” 

Mary Barra

Chair and Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company

Chair, Business Roundtable Education and Workforce Committee

“Far too many Americans are limited in their prospects for employment and upward mobility because they have a criminal record, even though they may be qualified for a job. As business leaders, it is incumbent upon us to remove barriers to employment and advancement by allowing individuals with criminal records to fairly compete for job opportunities.”

Craig Arnold

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eaton

Chair, Business Roundtable Racial Equity and Justice Subcommittee on Equitable Justice

“Building a more diverse and inclusive environment is the promise we make to each other, and something all of us strive to carry out each day. The commitment we embrace at Johnson & Johnson is shared by the CEOs of the Business Roundtable.” 

Alex Gorsky

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson

Chair, Business Roundtable Corporate Governance Committee

"In response to an increased need for small business support in 2020, we committed and exceeded $250 million in new capital to CDFIs to provide them with the liquidity needed to make Paycheck Protection Program loans to their clients, along with $10 million in grants to help with CDFI operations. We recognize that our work with CDFIs is crucial to our ability to provide access to capital for thousands of individuals and small businesses who are the backbone of our local communities."

Brian Moynihan

Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America

“The health and well-being of individuals are vital for healthy communities, companies and economies. When disparities exist, it shows we have more work to do on behalf of our society. Businesses are uniquely positioned to lead the way by expanding and accelerating programs to advance health equity and drive cultural change, in close collaboration with our communities, educators, non-profits and policymakers.”

David Cordani

President and Chief Executive Officer, Cigna Corporation

“Lilly is committed to fighting racial injustice and enhancing equity, as well as creating more meaningful economic opportunities for Black Americans. We’ve made progress over the past year, which includes increasing our spend with Black businesses by 50 percent. To help increase African American representation within Lilly, we’ve enhanced employee development programs through an equity lens and bolstered recruiting efforts aimed at Black and other communities – adding several new HBCU recruiting programs, establishing apprenticeship mentorship programs, and eliminating the bachelor’s degree requirement for some jobs. There’s a lot of work still ahead, but we remain committed to leading change in our company, the communities where we live, and the lives of the patients we serve.”

David Ricks

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eli Lilly and Company

“Our country was founded on the core tenants of equality, freedom, justice, and liberty for all, and we, as Americans, are continually striving to fulfill these promises. At Vistra, we want our company to work equitably for our team members, our customers, and the communities we serve. We applaud and wholeheartedly endorse the efforts of the Business Roundtable to establish initiatives to address racial equity and justice. We cannot be the country or the companies we aspire to be without the collective commitments and efforts from the business community.”

Curt Morgan

President and Chief Executive Officer, Vistra Corp.

"As a company, we took the period of racial unrest in 2020 very seriously because we saw it as an opportunity to take a stand and deal with the issue of racial injustice in a proactive way. We wanted to do more to leverage our 178-year legacy as a leading global diversified industrial to be an economic growth engine for people of color. " 

Jim Loree

Chief Executive Officer, Stanley Black & Decker

"While we can't control what happens in the world, we can - and should - always strive to influence and change it for the better. That is the underlying premise of our purpose, and within PwC and the communities in which we live and work, we are committed to fostering an environment that stands for inclusion and equality, and that allows people of all backgrounds to thrive and succeed." 

Bob Moritz

Global Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited

“We strive to advance the pursuit of racial equity through our clients holistically – ensuring a racial equity lens is considered across their external, organizational and philanthropic strategic priorities. This is an often overlooked area where corporations can deliver an outsized impact.”

Christoph Schweizer

Chief Executive Officer, Boston Consulting Group

LEADERSHIP IN ACTION ON RACIAL EQUITY AND JUSTICE

Business Roundtable CEOs are committed to advancing racial equity and justice through thoughtful action.

Read examples of what business is doing: