Ariel Investments

Black Corporate Directors Conference

Challenge

Despite the fact that many corporations have stated diversity and inclusion commitments, there is still a lack of minorities, particularly African Americans, represented on corporate boards. We have also found that even though some boards have African American and minority directors, the companies themselves are still not living up to their diversity and inclusion commitments across every level of the company.

Actions

For the past 15 years, Ariel Investments has partnered with Russell Reynolds Associates, and other co-sponsors like Deloitte and Ernst & Young, to bring together the nation's leading black directors for the Black Corporate Directors Conference. The conference was designed to develop best practices, to encourage corporate diversity and inclusion and to encourage African-American directors to promote the civil rights agenda within their respective boardrooms.

Although the theme has changed throughout the tenure of the conference, our corporate diversity call to action has remained the same. Our call to action is guided by the three Ps: people, purchasing and philanthropy.

  1. People: Companies can best meet their customers' needs when they are committed to diversity across all levels of their organizations.
  2. Purchasing: When companies are willing to form contractual relationships with minorities across a variety of industries, the corporation's image is bolstered as well as the minority businesses and minority executives they work with.
  3. Philanthropy: Philanthropic contributions to civil rights organizations and other organizations that target minority communities ultimately serve to uplift the corporation's employee and customer bases. In short, diversity and inclusion is a winning strategy for companies and the customers they serve.

We've been fortunate to have amazing speakers like Harry Belafonte and Congressman John Lewis serve as the "conscience of the conference" to remind all of our attendees that it still remains necessary to fight for and promote the civil rights agenda, and to insure that corporations truly adhere to their diversity and inclusion commitments across every level of their organization. We believe that the Black Corporate Directors Conference reinforces our company's strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and allows us to partner with other like-minded business leaders to bring about real change.

Outcomes

As a result of the activism of our attendees, we have seen more comprehensive dialogues surrounding the need for diversity and inclusion within the corporate sector. We have also seen a number of other minority groups take on similar actions and form alliances to collectively work toward a more diverse and inclusive environment.

When a group of diverse people are considered and included, the very best talent always surfaces and the best outcomes result for all parties. Diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it's the best thing to do for our companies and the customers we serve.

John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Ariel Investments

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