August 15, 2021

Leading in Color Newsletter

August 2021

Are You Complicit? 

Members of our CEO Roundtable recently heard from Zain Raj, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Shapiro+Raj, a market research and insights company, as we discussed the issues and challenges critical to implementing sustainable, inclusive cultures in corporate America. 

He described two of the requirements of a successful journey towards DE&I leadership—humility and vulnerability.

“It's okay to not have all the answers,” Zain said. “It's also okay to ask people to help you find the answers.”

He’s absolutely right. In working to disrupt bias and upend inequitable systems, you have to be willing to make mistakes, embrace uncertainty and ask for advice. As Zain says, it is “easy on the sidelines,” where systemic inequities aren’t questioned and too many comply with the status quo. 

There are many times in the past year and a half that I have talked to leaders as we’ve all looked for answers to the best way to address the issues of race in business, within their own companies and ecosystems. Time after time, I’ve said there isn’t a magic bullet to this work. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  These systemic issues didn’t happen overnight and they will not be solved overnight.

But it starts at the top, with great leaders who are intentional. They lead by setting the example, they aren’t complicit with mindsets and practices that allow unfair treatment and exclusionary tactics, and they inspire their organizations to leverage diversity, equity and inclusion.  

We can implement solutions that build an inclusive culture in which everyone feels supported and contributes to better performance. Chicago United regularly talks about and supports these solutions in our programming.  

So, again, I ask… are you complicit, or are you a leader who inspires those you influence to truly advocate for inclusion?  I am hopeful because we are seeing more leaders, like Zain, rise to the top.

The business case is clear: Study after study has shown a direct, positive correlation between a company’s level of diversity, equity and inclusion and its problem-solving capacity, creativity and team cohesion.

In an effort to help businesses harness the power of inclusion and deliver cultural transformation, Chicago United created the Corporate Inclusion Institute (CII), the first city-wide talent development program that builds an organization’s capacity for inclusion by bringing together four professionals from various levels of an organization.

Enrollment for the 2022 Cohort is now open! For more information, contact Doris Salomón, And, help us share the word about this opportunity with others in your network and on social media!

The 2021 Business Leaders of Color

Join us at a special virtual reception for our newest Business Leaders of Color on Thursday, Sept. 23, 5-6 PM. You may RSVP here: Chicago United

We will officially introduce them at Chicago United’s Bridge Awards Dinner, “A Movement, Not a Moment,” to be held Thursday, Nov. 18 at the Hilton Chicago at 5:30 PM. Please mark your calendars and make plans to join us!

Four of our members were recently included on the U.S. News and World Report annual listing of the nation’s best hospitals. Congratulations and thank you to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical CenterUniversity of Chicago Medical Center and Advocate Christ Medical Center, which is part of Advocate Aurora Health.

Negocios Now recently announced that 2009 Business Leader of Color David Andalcio, founder of Wynndalco Enterprises, LLC. has received its Community Champion Award. Congratulations and thank you for your commitment to the communities in which you do business.

Congratulations to Business Leaders of Color Adela Cepeda (2005), Jose Luis Prado (2017) and Paul S. Williams (2017) for being recognized among leading corporate directors, corporate governance experts and influencers by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) in its 2021 Directorship 100 honorees. These individuals have made a significant impact on boardroom practices and performance.

Diversity Officer Roundtable: Building an Inclusive Culture at United Airlines

Featuring Jessica Kimbrough, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, United Airlines

Wed., Sept. 15, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

BLC Author Series 

Featuring Virginia (Ginny) Clarke (2015 Business Leader of Color) Author of Career Mapping: Charting Your Course in the New World of Work

Wed., Sept. 22, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

CEO Roundtable Series

Hosted by John Robak, Chief Executive Officer, Greeley and Hansen

Tues., Sept. 28, 2021 | 8:00 - 9:30 AM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

Hosted by Mellody Hobson, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Ariel Investments

Wed., Oct. 6, 2021 | 8:00 - 9:30 AM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

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