February 15, 2021

Leading in Color Newsletter

February 2021

Black history calls for courageous actions moving forward

Black history shouldn’t be recognized in February only. We have to be diligent and intentional in recognizing this uniquely American history, every day, for it helps light the path we blaze into our shared future. 

The lessons of Black history call on us to remain determined to advocate for change. Access and opportunity in the board room, the c-suite and in small business ownership still eludes too many Black people in Chicago and across the country. And, history has shown that inequitable conditions facing Black people are often precursors to the same conditions faced by other communities of color. 

Black history calls for courageous actions like those we’ve seen recently in the private and public sectors. NASDAQ recently proposed new listing rules that would require companies to have – or explain why they do not have – at least two diverse directors. And, state law in Illinois now requires corporations to publicly disclose the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of their boards. I see those as examples of ways institutions are setting standards for accountability and inclusion.  

We must remain determined, despite this challenging season in which we find ourselves, to advance diversity in business and increase equity in every sector. Representation matters. If people of color are at the table where decisions are made and policies are set, then more innovation occurs and shareholder value increases. This is more than a moral imperative.

How can you be a part of advancing inclusion in business? By nominating the next generation of leaders through our Business Leaders of Color program. The deadline to nominate talented individuals who are ready to serve as corporate board directors has been extended to March 5. You can learn more and nominate someone, including yourself, here.

Nominate A Business Leader of Color Today

Since 2003, the Business Leaders of Color publication has featured 420 board-ready candidates who have served in more than 300 corporate directorships.

Nominations for the 2021 Business Leaders of Color are due by Friday, March 5, 2021.


CII Launches Cohort IV

We have launched Cohort IV of the Corporate Inclusion Institute (CII)! There are 103 Cohort IV participants, representing 9 Chicago-area companies. We salute Aon plc and Nicor Gas for enrolling participants in each of the four cohorts, and we welcome Abbott and Spaulding Ridge as first-time participants. And, sincere thanks to our CII sponsors: Platinum- ComEd and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; and Gold- FSP Chicago and Peoples Gas.

Chicago United is proud to congratulate Mellody Hobson as she prepares to begin her term as the incoming chair of Starbucks! This appointment will make her the only Black woman to lead the board of directors of a S&P company. Did you know Mellody was a 2003 Chicago United Business Leader of Color, a member of our first group? Today, she is one of the most important women in business in the world. A nationally recognized voice on financial literacy, Mellody’s leadership has been invaluable to corporate board rooms across the nation. Prior to her appointment to Co-CEO at Ariel Investments, she served as Ariel’s President for nearly two decades and functioned as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the company. She previously served as Chairman of the Board of DreamWorks Animation and was also a long-standing board member of the Estée Lauder Companies.

Graham Grady, Graham Grady on Pepper Construction Company board, and a 2011 Business Leader of Color, was recently elected to the board Pepper Construction Company. Graham is a partner with the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.

Chicago United board member Cristy Garcia-Thomas, chief external affairs officer for Advocate Aurora Health Inc., was recently appointed to the board of directors of WEC Energy Group. She is a member of the board’s corporate governance committee.

Nichole Barnes Marshall, Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer with L Brands and a 2017 Business Leader of Color, was named to Diversity Woman’s Elite 100 Tribute to Black Women Executives.

Best Practices in Supplier Diversity: Executive Sponsorship featuring BMO Harris Bank

Thurs., March 4, 2021

1 - 2 PM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

ERG Symposium III - Leveraging ERGs to build an Inclusive Culture

Tues., March 9, 2021

9 - 10:30 AM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

Business Leader of Color Author Series featuring Andrés T. Tapia and Alina Polonskaia – The 5 Disciplines of Inclusive Leaders: Unleashing the Power of All of Us

Thurs., March 18, 2021

1 - 2 PM

Virtual program (link provided with registration)

Chicago United Annual Meeting

Weds., March 31, 2021

8:00 AM

Virtual program

300 East Randolph Street, Suite CL920, Chicago, IL 60601-5075
312-977-3060 • www.chicago-united.org