On June 2, 2020, HACR President & CEO, Cid Wilson joined Yahoo Finance’s On The Move panel to discuss people of color buying into capitalism and corporations.
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JULIE HYMAN: Cid, it’s good to see you. I want ask you your reaction to these black squares on Instagram to these companies coming out and making these statements. And if I may, Cid, I’d like to ask you not only in your professional role but also as an Afro-Latino man as well what your reaction is to the corporate world coming out and making these comments.
CID WILSON: So well, thank you, Julie, and thanks, Adam, for having me as your guest. So a few things, one is that, while I’m pleased that corporate America is responding and they’re making statements, it’s very important that corporate America recognizes that we can no longer think about diversity and inclusion from within the confines of their own headquarters or in their companies.
They have to start thinking about the impact of their black and brown and Latino and diverse employees once they leave the doors of their companies because the reality is is that, if you’re a black employee or a person of color and you leave the company and you’re driving your car, you’re driving while black– and anyone that understands that that could be a traumatic experience when you see a policeman behind you, wondering, is this your day?
And so companies need to think about not only their corporate citizenship but also how they think about their philanthropy and their political participation. So I think that this is a good step, what they’re doing. But I think that this is a step of many that need to be done in order to really change the system that has been harboring racial injustices within the justice system for generations.
JULIE HYMAN: Adam, you have to unmute yourself. Sorry. Now, Cid, this is–
ADAM SHAPIRO: I got it. I got it.
JULIE HYMAN: –the regular Adam forgetting to mute–
ADAM SHAPIRO: Sorry about that.
JULIE HYMAN: –himself once a day.
CID WILSON: Hey, Adam.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Yeah, I do that so you don’t hear me coughing. Good to see you again. Randall Stephenson, I think a few years back, said tolerance isn’t enough. How does corporate America reach the individual?
The men and women who are protesting right now, how do you bring them in to– unless we’re going to change the whole society– to a capitalist system that a great many of us– you used to be in the securities industry– you know, believe in? How do you reach them?
CID WILSON: Well step one is investing in them. We talk about investing in the capital markets. But we don’t do enough to invest in the human markets in terms of education, job training, and the evolution of technology. We have to continue to retrain as we get older.
Secondly is giving your employees a space to be their true selves in the workplace and to show their support by participating in what they’re doing externally, especially in areas of education and other areas of civic participation. The countries are already doing it themselves. But, you know, I think it’s important that they invest in their employees. And I think, if they do that, then you start to feel a sense of partnership and a sense of inclusion.
And that is– will be the first– that won’t solve everything because there’s still the issues of bias, unconscious and conscious bias. But it is a step that corporations can do to help to address this crisis that we have of racial injustices.
MELODY HAHM: And Cid, one of the big questions that is facing many of our local leaders and leaders, of course, of Fortune 500 companies is they don’t want to make the wrong move, the, quote, unquote, wrong move, whatever that may be. And I have heard anecdotally a lot of folks gathering their, you know, black ERGs or Hispanic ERGs, trying to get people of color involved. But there’s another kind of repercussion, right, where black folks are tired, people of color are tired of trying to educate, perhaps, their white leaders, their white managers of all the things that are going on.
So a common phrase now I’ve been seeing is “just Google it, and then leave me alone”. So how do you make sure that there isn’t this sort of animosity and that there could be a real solution rather than a continued divide, which, in some sectors of the economy, we are seeing?
CID WILSON: Well, like many people of color, blacks, Latinos, Afro-Latinos like me, we’re all very tired. It’s something that we address. And I’m also very tired when new companies come in and say, OK, now I get it. Let’s start talking about diversity.
We have been involved in the workforce since the dawn of the republic. And yet, to this day, we still don’t have enough diversity on corporate boards. We still don’t have enough diverse CEOs. There is still not a strong enough pipeline through sponsorships to cultivate future CEOs, both people of color and women.
And this is something that needs to change. And I think even talking about a little bit of what Adam mentioned, part of that system is the “good ole boys club” system. That’s a system that needs to change in terms of what we need to do to really effectuate change so that companies can feel comfortable rather than having to scramble to find anyone in their company that might be black, Latino, a person of color, to start asking them, hey, how should I handle this stuff? And that includes who they’re using as their advertising firms so that they can make sure that they have that they have a diverse talent to guide them on these issues.
JULIE HYMAN: And Cid, I want to pick up on something else that you mentioned, which is political contributions and support. There was a report by Judd Legum this morning from “Popular Info”. That’s a newsletter he writes.
He said, major corporations– he tweeted this– publicly embracing Black Lives Matter, including Citi, Google, Amazon, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to members of Congress who are rated F by the NAACP over the past couple of years. So how do– does that equation change?
CID WILSON: You, ultimately– you bring up a topic that is a continual discussion that we have– not only myself, but our 14 coalition organizations of Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organizations. And that is very hypocrisy of making political donations to your company’s political action committee to individuals who are blocking progress when it comes to diversity and inclusion and addressing racism. And that’s something that needs to be called out further.
But it actually starts, in my opinion, with the employee resource groups. There was a company that was making some donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations until their very own internal LGBTQ organization started to really voice their concerns internally. And that caused the company to change. So it’s not only just what we’re doing externally. But it’s also how we can make sure that we’re empowering the employee resource groups to be that voice to effectuate change and, if you’d have the combination, I think you can see results.