Chief legal officers and chief HR officers join forces against workplace racial discrimination

We cannot return to ‘business as usual’ in our workplaces, says ACC president

Chief legal officers and chief HR officers join forces against workplace racial discrimination

The Association of Corporate Counsel and the Society for Human Resource Management have announced that they will be allies for change in fighting against racial disparities and bias in the workplace.

Through this alliance between chief legal officers and chief human resource officers, which is called the “first-of-its-kind,” the ACC, through its Foundation, and the SHRM have committed to taking decisive action toward fostering respect and empathy for more inclusive workplaces.

“The death of George Floyd and other African Americans killed at the hands of police, again put into stark contrast the depth and breadth of racial disparities and discrimination in our communities,” said Veta T. Richardson, president and chief executive officer at the ACC. “Just as we cannot simply return to ‘normal’ in our communities, we cannot also simply return to ‘business as usual’ in our workplaces.”

To achieve this goal of advancing positive change, the two organizations will work together to scrutinize workplace policies and to promote opportunities for open and genuine communication and understanding among employees.

The groups co-hosted a two-part webinar series as a part of this initiative. On June 18, the webinar titled “A New Understanding of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion” attracted over 8,600 participants among members and non-members alike. The broadcast covered how chief legal officers and chief human resource officers can create open spaces to raise key issues, how organizations can help in driving change for their communities and how the law itself can act as an obstacle to advancing equality.

“Each of the panelists shared their professional and personal experiences to light a path forward for how individuals and organizations can and must do more to expand equality and empathy,” said Richardson, who moderated the discussion.

Panelists at the webinar included April Miller Boise, general counsel at Eaton Corp, and John Page, general counsel and chief diversity officer at Golden State Foods.

On June 25, the webinar called “Understanding the Journey to Equity and Inclusion: What the Data Tells Us” shed a light on employer data and perceptions relating to inclusion initiatives, as well as explored how recent events have impacted these practices.

“Organizations need to put more resources into their inclusion and diversity efforts and it is not the job of the Chief Diversity Officer alone,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and chief executive officer at the SHRM. “CHROs and general counsels have an important role to play.”

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