By Cierra Mangal, Senior Marketing Manager

The events following the death of George Floyd have been overwhelming, to say the least. And now, more than ever, Corporate America has been challenged to show up and help foster change, equality, and justice for the marginalized like never before.

As a woman of color, I know first-hand how challenging these conversations can be. However, I also understand that the way toward a better and more equitable future starts with having hard conversations. As we look to make radical changes in our communities, let’s not forget to start with the workforce. Business owners and employees alike must ensure that black colleagues and stakeholders know that they are valued and supported.

That being said, there are a few ways Corporate America can use its platform, influence and expertise to foster change both now and for generations to come.

Make intentional efforts to ensure your workforce reflects the world in which we live and play. Racial and cultural diversity is a large part of the success of any organization or team. Having diverse perspectives and experiences not only strengthens a company, but according to recent studies, diversity is a key component to a company’s bottom line.

Review and reiterate your company’s mission, vision and values. A company’s values should motivate its team members, but if they’re not reflective of your entire workforce, it creates room for team members to feel disengaged and unrepresented. Think of how your work contributes to the conversations and initiatives in your communities. The realignment of your company’s mission, vision and values shows you are intentionally working toward a more inclusive and equitable workforce.

Support your minority team members, clients and stakeholders. In these challenging times, amid coronavirus and heightened social and racial injustice, it is easy for team members to become burned out. Show up for your colleagues, clients and stakeholders the same way you would for your friends. Offer a listening ear or consider a day of reprieve, like a corporate wellness day, to decrease your team members’ tension and stress.

Invest in the next generation. To advocate for change, investment in the next generation is vital. Offer fellowship and internship opportunities to high school and college students interested in your company’s work. Invite them to your office to shadow you and your team members for a day, providing a birds-eye view into Corporate America. Stay in touch with them and introduce them to your network to help expand future possibilities as they enter the workforce.  Additionally, work with your human resources team to develop career plans for your team members. Ensure they’re aware of the advancement opportunities available and develop a plan to help work toward those positions and projects.

We cannot be passive in our expression of what is right. Corporate America: this is your opportunity to stand up and make a difference. Start by taking an internal assessment of your workplace practices and the diversity of your team. It will be uncomfortable, but now is not the time to be silent, now is the time for a change.