Eastman: Turning Rhetoric into Reality

by Savoy Staff

The unrest of 2020 leaves Eastman determined to ensure its workplaces, communities and society are better off.

By Perry Stuckey, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Eastman

In more ways than one, we will look back at 2020 as the year that rocked society to its core.

As the world has been confronted with a global pandemic, it has been hit hard by social unrest. The killing of George Floyd, yet another instance of injustice and systemic violence toward people of color, shook us all, inflaming the scars caused by centuries of racism and injustice. Perry Stuckey, Eastman Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, feels the strain — and feels a sense of determination too.

“Companies have an obligation to do things to create a sustainable environment, and that includes people,” says Stuckey. “Our aspirations are much higher now. We will lead through the lens of a moral compass, focused on eliminating unconscious bias and boosting inclusion and diversity.

“It’s time to turn rhetoric into reality,” he adds. “2020 has been a wake-up call for American corporations. There will be a cure for COVID-19, but there’s no vaccine for racism. You have to take a hard look at where you are, what you’ve been doing and what you need to do to leave your employees better off.”

Focusing on historically underrepresented or marginalized groups of people, Eastman Resource Groups (ERGs) have been a force for change, and Stuckey is proud of the progress they’ve helped the company achieve. But that’s just a beginning, and the company knows it must do more to promote equality.

Every individual has the right to be seen and heard and to be respected for who they are. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are core elements of Eastman’s corporate strategy. “We’re actively working to ensure that these values are part of daily life at all of our sites and for all 14,500 members of our global team,” says Stuckey.

In 2020, Eastman has set new sustainability goals, including definitive commitments to accelerate diversity, equity, racial representation and inclusion. By 2030, the company aspires to be a leader in their sector and will achieve gender parity in alignment with its commitment to Paradigm for Parity®. The company will track its progress through a scorecard that will be published externally.

“Our benchmark will be companies who are recognized as transformational leaders in this space,” Stuckey says. “Our Board of Directors and the entire executive team are committed to our transformation with DEI as one of our business imperatives.”

Eastman started with a focus on building more leadership development opportunities and a better culture of inclusion for women. That focus inspired the company to take a wider view of its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the work it still needs to do. “We need to do a better job of recruiting top talent among Black and Hispanic workers. We’re setting measurable goals, and we will do what is needed to reach them,” says Stuckey.

For Eastman, this is not just an ethical and moral decision — it’s also essential for long-term business success.

Inclusion and diversity are essential for Eastman to be an innovation leader for another 100 years. They believe when employees enjoy a workplace of inclusion, fairness and respect for all, success follows.

“Two years ago, women were the largest percentage of college graduates,” Stuckey says. “There are more women and people of color in the workplace, and if organizations don’t see that trend now, they’re not going to acquire the best talent. They’re going to be left behind as the transformational companies win in the marketplace of the future.”

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