HP Inc. – A Force to be Reckoned With: An Inside-look at Building a Lasting Racial Equality and Social Justice Task Force

by Savoy Staff

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By Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, HP Inc.

We’re at an inflection point. COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on the Black community and the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many other African Americans give us the drive to not only discuss systemic racism and inequalities in the workplace but also accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the board.

At HP, we have a history of advancing corporate diversity and economic justice. Our founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard embraced diversity not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it fuels innovation. DEI have always been fundamental to HP’s culture, leading us to bold initiatives like intentionally creating the most diverse board of directors in the U.S. technology sector that add value to our business and to society at large.

As systemic racism continues to plague our communities, we must step up. We adopted a listen-first approach because -speaking from personal experience – we knew our Black/African American colleagues were exhausted and emotionally spent. Their feedback inspired us to launch the HP Racial Equality and Social Justice Task Force with the vision to do our part to end systemic racism and inequality.

Our strategy involves identifying and executing on the biggest opportunities we have as a company to drive societal change, first in the U.S., then globally. The key areas where we could impact the greatest change are People, Industry and Local and National Policy.

For People, we will accelerate the strategies, practices and policies around pipeline, retention and promotion for Black/African American talent with leaders, managers and employees.

For Industry, we will leverage our industry leadership and spending power to influence our ecosystem, including our partners, vendors and suppliers.

For Local and National Policy, we will leverage our capabilities to advocate for Black/African Americans through public policy, civic action and clear corporate positions on local and national issues.

We developed bold and clear goals, both in the short term and long term, for each pillar. For instance, one of our commitments is to double the number of Black/African American executives by 2025 because driving progress from the top matters.

In order to reach our goals, we set up a top-to-bottom accountability system. We are building a regular cadence of reporting to our board of directors and our internal Global Diversity Advisory Board. We intentionally launched a web page, so the public can see our goals and track our progress. Our executive leadership team also made pledges and each member has management by objectives (MBOs) pertaining to diversity goals.

From there, we cascaded their pledges to everyone within their organizations because meeting these ambitious commitments requires, what I like to call, “Everyone In.” There is a role for everyone to play. As such, we brought employees on the journey with us. Today, almost 400 employees volunteer passionately on the Task Force, and collectively, we aim to turn our vision into reality.

Our world is facing mounting challenges today – a public health crisis, climate change, digital divide to name a few. Race remains a pivotal element in all those issues because communities of color are often hit the hardest. Blacks and Latinx are less likely than Whites to have a computer and broadband internet access at home, according to the Pew Research Center. The Science journal found that the nation’s poorest counties, made up of mostly people of color, will face the most economic harm from climate change.

Corporations today have a larger role to play in this new era. Customers want to support brands that operate not only in the service of shareholders, but also in the service of humanity. Businesses will be measured by the value they create for society and for the barriers they break for underserved communities and for all people. There’s a sense of urgency. The time for action is now.

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