How can corporate America turn its pledges and promises on racial equity into tangible change? John Rice, CEO of nonprofit MLT, has a plan—a certification, actually.
CEOs and leading companies have said that Black Lives Matter in their statements, in their tweets and in their advertisements. In late October, the nonprofit Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) launched the MLT Black Equity at Work Certification to help companies pledge their commitment to racial equity once more, and loudly—only this time with their actions.
The Certification sets a rigorous, achievable standard for the traditionally nebulous topic of racial equity—providing a roadmap for employers who want to achieve Black equity in the workplace, and support Black equity in society. “The business leaders I hear from today genuinely want to make progress on creating equitable workplaces, they just don’t know how to do it,” says MLT’s CEO, John Rice. “Black Equity at Work mirrors how organizations plan and execute every other part of their core business, and every other aspect of ESG.”
The Certification, which has already been adopted by many leading companies including Amazon, Bain Capital and ViacomCBS, asks employers to commit to set measurable goals and develop plans to meet them in five core areas:
1. Having equitable Black representation at every level;
2. Ensuring compensation equity;
3. Creating an inclusive, anti-racist work environment;
4. Ensuring racially just business practices;
5. Making racial justice contributions and donations.
After employers submit that plan, they are eligible to become MLT Black Equity at Work Plan Approved. Becoming certified requires that employers demonstrate tangible progress in those core pillars; maintaining that Certification requires companies to follow through on the strategies they’ve submitted, and have their data and results reviewed by an independent third party. In 2021, MLT also plans to launch a separate certification for Latinx equity.
Mr. Rice founded the nonprofit in 2001, after a career that had seen him hold senior postings at the National Basketball Association and Disney. MLT has since advised more than 130 leading US companies on diversity, equity, and inclusion, while also propelling thousands of young Black, Latinx and Native American undergraduates to high-trajectory jobs, early career talent to top-tier business schools and mid-career professionals to senior leadership roles.
A month after the MLT Black Equity At Work Certification launched, Mr. Rice spoke with the Brunswick Social Value Review about its potential: “I believe it can help America’s employers shift from perpetuating the Black inequity problem to propelling the Black equity solution,” he said.