The gravity and importance of serving as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s first Vice President of Racial Justice & Equity is not lost on me. During a time that beckons for real social progress in our companies and communities, the first 90 days of my new job saw our members drive significant legislative advocacy and launch major, multi-year diversity initiatives.
In September 2020, we stood as the only major business association in the state to support Assembly Bill (AB) 979. This new legislation requires publicly-traded companies with headquarters in California to increase the diversity of underrepresented minorities on their board of directors. We will continue to work with the state and our executives to help with the implementation timelines and look forward to partnering with board readiness organizations like the Latino Corporate Directors Association, Boule, Ascend, Out Leadership and more to support our member companies.
At the start of the year, we announced our first major diversity initiative, the multi-year, national 25×25 Pledge (pledge25x25.org). This is the most comprehensive business diversity initiative that I have seen to operationalize change and it reflects six months of continuous development, shaped by our Board of Directors and further developed via countless calls, emails, and meetings with our members. 25×25 brings our participating member companies together in shared commitments to increase representation and investment to support individuals from underrepresented groups. I am thankful for our member companies for taking this hugely important stance and supporting this impactful work.
On February 19, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group will host its first Diversity Forward Summit with spotlight speakers John Hope Bryant and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. Bringing together Silicon Valley and global executives, community leaders, and scholars from America’s top business schools, the inaugural event will feature exclusive virtual panels and conversations on centering racial equity across all industries.
We recognize that everyone operates in a different context, with various resources to advance this critical work. Understanding these elements, the Diversity Forward Summit on February 19 will bring several thinkers to the table. The newest Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) from Zoom, Silicon Valley Bank and Western Digital will share their priorities. On building the new business case for diversity, leading thinkers from Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Wharton will discuss how issues of inclusion and belonging impact the bottom line. In continuing the national discussion on Board Diversity and social impact, policymakers and advocates will provide actionable ways to ensure that corporate diversity initiatives are felt by communities.
The dimension of “change” is one that stirs attention, one that causes questions. For these natural reasons, I stress that this work needs to call everyone in to be part of the solution. As we continue to see ourselves in the middle of change and movement, I hope the Silicon Valley Leadership Group can amplify the good work of our member companies and in doing so catalyze a collective identity and voice for our members on issues of access and representation within and throughout the business community.
I hope to see you on February 19 to help us lead this conversation.
February 10, 2021