Fighting Institutional Racism - Nate Miles
I was recently featured in King 5’s “Facing Race” series, episode 12 — Fighting Institutional Racism. In this episode, we examined ways to combat institutional racism through legislative action and changes to policies in the workforce.
Within weeks of George Floyd’s killing, we saw a lot of corporations coming out making statements in support of Black Lives Matter and against racism. Tell me what was significant about these statements.
I think what was significant is the fact that companies realized it was important to get on record that this topic was important to them, their employees, and their companies. They had something meaningful to say about how the African-American community meant something to them and how they wanted to extend their condolences. This was something companies wanted to do quickly at that moment.
Beyond those statements, companies have pledged to do everything from donating money to organizations that fight racism to hiring more diverse workforces. Have those actions been enough so far?
Some companies have made some actions and some have started taking action. I don’t think they have lived up to all of the pledges they have made — I think many made some pledges in the heat of the moment. The question a year from now will be regarding sustainability and it will be interesting to see how many of these companies do have more African-Americans on their boards and in the workforce and how many companies have partnered with African-American organizations. These are the things that can really make a difference in the life of a community. If they did these things a year from now, then you can say that this George Floyd movement was worth all it was cracked up to be. Otherwise, it is just empty rhetoric that was espoused at a time when the company needed something to say and it would have been a real missed opportunity.
What are your thoughts on companies that offer financial incentives — for example bonuses given to managers who are able to bring more diversity to their teams? Is that a way to close this gap?
Absolutely. I think that everyone should have that as one of the elements of their job description.
What do you say to those who say it’s controversial to offer incentives to hire more people of color?
It is no more controversial than saying you want a top-notch salesperson as opposed to an introverted salesperson. It is no more controversial to hire a person of color than it is to hire a disabled veteran. It is no more controversial than it is to hire more females into the workforce.
What reflects whether they’re actually making these institutional changes?
I think it’s the authenticity — are you going into communities; are you hiring interns; are you bringing in entry-level people who are going to be on the fast track to work themselves up; are you bringing in C-Suite people who are going to be able to impact policies that are made; are you putting people on your boards of directors who are going to set the policy for your company and how it operates? For instance, if you’re Amazon, are you going to locate a fulfillment center in an African-American community that you know has 18% unemployment, which is extremely high at this point? Many people think this is rocket science and ask how do we do this? It’s not rocket science. It’s basic community building. Companies should start from the position that you are not in the right place regardless of what you’ve done in the past regardless of the George Floyd movement. You have some work to do, especially in that community because of all the events that have taken place in the past.
You can watch the full episode here.
About Nate Miles: Nate is a visionary leader with expertise in transforming businesses. He has extensive experience with running boards, fundraising, strategic planning, and program development. Nate operates on his personal strategy ‘Total Engaged Teamwork.’ He strives to create unity and collaboration to close gaps that separate groups of people, ultimately hoping to better society and the organizations he is involved in. He currently serves as the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and State Government Affairs for Eli and Lilly Company and holds several board positions.
Nate Miles - Vice President of Strategic Initiatives - State Government Affairs - Eli Lilly and…
I'm a business professional with a knack for turning organizations around. I've led teams in the private and nonprofit…