Originally published on LinkedIn by Theodore(Ted) Colbert III, CEO, Boeing Global Services.
As Black History Month begins in the United States and Canada, we take time to recognize and celebrate the Black community’s rich culture, significant achievements and deep history — a commemoration even more timely as we continue to grapple with racial inequity in our world. During the month, we also honor the experiences of Black employees and how they have shaped and advanced our company and our world for the better.
At Boeing (No. 27 on the 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), our strength has always been our people – their resiliency, their innovations and their world-changing contributions. Black employees are a critical driver of our success and innovation. And this past year, our team members faced particularly difficult times: COVID-19 and its disproportionate effect on racial and ethnic minorities and impact on our industry; the brutal killing of George Floyd and too many Black lives far before and even after him; civil unrest; and our ongoing fight for Black lives and equality. At this critical moment, it is more important than ever to recognize the ongoing contributions of Boeing Black teammates.
As a Black American and the Enterprise Executive Sponsor of the Boeing Black Employees Association employee-led Business Resource Group, Black History Month is profoundly meaningful to me. I stand on the shoulders of generations who came before me: Employees like Walt Braithwaite, a Jamaican native who joined Boeing in 1966 and brought computer-aided design to the company, transforming the way airplanes are conceived and produced. And employees like Robert Leek and Chasity Watson, a father and daughter who have shaped our past and will guide our future. Robert, a 35-year engineer in our Space and Launch program, and Chasity, a manager in Global Talent Acquisition, have expanded access for future generations of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) graduates, making Boeing stronger, sharper and more competitive along the way.
Together, we are taking meaningful steps to counter the challenges we face and accelerate our equity efforts for our teammates and future generations. That includes a commitment to increase Black employee representation in the U.S. by 20% as part of our equity action plan. This quarter, we will share our diversity metrics for the first time in our history to hold ourselves accountable to improving. We continue to invest in our communities, creating partnerships with nonprofits and organizations dedicated to increasing access and addressing inequities in communities of color. Our Boeing Black Employees Association is also deepening our dialogue about the Black experience across the company and has recently created a council to support Black managers and foster professional development and networking.
Change often happens slower than we would like, but we are committed to creating a society where everyone is included, respected and supported—and where generations to come can continue building on our Black employees’ rich legacy. By celebrating our unique cultures, we can better understand one another and bridge the divides. Because everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and beyond.
The employee co-created graphic above is part of the Boeing Stores Stand United collection that honors the resiliency of the Tuskegee airman, how they inspired the T-7A Red Hawk and our team’s efforts to drive racial equity. Learn more about the collection here.