Dow CEO Jim Fitterling on Supporting Opportunities for Black Talent

Originally published at corporate.dow.com. Dow ranked No. 19 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.

 

Last year, in a blog post, I committed to “act on behalf of those who deal with racism, bigotry, and the threat of violence every day simply because of the color of their skin starting with Team Dow.”

Since then, we announced an action plan. And we’ve made real progress. However, it’s worth reflecting on the final four words of my commitment: “starting with Team Dow.”

That was a commitment to examine the progress we’ve made in improving the diversity of our team and, if necessary, it may mean recommitting to further actions and improvements to help close the economic opportunity gap for Black talent in America.

As noted in our 2020 ESG Report Intersections, Black employees make up 8.8% of our U.S. employee population, which is up from 8.5% in 2019. But, according to the best-available estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the country’s population is 13.4% Black.

Clearly, we still have work to do.

To achieve our ambition and to make progress towards our purpose, we must do more — because closing the gap between our company and our objectives will require us to help close the Black community’s economic opportunity gap.

That’s why Dow has joined OneTen — a coalition of businesses that are coming together to upskill, hire and advance one million Black individuals in America over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. OneTen’s skills first approach will not only help to close the gap for Black talent but will level the playing field for all.

To better understand the importance of this organization and the opportunities this partnership will create for our company and community, I talked with two colleagues: John Sampson, our Senior Vice President, Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering; and Undrea Kennedy, one of our Global HR Partners.

 

As the leader of our largest function, and as we enter into a time where there is a war for talent, can you share what this partnership will mean for Operations, for our Company, and for our colleagues around the globe?

John Sampson, Senior Vice President, Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering, Dow: “This partnership reflects the fact that we are doubling down on our commitment in attracting a diverse talent pipeline and not just to help close the economic opportunity gap for Black talent in America, but also, to access and integrate diverse talent within our function. Operations makes up 57% of Dow and is a complex organization that thrives with diverse talent. We have hiring opportunities with competitive pay and benefits that help us attract diverse talent and foster a more creative, more innovative, and a more successful Dow. When we create an inclusive culture where each of us can bring more to Dow – more of ourselves, more of our voices, more of our ideas and more of our potential – we all win.”

 

Traditional hiring processes are highly subjective and can have multiple barriers that complicate access to economic opportunities for the Black community. Without being able to easily assess skills, implicit bias can shape the recruiting and hiring processes. What are some key areas this new partnership can help not only Dow, but all employers align the skills to the right talent?

Undrea Kennedy, Global HR Partner, Dow: “Many individuals in Black and brown communities have the necessary skills, knowledge, and competencies to be successful contributors at Dow and other companies. However, there are long-standing systemic issues that limit access and opportunities for people in these communities. Dow joining forces with OneTen will help remove the barriers while continuing to build relationships with community partners whose objectives mirror ours. I look forward to the opportunities this partnership will bring for my community and for Dow.”

 

The opportunity gap that we hope to help close through this partnership with OneTen began long ago due to hundreds of years of systemic oppression. But the opportunity to deliver a better, more sustainable future starts now. And it starts with ensuring our workforce reflects the stakeholders we serve — it starts with Team Dow.

 

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