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Major Employers and Energy Consumers Urge Legislators to Maintain Virginia's Clean Energy and Transportation Ambitions

Ceres

As a new legislative session begins in Richmond and the Youngkin administration takes office, several major companies and institutions with operations in Virginia are urging state lawmakers to maintain and build upon the considerable progress made in recent years to confront the climate crisis. In  a letter to members of the Virginia General Assembly, companies  Hannon Armstrong, Lutron, Mars, Inc., Nestlé, Unilever, Workday,  and  Worthen Industries  and higher-ed institutions  Sweet Briar College, University of Lynchburg, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges,  and  Virginia Wesleyan University  thanked lawmakers for passing several key pieces of legislation in 2020 and 2021 designed to reduce pollution while growing a robust clean-energy economy and protecting Virginians from the effects of climate change. “In the coming years, we hope Virginia will continue to provide a hospitable environment for clean energy and transportation investments and, in turn, remain on track in its pursuit of a prosperous low-carbon economy,” the companies and institutions wrote in the letter. This letter follows years of advocacy from leading companies that have supported the Commonwealth’s efforts to reduce climate pollution across the economy, citing significant business benefits to clean energy and transportation policies, including lower energy costs, new in-state investments, and programs that will help them meet their own corporate climate goals. In 2020, several large companies, including  Akamai, Nestlé, Mars, IKEA, Kaiser Permanente, Schneider Electric, Unilever,  and  Worthen Industries,  championed  the landmark Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which established Virginia as a climate leader, pledging to effectively eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and source 100% of electricity from clean sources by 2050. In 2020, Virginia also joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a successful, multi-state cap-and-trade program in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that has helped participating states reduce carbon pollution while growing the region’s economy and investing in climate solutions. Nearly two dozen companies, institutions, and municipalities  celebrated  Virginia’s participation in the program, writing to thank former Gov. Ralph Northam and the General Assembly for joining. In 2021, companies such as  DHL, Lime, Lyft, and Uber   encouraged  Virginia lawmakers to build on the momentum of the VCEA by approving new clean car rules that require automakers in the state to sell cars with stronger emission standards than federal policy demands. “The climate crisis is both a business threat and an economic opportunity for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said  Anne Kelly, vice president of government relations at Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit that organized the letter. “Virginia has become a regional leader in efforts to cut carbon pollution while building out the clean-energy economy of the future, but there is still so much work to do to meet the state’s climate goals. Companies know this is no time for policymakers to slow down or backtrack, and that’s why they are urging the General Assembly to continue building on the Commonwealth’s climate accomplishments this legislative session.” “Sweet Briar College is deeply committed to the sustainable future for the Commonwealth and beyond, and supports the General Assembly’s effort with regards to climate change,” said  President Meredith Woo from Sweet Briar College, one of the higher institutions on the letter. Virginia legal experts say only the General Assembly can take action to withdraw from RGGI. To date, Virginia’s funds from the program have been used to expand low-income energy efficiency programs and address coastal flooding, which Gov. Glenn Youngkin has cited as a major climate challenge. About Ceres Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews. Media Contact:  Helen Booth-Tobin, booth-tobin@ceres.org, 617-247-0700 ext. 214 View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Ceres on 3blmedia.com

January 22, 2022 07:01 AM Eastern Standard Time

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The Path Toward Sustainable 6G

VMware

By: Colleen Josephson Sustainability has gotten a lot of press over the last year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a monumental report based on more than 14,000 scientific research papers that spells out exactly what will happen if humanity does not immediately get greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under control. The main message was that if we don’t start making rapid progress towards carbon neutrality, extreme weather, destruction of animal habitats, glacial melting and its corresponding rise in sea levels will dramatically accelerate. To that end, VMware is excited to help lead the Next G Alliance working group that focuses on sustainable next-generation mobile networks. The group is called Green G and is chaired by me (Colleen Josephson), Marie-Paule Odini of HP Enterprise, and Micaela Giuhat of Microsoft. Dozens of member companies (including VMware, which contributed a great deal of content) have been hard at work over the past year crafting the group’s first white paper, “ The Path Toward Sustainable 6G.” This post serves as a high-level overview of the paper’s key findings and recommended next steps. Dissecting the problem Tackling sustainability is a challenge that requires us to think beyond renewable energy. While energy consumption is an important aspect of sustainable practices, we also must consider things like land and water use, as well as recycling and sourcing of the materials used for electronics manufacturing. Emissions can be broken down into two categories — direct and indirect. Direct emissions come from onsite combustion, such as diesel backup-power generators. Indirect emissions arise from activities not directly controlled by the company, such as electricity purchased from a grid provider and the carbon footprint of purchased equipment or business travel. Indirect emissions often represent most of an organization’s total emissions. This means that companies — whether they are service providers, network or datacenter operators, or hardware manufacturers — need to think about sustainability in almost all aspects of their operations. Modern mobile networks are undergoing a transformation. As illustrated in Figure 1, a typical mobile network can be broken down into four main parts: End-user devices like smartphones and IoT devices The radio access network (RAN) The core network The datacenter network/cloud We are seeing more and more network functionality move away from specialized hardware and towards virtualization. The core network was the first to be virtualized, but it is rapidly spreading to other parts of the network like the RAN and edge. The trend is toward complete virtualization, with the core, RAN, and edge running on software like VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform. This means that the line between telecommunications/mobile networks and the information and communications technology (ICT) industry as a whole is becoming blurred. With more and more network functionality being moved into datacenters, their share of network energy consumption is projected to grow almost five-fold. So we must account for the footprint of the entire ICT industry, rather than focusing only on the historical definition of the telecommunications industry. The ICT industry has a crucial role to play in reducing GHG emissions. Telecommunications consumes 2%-3% of the global electricity supply, while the broader ICT industry currently consumes 5%-9%. While these numbers may sound small, the rapid growth in digitization could increase ICT power consumption to 20% by 2030. These projected increases in energy consumption are not driven by losses in efficiency. Rather, the driver for energy consumption will be the increased demand for data caused by our growing population and its seemingly limitless need for high speed. So despite the laudable increases in network efficiency to date, if we stagnate now, we’re headed for drastic increases in future emissions and power consumption. We must find new and innovative ways to reduce power consumption and transition to renewable energy sources. Steering the beam of innovation To make sustainable networks a reality, we need to evolve each part of the network. VMware is uniquely positioned to drive innovation in the RAN, edge, core, and datacenter. Even in 5G, many network elements can be virtualized through software components that are deployed in datacenters. Carriers are shifting from customized hardware solutions to software-enabled implementations on general-purpose hardware. More and more network functions are moving away from special-purpose hardware and being distributed across the datacenter, cloud, edge, and whatever may come next. This trend that is expected to continue in 6G. One benefit of software-defined networks is that they will enable a more rapid development cycle compared to traditional hardware-centric mobile networks. This will enable us to move faster when developing new energy-saving features, which will significantly lower the barriers to deployment. The white paper makes a number of recommendations for how we should direct our energy when designing 6G, including: Investing in innovation in green datacenters, virtualization, network-management techniques, and IoT energy consumption Making energy consumption a first-class metric when designing 6G and beyond, comparable in importance to how we view reliability and availability metrics in current networks. Accurate, high-fidelity, and real-time/near-real-time data on energy consumption will be essential for rapid prototyping, energy-efficiency innovation, and catching design errors. ICT as a sustainability enabler Data networks are the backbone of our modern economy. With so many other industries relying on ICT, we have a responsibility to minimize our own emissions for the sake of our customers’ indirect emissions. Beyond that obvious conclusion, ICT can also enable sustainability in other industries in more innovative ways. Networks of environmental sensors, for example, allow us to manage our resource consumption like never before. Projects like the 5G Open Innovation Lab explore how we can leverage sensor networks to monitor things like soil moisture to reduce agricultural water consumption. When it comes to remote work, implementing solutions such as videoconferencing and telepresence solutions (like AR/VR) can help reduce carbon emissions associated with business travel. The pandemic has become a digital tipping point. Nearly 60% of office workers foresee a permanent increase in online meetings with customers, suppliers, and colleagues. These changes require tools that better support remote interaction. Other areas to focus ICT research and innovation will be smart grids, grid-interactive datacenters, and micro-grids, where devices can share and trade low levels of energy to prevent the need for batteries. The bottom line is that the potential impact of ICT as a sustainability enabler is substantial. Some sources estimate that the ICT industry will prevent emissions at a rate of 10x its own footprint by 2030. What’s next? VMware takes environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) very seriously. Driven by our 2030 Agenda, we are already making progress on a number of the recommendations outlined in the white paper. But we recognize that we must continue to push the envelope. We cannot rest on our accomplishments (although we are proud to be invited to the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, or DJSI, for the second year in a row!). That’s why we’re doubling down on our commitment to sustainability and accelerating sustainable innovation in 2022 and beyond. Sustainability is a big challenge — but also a big opportunity. We are excited to lead the charge toward a more sustainable future. Check out the full white paper here to get more detail about the path to sustainable 6G. The Green G working group will be organizing a webinar in the coming weeks to discuss the paper’s findings. There are several additional white papers in progress that will delve more deeply into topics in sustainable mobile networks, as well, so stay tuned! Click here to view the original content. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from VMware on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 09:25 PM Eastern Standard Time

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Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach Shares Insights for Davos Agenda

The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

Mastercard CEO  Michael Miebach  shares insights from our work in Africa to empower everyone, everywhere for a brighter digital future. Read more via World Economic Forum:  https://bit.ly/3FTLGRw The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth focuses on promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. As an independent Mastercard subsidiary, it combines data, expertise and technology with philanthropic investments to empower a community of thinkers, leaders and innovators on the frontlines of inclusive growth.  Follow us on Twitter @CNTR4growth  and  subscribe  to receive our latest insights.     Check out more content from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 05:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

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The Cost of Delaying Action on Climate Change

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)

By Ralph Izzo The transition to a decarbonized economy – whether we’re talking about deploying renewable energy resources, electrification of transportation, or R&D into grid-scale battery storage and carbon-capture technologies – is typically met with the same questions: How much will it cost? And where will we find the money? For a challenge as far reaching as climate change, that’s a reasonable question. We should be striving for equitable, affordable solutions that leave no one behind. The costliest impacts of climate change, in both lives and property, are growing worse by the year. At a time when many households are stretched financially, we should maintain our focus on affordability. However, we must also remember that, while there is a price tag attached to our clean energy transition, the cost of failing to act will be even higher. According to new data from NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 2021 was the sixth-warmest year in 142 years of recorded history. Last year also featured the second-highest number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters on record in the Lower 48 states, according to NOAA’s new report. That’s not a coincidence. Extreme weather events affect the lives and health of millions of Americans, destroy homes and property and disrupt economies – providing evidence of the rising costs of dealing with global warming with every passing year. What’s more, as extreme weather events grow more frequent, more dangerous and more expensive to recover from, it is increasingly clear that the cost of addressing the causes of climate change, as well as the health and environmental impacts that are already here, ultimately will still be cheaper than the cost of doing nothing at all. Take one example: The House-approved version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan contains $555 billion in spending proposals for climate and clean energy efforts over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the estimated cost of 2021’s extreme weather events is upward of $145 billion and nearly 700 lives lost. And that’s just one year. The largest event of 2021 was Hurricane Ida, whose powerful winds and record flooding were supercharged by climate change – with damage estimated at $75 billion. Unfortunately, the greenhouse gas emissions that trap the sun’s energy and cause global warming are moving in the wrong direction. After global emissions dropped in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide electric demand grew 6% in 2021, leading to an increase in GHG emissions, as well as the biggest jumps in more than a decade. U.S. emissions rose at a similar rate, driven by a surge in coal use brought on by rising natural gas prices. That raises another important point: America’s recent emissions reduction successes have been largely the result of the economics – abundant natural gas that costs less than coal – and are NOT related to actual environmental or carbon-reduction policies. Last year’s rising emissions proved this point. Once the economics of gas became unfavorable, power producers turned to cheaper coal, driving emissions back up. That should bring greater focus on the need to recognize the economic impacts of carbon emissions, whether through a price on carbon or tax incentives for carbon-free energy sources. Without the economic systems or policies in place driving toward a goal, such as a carbon pricing mechanism driving toward net-zero emissions, U.S. emissions can be influenced by factors as simple as an uptick in the price of gas. This is just one of several viable solutions to help us act on climate change today. Climate change is here and it’s one of the most daunting challenges we face. From wildfires to extreme temperatures to record-setting floods, climate change already is costing us a tremendous amount. Addressing the human activities that are causing it comes with a cost, too. But extreme weather events will force us to divert billions of dollars from critical climate change efforts every year – impeding our ability to reach our global carbon-reduction goals and avoid ever-worsening impacts of our changing climate. Addressing climate change will be expensive – but not nearly as expensive as delay. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 04:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

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CNH Industrial Named a “Green Master” for Eighth Year in a Row

CNH Industrial

January 21, 2022 /3BL Media/ - For the eighth consecutive year, CNH Industrial has been named a “Green Master” by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council (WSBC) for its outstanding sustainability efforts. This points-based recognition program and assessment is for Wisconsin businesses of all sizes and industries that are committed to sustainable business practices. "The Green Masters is a tool for businesses to assess and grow their sustainability actions, to benchmark against others in their industry, and to receive a third-party credential recognizing their sustainability achievements," says WSBC's managing director, Jessy Servi Ortiz. To receive the honor, companies must complete a detailed questionnaire on nine pillars including energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste management, transportation, supply chain, communication and educational outreach, workforce, and governance and earn a score that puts them within the top 20 percent of applicants. CNH Industrial was recognized as a Green Master during the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council’s annual conference in December. This local honor, along with other prestigious global recognitions CNH Industrial received in 2021, are proof of CNH Industrial’s strong commitment to sustainability progress. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from CNH Industrial on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 04:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

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Sappi North America's Ultracast Viva® Wins Awards for Sustainable Innovation

Sappi North America

January 21, 2022 /3BL Media/ - Sappi North America, Inc., a leading producer and supplier of diversified paper, packaging products and pulp, has been named a 2021 SEAL Sustainable Product Award winner for its Ultracast Viva® casting and release paper. Ultracast Viva was also selected by the International Design Awards Jury for an Honorable Mention for textile design. Ultracast Viva  is the new standard for high-fidelity casting and release papers, offering compatibility with solvent-free casting systems, serving as the mold for coated fabrics by transferring texture and gloss to create authentically pleasing synthetic leathers and other coated materials. The textured surfaces are then used for end products people use every day, such as shoes, car seats, handbags, apparel and more. After use, the release paper is stripped away and can be reused multiple times. The SEAL Awards celebrate the companies and leaders across the globe that make measurable contributions to sustainability and develop innovative initiatives that will positively impact the environment for centuries to come. The International Design Awards recognize, celebrate and promote exceptional design visionaries and discover emerging talent in architecture, interior, product, graphic and fashion design worldwide. "Sustainability and innovation are what drives Sappi North America, and it is the inspiration for each of our products," said Mark Hittie, Director, Release Business Strategy, Sappi North America. "We launched Ultracast Viva with a commitment to environmentally-friendly manufacturing to help our customers reduce their own environmental footprint. We're thrilled that it is getting the recognition it deserves as the first high-fidelity textured release paper line compatible with solvent-free systems, and we look forward to the progress this innovative and technologically advanced release paper will spur." Ultracast Viva is a first-of-its-kind product that sets the standard for sustainable casting and is designed for companies dedicated to using sustainable alternatives when creating high-quality coated fabrics and textured materials. Ultracast Viva was developed proactively to align with the  Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Program, and it answers a long-standing call for  a release paper that enables production via solvent-free manufacturing systems. To see the full list of 2021 SEAL Sustainable Product Award winners, please visit:  sealawards.com. To see the full list of 2021 IDA winners, please visit:  idesignawards.com   To learn more about Sappi North America's sustainability efforts, please visit:  sappi.com.  About Sappi North America, Inc.  Sappi North America, Inc., headquartered in Boston, is a market leader in converting wood fiber into superior products that customers demand worldwide. The success of our three diversified businesses – high-quality graphic papers, pulp and packaging and speciality papers – is driven by strong customer relationships, best-in-class people and advantaged assets, products and services. Our high-quality graphic papers, including McCoy, Opus, Somerse, and Flo, are the key platform for premium magazines, catalogs, books, direct mail and high-end print advertising. We are a leading manufacturer of dissolving pulp with our Verve brand, a sustainable fiber, which is used in a wide range of products, including textile fibers and household goods. We deliver sustainable packaging and specialty papers for luxury packaging and folding carton applications with our single-ply packaging brands, Spectro and Proto, and for the food and label industries with our specialty papers, LusterPrint and LusterCote. We are also one of the world's leading suppliers of casting and release papers with our Ultracast, PolyEx and Classics lines for the automotive, fashion and engineered films industries. Customers rely on Sappi for high technical, operational and market expertise; products and services delivered with consistently high quality and reliability; and state-of-the-art and cost-competitive assets and innovative spirit.  Sappi North America, Inc. is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Sappi Limited (JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with more than 12,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 150 countries.  About The SEAL Awards SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement & Leadership) Awards is an environmental advocacy organization that honors leadership through our  business sustainability awards  &  environmental journalism awards  while funding research and pursuing our own environmental impact campaigns. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Sappi North America on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 03:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

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What the Financial Industry Is Asking About ESG Reporting

Workiva

By Bryce Wagner & Mark Mellen Though banks and lenders have been watching environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues for years, the demands to publicly report on their ESG performance are growing. Seven in 10 individual investors believe organizations have a responsibility to demonstrate ESG performance, and they want companies to use data to help them judge ESG efforts, according to a recent survey commissioned by Workiva, the business reporting platform. At KPMG, consultants have noticed a few trends influencing how financial institutions have been advancing their ESG reporting processes and what questions remain to be resolved. Common ESG reporting challenges for banks Today, reporting on ESG performance—as well as how a lender evaluates ESG risk and creates ESG-related products—is often managed manually across many teams. At KPMG and Workiva, clients have told us they want to efficiently collect data to respond to different ESG frameworks and maintain consistent disclosures, without creating too much duplicative work for internal data providers. A big trend we're starting to see is companies trying to find ways to make those processes more efficient, to increase the confidence in the information they're using. We are seeing more companies start to: Centralize ESG data collection Create data dictionaries as a first step in data governance Use reporting technology, such as ESG data collection software or data management software, to automatically collect data from disparate sources like general ledgers, human capital management (HCM) systems, enterprise risk management (ERM) systems, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. ESG ownership ESG reporting is still evolving, even for lenders that have created corporate social responsibility and sustainability reports for years. A consensus has not yet emerged of who should own ESG reporting. It could be anyone from SEC reporting teams, corporate communications, investor relations, legal, or human resources teams. Sometimes a cross-functional committee oversees the report. A few members of the financial industry have said if stakeholders expect the same rigor and reliability from ESG data as they do from financial data reported to the SEC, finance teams that produce SEC filings may end up owning ESG reporting as well. As for who owns ESG data, companies are trying different models. In a distributed model, data ownership is spread across the organization. That way, subject matter experts can own and develop the data specific to their areas, whether it’s within human resources, research, or board governance, for example. Similar to Sarbanes-Oxley processes (SOX) or a Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR), a SOX compliance or CCAR team might own documentation, but subject matter experts might maintain documentation for the underlying data that’s part of their practice. Climate disclosure regulations Michael Scarpa, Managing Director in the KPMG Regulatory Risk practice, notes many recent actions financial regulators have taken on ESG matters. In the U.S.: The Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing a proposed mandate for climate risk disclosures The Federal Insurance Office is seeking comments on how it can collect data to help stakeholders assess climate risk in the insurance sector The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency this year appointed a Climate Change Risk Officer to help develop and adopt climate risk management practices at banks The Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also have focused on ESG, including social impacts of providing fair access to mortgages and financing The United Kingdom is working toward mandatory climate-related disclosures by 2025. This year the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) proposed climate-related financial disclosure rules for asset managers, life insurers, and FCA-regulated pension providers. Meanwhile, businesses and investors are hopeful the creation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) will start to simplify the worldwide landscape of ESG standards. "Our clients are taking a very slow, incremental approach,” Michael said. "They're looking for practical ways to infuse ESG thinking into their risk management, specifically focusing on evaluating the customer base for ESG risks, and potentially also evaluating vendors and third parties to see where they stand with regard to ESG goals." Sharing ideas As ESG reporting evolves, teams can share ideas with peers at upcoming events hosted by KPMG and Workiva. Check out the Workiva calendar of events and webinars for more. Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities. Click here to see how Workiva and KPMG deliver integrated risk management and compliance. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Workiva on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 01:40 PM Eastern Standard Time

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Stitch Fix and Venus Williams Tackle “Gymtimidation”

Porter Novelli

As a new year kicks off, many people take this as a time to set personal health goals and hit the gym. But for many women, especially millennials and new moms, getting back to their fitness routines can be intimidating. Today we explore how one company is emboldening women to be more confident and comfortable in achieving their wellness ambitions. Continue reading the full insight here. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Porter Novelli on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 01:30 PM Eastern Standard Time

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A Look at Racial Equity This Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Regions Bank

By Taleisha Ming-White | January 14, 2022 It was 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In the summer of 2020, when George Floyd was killed, we all were affected. In the days following Floyd’s death, demonstrations across the U.S. took center stage in a way that forced our country into necessary and far-too-delayed conversations about racism and racial equity. These are productive conversations that should continue. But we also need more action. In 2020, we saw many corporations rise to the calling along with their employees. That fall,  CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, a coalition of 1,300-plus CEOs, of which Regions’ president and CEO John Turner is a signatory,  committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, by launching the  CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellowship  with a specific focus on advancing social justice through public policy. The fellowship is focused on dismantling systemic racism that has deeply impacted the 47 million Black Americans in this country – building on the foundation laid by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others committed to creating a more equitable and just society. Over the last 15 months,  I have had the privilege of  representing Regions Bank as a fellow  (the only one in the state of Alabama) and working alongside more than 250 individuals from over 100 companies. In our quest to better understand racial equity and where gaps exist, we started by pinpointing areas where data shows there are different outcomes based on race. From there, we identified barriers and challenges at a systemic level that can be addressed through public policies and corporate engagement. Based on those findings, we built partnerships with community organizations and community, education and thought leaders from around the country to focus on  12 priorities  across four key areas where racial equity is a persistent challenge: public safety, education, economic empowerment and health care. I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a team that is focused on  advancing the collaboration between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and corporations. As a proud HBCU graduate (go Tuskegee Golden Tigers), this initiative has been especially impactful for me. HBCUs play an important role in creating racial equity by focusing on the needs of their students (many of which are first generation college students) and providing the tools and guidance necessary for them to succeed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in fact, was also an HBCU graduate of Morehouse College in 1948. Despite a long history of funding and resource challenges, HBCUs enroll 10% of all African American students, are responsible for 22% of all African American Bachelor degrees, contribute approximately $15 billion annually in gross domestic product and generate approximately 135,000 jobs for their local and regional economies. As an HBCU graduate and HR professional, I’ve seen firsthand the value HBCUs and the students they serve bring to organizations and to the community as a whole. The private sector, including Regions, is playing an important role in  strengthening HBCUs, and enabling them to fulfill their missions. Through collaboration, the business community has the opportunity to continue advancing racial equity as an ally and advocate for HBCUs. The CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship is facilitating this process by encouraging CEO Action member companies to connect with HBCUs and identifying areas where the corporate community can support HBCUs in a holistic and sustainable way. Examples include investments, efforts to connect HBCU students with employers; through advocacy, and leveraging the strength and reach of the corporate community. The work of CEO Action draws its strength from the energy, ingenuity and commitment of the individuals – fellows, supporters, staff and volunteers who are each playing a role. But you don’t need to be part of a coalition or have a fancy title to make a difference. As individuals we each can create equity through our words and actions. The best way to honor Dr. King on this day and the days to come, is for both organizations and individuals to continue doing the work. The hard work. The necessary work. There were many in the background supporting Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement in their own ways. The most important thing was that they wanted to contribute to the work and that they did. May we honor Dr. King’s life and legacy by truly putting people first so that our “garment of destiny” is one that we can wear with pride, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and beyond. Taleisha Ming-White serves as the Learning and Development Organizational and Leadership Development Business Partner for Regions Bank.She has represented Regions as a CEO Action for Racial Equity fellow since 2020. Ming-White is a graduate of Tuskegee University. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Regions Bank on 3blmedia.com

January 21, 2022 01:15 PM Eastern Standard Time

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