Banker & Tradesman

Why the Critical Race Theory Fight Matters in the Business World

While CRT may seem like a minor issue for the business community, particularly in comparison to COVID-19, the country’s economic recovery, criminal justice reform and infrastructure, it is actually a cornerstone to achieving any form of equity in America. It is therefore critically important for the business community to understand.   

Unfortunately, many business leaders, like most Americans, may not know what CRT is, have never had any interaction with its scholarship and thus may never pick up an important tool for achieving racial reconciliation out of sheer ignorance.

Reworked

Get Reworked Podcast: How to take your diversity strategy from intention to impact

Corporate social responsibility gets thrown around a lot in business today. Organizations regularly tout the steps they take to make the world a better place and how they’re endeavoring to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

How much of that is real? In this episode of Get Reworked, Malia Lazu breaks it down for us. She’s a diversity and inclusion strategist, founder of consulting firm The Lazu Group, lecturer on innovation at MIT Sloan School of Management, and a former banker and community organizer. Suffice it to say, she sees the issue from many perspectives.

The New York Times

How public letters become companies’ favorite form of activism

The most important thing a letter does is publicly commit the individual or company to change, said Malia Lazu, a lecturer at M.I.T. Sloan School of Management and head of the Lazu Group consulting firm. A signed statement of a chief executive’s commitment to an issue, she said, “gives people who want to hold corporations accountable an I.O.U.”

The Boston Globe

Juneteenth and the meaning of Black Liberation in Boston

For myself, Black liberation can be defined as the self determination of Black people. Black liberation is unconditional love for blackness, a rejection of the white gaze. Liberation is to truly believe you have an equal chance in the world and that your history and experiences have true value. Liberation is a culmination of honoring the past, being healthy in the present and curious about the future.

Assata Shakur wrote, “Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It’s really working to create something beautiful.” Liberation is living these values. Frederick Douglass, for example, speaks of a moment while he was being beaten by a slave breaker and he realized he was bigger and stronger than the man with the whip. His reasonable response to defend himself led to his internal and eventual physical liberation.

GBH Encore

Celebrating Juneteenth in Boston

Next Saturday, millions of people across America, including right here in Boston, will celebrate Juneteenth, first celebrated on June 19th, 1865. 156 years ago, the enslaved people in Texas found out they were free — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The event, which first had the most meaning for the people of Texas, has now become an observance that recognizes the history but also embraces the broader issue of the meaning of freedom today. Nearly every state in the country now recognizes the holiday, and this year, many employers gave staffers the day off.

 

Guests:
Barry Gaither — director and curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists; special consultant for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Malia Lazu — lecturer at The MIT Sloan School of Management; former president of Epicenter Community
Napoleon Jones-Henderson — visual artist; early member of historic African-American artist collective AfriCOBRA

MIT Ideas Made to Matter

8 MIT Sloan Stories about building an inclusive innovation economy

An innovation economy sounds like a good thing. The combination of technology and entrepreneurship to spur economic growth should support everyone in a society.

Except that it doesn’t. Women and people of color are often excluded from participating in and reaping the benefits of the American innovation economy. Only 2.4% of venture capital in the U.S. goes to all-female founding teams and only 1% goes to Black entrepreneurs. And the promise of American equality is threatened by a system in which white economic privilege is accumulated through racial capitalism, redlining, and access to elite educational institutions.

MIT Inclusive Innovation Economy

Shifting Higher Education: Creating Inclusive Spaces in Elite Institutions

In relation to academy and elite institutions a comparative question came in from the audience between DE&I versus “a dedication to academic excellence.” Dereca was quick to jump in on this, speaking about there being a “mental block around diversity and inclusion.” Something she referred to as “diversity fatigue,” which in sum is needed acceptance that must happen within traditionally white elite institutions – both in academia and business, that the definition of excellence is changing.

“It’s not just about what students (or employees) have accomplished. It’s about the context of how some of these accomplishments have happened.”

MIT Expert Series

How Corporate America Can Advance Social Justice and Racial Equity

“Consumers and employees are no longer accepting brands that are irresponsible about social justice and race and LGBTQ status and women,” said Malia Lazu, lecturer in the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management group at MIT Sloan. “Companies need to realize that statements aren’t cutting it. They’re going to have to do more to satisfy consumers’ expectations.”

Fortune

Corporate America Don’t Be Late To The Barbecue

I’m seeing the evidence of intention,” said MIT Sloan Lecturer Malia Lazu during an online event this week about what corporate America can do to advance social justice. “The intention is there.”

However, as Lazu noted, actions are always stronger than words, and thus far, corporate America has done a lot of talking about Social Justice. The next step is to take some action.

Boston Magazine

100 Most Influential Bostonians

The former Berkshire Bank executive vice president was brought to the Sloan School to help make Boston’s innovation-economy community more inclusive.

That’s the kind of work she’s been doing pretty much her entire career, whether collaborating with singer Harry Belafonte to quell youth violence or expanding entrepreneurship opportunities in marginalized communities through her role as executive director of Future Boston Alliance.

MIT Expert Series

How Corporate America Can Advance  Social Justice and Racial Equity

On April 26 Malia Lazu, a Lecturer in the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management Group at the MIT Sloan School, discussed the role and responsibility of business to accelerate equity and inclusion in the wake of the historic protests following George Floyd’s murder.

Maureen White, Principal at Maureen White Consulting, proviced perspective on the legacy of this moment, and talked about the strategies that leaders use to create anti-racist and safe workplaces.

Banker and Tradesman

Black Lives Matter to Banks, But Not Banking

“Two weeks ago five of the nation’s largest banks did an about-face, asking shareholders to vote against proposals calling for third-party racial equity audits. Just a year ago, the CEOs of these banking giants were making big promises and pledging to support greater racial equity. They were responding to the moment – a horrible moment, in fact, as documented in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of video of a black man being lynched by a police officer, Derek Chauvin

KPFA | 94.1 | Hard Knock Radio

Corporate Responsibility & Voter Suppression.

“What we are seeing that there is a societal and #generationalshift happening…There is a shift and a real imperative for #corporations to get this right.”

Corporations of the World, Unite!

The internal contradictions of “woke capitalism” are a mixed blessing for the Democratic Party.

Malia Lazu, a lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, argued in an email that the public’s slow but steady shift to the left on racial and social issues is driving corporate decision-making: “Corporations understand consumers want to see their commitment to environmental and social issues.”

Lazu cited studies by Cone, a business consulting firm, “showing that 86 percent of Americans would support a brand aligned with their values and 75 percent would refuse to buy a product they saw as contrary to their beliefs.”

Lazu contends that “there is a generational shift in America toward increasing justice and collective responsibility” and that as a result, “institutions, including corporations, will make incremental change.”

Don’t do this job in fear of losing it

Kim Janey got advice from 2 Mayors of other cities. Here’s what they said.

In a virtual panel discussing the role municipal leaders play in creating inclusive and diverse innovation economies, hosted by MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Janey was given advice for her job from two of her contemporaries: mayors London Breed and Lori Lightfoot, of San Francisco and Chicago, respectively.

“You have a vision — and make sure that your team understands it, that they’re very focused on executing on your vision, and don’t let the critics throw you off,” Lightfoot told Janey. “The critics are everywhere.”

Boston Mayor joins panel

Discusses ‘creative innovation economy’

Startups owned by members of marginalized communities such as people of color and women, remain in need of capital and equitable help from government, according to a panel of mayors speaking at an MIT Sloan School of Management this week.

The panel of Black mayors included Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey in a conversation on how leaders are creating inclusive innovation economies.

Recap: A community conversation

Advancing our journey to an antiracist America

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Karen Holmes Ward, WCVB Director of Public Affairs and Host of Cityline; Jenee Osterheldt, Culture Columnist for The Boston Globe; and John Stauffer, Professor of English and African American Studies at Harvard University for “A Community Conversation: Allyship and the Massachusetts 54th Advancing Our Journey to an Antiracist America.”

The conversation was both an honoring of the legacy of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment and Col. Robert Gould Shaw along with a reflection on the cultural shifts that have been taking place in our country. This conversation was to move us toward a space of more equity and justice – defining what it means to be an ally or accomplice; and examining how art serves a specific purpose in this process of building an anti-racist society. 

MIT Sloan School of Managment

5 ways to close the tech industry’s race gap through education

How can technology and innovation become more inclusive? According to data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 83% of tech executives are white. Meanwhile, at Apple, 6% of the tech workforce last year was Black. At Google, just under one-quarter of interns were Black and Latinx, and 5.5% of new hires were Black.

Banker and Tradesman

It’s time to value women in the workforce

Three million women have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic, compared to 1.8 million men. In January alone, 275,000 women exited their jobs compared to 71,000 men, continuing this worrying large-scale exodus of women from the labor pool.

Many have begun speculating what this means for the economy and society. Vice President Kamala Harris has called it a national emergency and it is. Women create tremendous value for companies. Women in the workforce is not a nice-to-have, but rather is a must-have, for any company that values diverse thinking and experience – not to mention equality.  

2021 Event Recaps

Our collaborative events

2021 is still in its infancy stage, but is already presenting itself as a year of culture shifting conversations and change. 

If you are new to us as a Company, new to the conversation, or just interested in what we have been up to thus far, below is a full list of what has taken place. Stay tuned for the expansion and deepening of the conversation as we move through this year.

Financial Times

Employees step up pressure for corporate reform

Employees, inspired by investors, are increasingly calling for companies to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) problems.

The global pandemic, a divisive political environment and protests against racial injustice have highlighted workplace concerns, such as employee safety and diversity. Staff want employers to stand for certain values and will agitate when necessary, with many younger employees valuing purpose as well as pay.

Banker and Tradesman

Banks Can Leverage their Existing Infrastructure to Boost Equity

The median wealth of white families in America is 10 times higher than that of black families ($171,000 versus. $17,150) according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. This wealth gap is not an outcome based on the failures of an individual or their community failures – minority markets have $3.9 trillion of spending power – but rather an outcome of 400 years of systemic exclusion.

American Banker

Want diversity? Move beyond your closed network

Excuse or not, the challenges of finding diverse talent are a reflection of the segregated country. While the quest for diverse talent seems quixotic, it’s actually a critical goal that reflection and strategy can solve — if it’s understood why it’s hard in the first place.

Unfortunately, some leaders in the banking industry and others have incorrectly claimed that a lack of diversity was due to not having enough diverse candidates.

Banker and Tradesman

Diversity is Not a Cost Center

Corporate social responsibility. ESG (environment, social and governance) ratings. Make no mistake, corporate America has taken notice of changing consumer and investor expectations. And customers are no longer satisfied with companies that destroy the planet or exploit their employees and supply chain while remaining silent on social issues. Miscues on social issues have become a huge reputation risk for any company.

American Banker

How banks can lead positive change

The banking industry – and community banks in particular – can play a leading role in bringing about sustainable change that allows everyone to be part of economic equality and closes the racial wealth gap. Malia Lazu, Chief Experience and Culture Officer at Berkshire Bank, a true 21st century community bank, is committed to serving all members of its diverse communities with socially responsible banking. Through personal stories and case studies, Lazu will share how her keen understanding of structural inequity and truth-telling insights about race, class, generation and gender has literally transformed how organizations, and the people who lead them, do their work in the world.

American Banker

How banks can lead positive change

The banking industry – and community banks in particular – can play a leading role in bringing about sustainable change that allows everyone to be part of economic equality and closes the racial wealth gap. Malia Lazu, Chief Experience and Culture Officer at Berkshire Bank, a true 21st century community bank, is committed to serving all members of its diverse communities with socially responsible banking. Through personal stories and case studies, Lazu will share how her keen understanding of structural inequity and truth-telling insights about race, class, generation and gender has literally transformed how organizations, and the people who lead them, do their work in the world.

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