Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Panel: Corporate America’s Role and Allyship in Creating Economic Equity

Panel: Corporate America’s Role and Allyship in Creating Economic Equity

June 1, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Achieving equity requires walking the walk and holding organizations accountable based on data. 
  • Everyone can do their part to create inclusion, whether it’s individually or through roles in larger organizations. 
  • Being in a position to think about equity work means you’re not feeling the brunt of the inequities that exist. 

Following Camille Lloyd’s presentation of the results of the Detroit Resident Voices Survey at the 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference, she sat down with a panel to discuss how corporate America’s work connects with the survey data and solutions, how companies can measure their equity work, and the importance of allyship. 

Moderated by Stephen Henderson, Executive Advisor of BridgeDetroit and Host of Detroit Today and American Black Journal, the panel included: 

  • Cynthia Bowman, Chief Diversity, Inclusion, and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Bank of America 
  • Ron Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bridgewater Interiors 
  • Peter Quigley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kelly 

Business’ Role in Creating Economic Opportunity 

Bowman kickstarted the panel discussion, sharing how Bank of America feels, as a corporation, it plays a role in creating economic opportunity and addressing issues around racial equity in the communities it serves and for its own employees with the goal of “driving profit & purpose.” 

Bowman shared what this looks like is embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion in business reviews, talent reviews, performance management, and more. She also said they are big believers in accountability, representation, and inclusion, no matter your role at the company. 

“We want to look like the world we live in at every level, and that’s why you see a diverse board, leadership team,” said Bowman. “It’s not about just talking the talk around it and looking at the data. It’s about walking the walk and, specifically, implementing and holding ourselves accountable to drive progress.” 

Hall echoed Bowman, sharing how the team at Bridgewater Interiors is also extremely diverse. 

“From day one, it’s been a part of the company’s DNA to have strong representation at all ranks of the company to demonstrate that you could employ an inner-city workforce at the highest levels of manufacturing performance and deliver results to shareholders and stakeholders,” he said. 

Allyship in Equity Work 

As the only white male on the panel, Quigley pointed out the importance of non-minority voices in the conversation on racial and economic equity. Not to overtake the conversation, but because everyone has a stake in the issue. 

“If there’s anything that speaks to ‘the Power of &’ – I believe deeply that people who look like me and have position[s] like me need to not only be part of this conversation but be held accountable for the outcomes,” said Quigley. “It’s not only important for Detroit; it’s important for the Region; it’s important for this country, so we all have a stake.” 

Hall, Lloyd, and Bowman agreed with Quigley, each stating that that everyone can do their part to create inclusion, whether it’s individually within one’s own network or through our roles in larger groups and organizations. 

“I think Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.] was the one who said, ‘I not only hear the words of my enemies, but the silence of my friends,’” said Bowman. “I think it’s really important to understand that in this moment, particularly it’s super polarized, … but we each have a voice, we each have a responsibility, we each have a cause, and we can do our part to truly create inclusion for all.” 

Lloyd emphasized this, expanding that contemplating getting involved is a luxury and privilege. 

“When you think about the work around equity, if you’re in a position to do that, it means you’re not the one that is feeling the brunt of the inequities that exist in our society,” said Lloyd. 

This Mackinac Policy Conference session was sponsored by Consumers Energy.