Baltimore Sun: Baltimore business leaders call for greater push against racial, social injustice

Calvin Butler, 66th Annual Meeting

By Lorraine Mirabella
May 18, 2021

Work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in Baltimore-area businesses must be more than a “side project,” the head of a regional business advocacy group told members May 18.

“That is why DEI efforts of the past have failed,” said Calvin Butler, chair of the Greater Baltimore Committee, during the group’s annual meeting. “It has been seen as only part of the work. I’m here to tell you, it is the work.”

Butler, CEO of Exelon Utilities, which includes BGE, and a senior executive vice president of the energy firm, had vowed when elected GBC chair last year to work to improve racial equity and inclusion at businesses in the region. Businesses have reexamined everything from diversity on their boards to hiring practices amid a reckoning on racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The GBC and many of its business members have taken steps in the past year to begin to close inequity gaps and engage more segments of the city and region, Butler said during the group’s second annual meeting to be held virtually since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.

The group has reshaped its mission to include a commitment to advocating and advancing racial equity and social justice, and incorporated those values into its programs, activities and policies, Butler said.

“We are making good on that goal,” of closing inequity gaps, he said. “We are not just thinking about it. We are not just talking the talk.”

Efforts by community and business leaders to embrace inclusiveness can be key to cities’ and towns’ competitiveness and survival, said Thomas L. Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and keynote speaker.

In recent months, GBC has been examining its governance structure to ensure broader diversity on its board, conducted an audit of its procurement and purchasing processes, hosted a program on the history of structural racism in America and held programs on how businesses can embrace inclusion, said Donald C. Fry, the GBC’s President and CEO.

The group is planning programs that will help solve systemic societal inequities, and “build more equitable and inclusive workplaces,” Fry said.

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Source: The Baltimore Sun

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