The new business and racial justice report from Edelman shows that the level of progress being made on racial justice issues is not seen the same way by all of a company's employees, according to Amina Colter Jones, senior VP on Edelman’s Health and Multicultural teams.

"The gap is significant," Jones tells Doug Simon. "60 percent of executives felt that there has been progress, compared to 18 percent of associate or entry-level employees. I was surprised by that. It validates that there's work for us to do and there's an opportunity for us to really bridge that gap."

Key to getting those perspectives more in line with each other, she says, is "really bringing both parties together." Doing that takes "some acknowledgement of the work that needs to be done" as well as "really creating a safe space for employees to share how they're feeling."

It also requires making a solid commitment across the board to listening and learning, "bringing together the DEI leaders, the employee resource groups and DEI council members to talk about what commitments we've made as an organization."

Jones tells Simon that while the meaning of affirmative action is "often misunderstood," she sees it as being "about increasing opportunities for underrepresented communities across our society. It helps ensure that there's equal opportunity to seek out education and resources."

That misunderstanding, Jones says, makes education essential. "We have got to ensure that people truly understand what affirmative action is, the impact that it's had, and understand that there are other forms of affirmative action—like Legacy Admission."

The responsibility for change, Jones tells Simon, lies with both the C-suite and rank-and-file employees. "CEOs need to make the personal and professional commitment to inclusivity, but they can't do it alone. They have to have the right people and teams at all levels."'

Jones hopes that the big takeaway from the report for communications pros will be: "action earns trust. We want to make sure that as communicators we are partnering with our C-suite, we are partnering with our teams to build again, not just the commitments but the actions, the opportunity to drive impact, to create a culture of inclusivity."

Being seen as a company that is making significant moves to address racial justice issues is becoming increasingly important—especially when it comes to prospecive employees, Jones says. "Employees are coming asking, 'What are our numbers? What are we doing to address systemic racism?' So as employers, we want to make sure we're armed with the latest and greatest. We want our employees to really be the buzz, be able to share all the work that's happening."

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