Some of the biggest and most-notable employers in Indianapolis have signed a pledge to accelerate progress on racial equity.
The coalition of corporate and civic organizations has launched the Indy Racial Equity Pledge, which aims to create a fairer and more inclusive business climate for the city of Indianapolis.
The inaugural group includes Eli Lilly and Co., Anthem, Inc., Citizens Energy Group, Cummins Inc., IU Health, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Roche Diagnostics, Salesforce, Indy Chamber, and the Business Equity for Indy Committee.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Tiffany Benjamin, senior director of corporate responsibility at Eli Lilly and Co., said right now is a moment of change for the community.
“It’s a critical inflection point. And there’s a lot of energy around the need for racial equity in our community. And what we saw is the business and the community came together and started talking about how we can make an impact, and how we can have meaningful change and meaningful action,” said Benjamin, who is also president of the Lilly Foundation Inc.
Benjamin says by signing the pledge, organizations commit to using their resources and influence to accelerate progress on racial equity in four key areas: health, prosperity, education, and criminal justice.
“Each of the partners is pledging action in the areas where they think they can be most focused initially,” explained Benjamin. “It doesn’t mean that’s all of what we’re we focused on, but those are the four core areas.”
Commitments can include financial investments, community initiatives, in-kind donations, advocacy, volunteerism, and internal diversity and inclusion efforts.
The organization says group and individual companies’ progress will be tracked and reported.
“By creating the Indy Racial Equity Pledge, we’re committing to action and accountability,” said Jeffrey Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Citizens Energy Group.
Harrison is serving as chair of the Business Equity for Indy Committee, which is a separate, but related project to the Indy Racial Equity Pledge.
The BEI Committee is focused on racial equity in business opportunities for people of color, including expanded hiring, promotion and leadership opportunities, expansion of minority-owned business enterprise participation and procurement, and addressing healthcare disparities for the area’s black population and other people of color.
“It’s critical that leading organizations across Central Indiana actively join the fight for racial equity, using their voice, influence and resources to create the change we want to see within our own organizations and within our communities,” said Harrison.
Corporate and civic organizations that sign the Indy Racial Equity Pledge commit to the following:
“We pledge to take meaningful action to address the issues of racial equity and justice in Central Indiana. As leaders in this community, we must hold one another accountable for creating short- and long-term change for African Americans. We pledge to share our progress toward the goal of a racially equitable community.”
Benjamin is encouraging other companies and organizations to take the pledge.
“We are hoping more companies, more businesses, more civic organizations will take the pledge and sign up. While we’ve got a great group now we’re going to grow and expand over the next several weeks.”
You can see each organization’s specific commitments by clicking here.
Benjamin explained what is driving this initiative.