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One Houston Together

While the issues of racial inequity and systemic racism are not unique to Houston, we have an opportunity as Houstonians to lead the way in reforming broken systems, partnering with communities, offering support and removing barriers. We often speak with pride of Houston being "America’s most diverse city." Now we must work to make Houston "America’s most inclusive and open city", one that does truly offer "opportunity for all." The Partnership and the 1,100 member companies and institutions we represent are committed to this endeavor.

Racial Equity Principles

The Partnership’s Racial Equity Principles are a framework to communicate the Houston business community’s pledge to reforming systems of bias, strengthening underserved communities, advocating inclusion, and removing barriers to achievement. Although many businesses have made their own individual statements and pledges, this unified approach sends an important signal about the Houston business community’s collective commitment. The Principles articulate how the Partnership and individual businesses can commit to advancing racial equity within their organizations and throughout our community.

One Houston Together Webinar Series

As part of the effort to build a shared understanding around these issues, the Partnership hosted a webinar series in September 2020 to educate our members and the broader community on racism and systemic inequities. These sessions did not focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but rather on racism at its most fundamental core — how it exists in us as individuals, in our relationships, our organizations and our systems. Topics included Health and Racial Inequities, Understanding Racism, Developing Equitable Communities and more.

The goal of the series was to foster a desire within participants to embark on their own personal learning journeys and apply that knowledge to their lives and work. We encourage you to watch the recordings of these sessions. 

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Understanding Racism

Defining and understanding systemic and individual racism.

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Education and Racial Inequities

How does race affect the educational opportunities afforded to ...

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Health and Racial Inequities

A look at why race-based disparities remain in outcomes, access...

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Developing Equitable Communities

Today, a person’s zip code remains one of the best indicators...

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The Business Community's Role in Addressing Racial Inequitie...

What can individual companies and the broader corporate communi...

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Houston Demographics

Greater Houston Basic Demographics

A look at the Houston population by race, ethnicity, age, educa...

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Urban Disparity

The Kinder Institute examines gaps in income, educational attai...

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Understanding Houston

Understanding Houston aggregates data across multiple sources t...

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Racial Equity Committee

The Partnership has created a new board committee that will guide the organization's actions to address racial equity and racial justice issues in Houston. The mission of the Racial Equity Committee is to harness the collective commitment and resources of Houston’s businesses and institutions to advance bold solutions to strengthen Houston as the most diverse, inclusive and equitable city in the United States.

This committee will operate at the level of our two other “board-member only” direction-setting committees, the Public Policy Steering and Economic Development Steering committees. The new committee will be co-chaired by Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University, and Gretchen Watkins, President of Shell Oil Co. Click the link below for the full roster of committee members.

Greater Houston Population Growth and Change

The October 2019 edition of the Partnership's Houston Economy at a Glance looks at the most recent demographic data for the Houston region, including race and ethnicity, foreign-born residents, age and more. 

Talent Resources Group

Launched in 2019, the Partnership's Talent Resources Group (TRG) provides HR professionals, ERG leaders and recruiters with access to information to grow their companies most important resource: talent. Topics address talent attraction and retention, diversity and inclusion, enhancing corporate culture and more. The group's largest annual event is the Houston NEXT ERG Summit. 

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Upcoming Event

Houston NEXT: An ERG Summit

Bringing together D&I, HR leaders and Talent Attraction professionals, this event explores how Houston must take a leadership role in addressing diversity, equality, inclusion and justice for our region and workplaces.

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Guiding Internal Conversations About Racial Inequity, Injustice with Employees

In the weeks following George Floyd's death and protests in response, businesses across the country have made public statements against racism, injustice and racial inequity. Some pledged money toward social justice efforts. Other organizations are honoring Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery, as an annual holiday. Many business leaders are also bringing the national conversation to their staff to address these issues within their organization.  

Suggested Reading and Listening

The Partnership staff have compiled this short list of suggested books, podcasts and other resources that provide insight on these complex issues.

Additional Resources

Read studies and recommendations on addressing these important issues and learn what other organizations are doing to combat systemic racism and bias. 

This report from Deloitte offers practical ideas for leaders and organizations to take action. 

This report from McKinsey & Co. examines the widening racial wealth gap that disadvantages black families, individuals, and communities and limits black citizens’ economic power and prospects.

The Urban Institute examines how structural racism continues to disproportionately segregate communities of color from access to opportunity and upward mobility by making it more difficult for these populations to secure quality education, jobs, housing, healthcare, and equal treatment in the criminal justice system.

Driven by data and informed by conversations with business, government, academic, and civic leaders, the U.S. Chamber developed an initial Equality of Opportunity Agenda to advance private sector solutions and best practices, scale impactful programs, and drive policy action at the federal, state, and local level. 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives provides resources and guidance for chambers working to address inequity within their communities. 

The International Economic Development Council provides resources, tools and reports around racial equity and equality. 

 

The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from leading U.S. companies, offers information around racial justice including data, CEO perspectives and other resources.  

Related News

Living In Houston

50/50 Park Partners Begin Revitalizing Neighborhood Parks Across Houston

1/19/21
50/50 Park Partners this week announced recent construction updates for the initiative as well as new corporate sponsors.  Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner created 50/50 Park Partners, bringing together a city-wide coalition to help revitalize the city’s neighborhood parks. The Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Parks Board and Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) are working together to draw local companies and community organizations into the important initiative.  Local Businesses Announce Their Support  The 50/50 Park Partners framework provides an opportunity for corporations to play a leadership role in supporting and reinvigorating under-resourced neighborhood parks in their local communities. Project funds will be invested based on priorities of need and distributed citywide across the identified neighborhood parks operated by HPARD. Perry Homes recently announced their commitment to being the program’s Pacesetter with a gift of $1 million. “I want to thank all of our corporate sponsors for joining the 50/50 Park Partners initiative as we transform 50 neighborhood parks across Houston,” said Mayor Turner. “2020 reinforced the importance of parks in healthy, vibrant communities. I am proud to see our city come together to bring long-term improvements to our beloved neighborhood parks.” Other 50/50 Park Partners include Chevron, Valero Energy Foundation, Community Health Choice, Crown Castle, and H-E-B. These Park Partners will each provide funding and in-kind volunteer services, which in turn will improve and steward community parks. Hartman Park Construction Updates  Construction has officially started on Hartman Park, the first neighborhood park to receive improvements and long-term support as part of the 50/50 initiative. Updates to the park include the redevelopment of the playground area, including colorful playground units for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, with multiple swings and spinners and new playground resurfacing. The park improvements will also include new ramps and walkways, new benches, a new bike rack and the required detention and drainage. 50/50 Park Partners has also begun hosting community listening sessions on 11 neighborhood parks. As community engagement is a guiding principle of the initiative, these sessions are an opportunity for nearby neighborhoods to provide input on potential projects and work with Park Partners to prioritize funding. Feedback gathered during individual sessions will be used to inform the park improvement plan. Learn more about the 50/50 Parks Partners here.  Learn more about living in Houston and Houston’s green spaces. 
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Education

Rebooting Community Colleges to Get Americans Back to Work

12/15/20
In the early 1980s, roughly two thirds of American jobs were open to individuals with only a high school diploma; by 2019, two thirds of American jobs require more education beyond high school, according to the Washington, D.C.-based think tank and policy shop Opportunity America. Many jobs now require more education and skills than a high school diploma but not a four-year college degree. What’s more, as the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated layoffs and accelerated the pace of digitalization of the workplace, it sharply increased the need for immediate upskilling of American workers to re-enter or remain in the workforce. The nation’s 1,100 two-year community and technical colleges can be where traditional students gain the knowledge, skills and credentials they need to start careers and where non-traditional students learn new skills to maintain or improve their career prospects. But is a reboot necessary in order for them to better serve their students? Community colleges across the nation have long held a number of primary missions: Graduate students who transfer to four-year colleges or universities (the credit side); graduate students with applied technical degrees and certificates (the credit side); and provide individuals with short-term job-focused upskilling to get them to a better job (the non-credit side). Many strive to fulfill these missions and there is room to align and improve the workforce outcomes of their students regardless of their pathway. According to Opportunity America data, close to 12 million students were enrolled in community colleges before the pandemic, with close to half enrolled in credit programs. Roughly 77 percent of students who enroll in credit courses expect to attain a bachelor’s degree but only 13 percent do. This summer, Opportunity America released a report calling upon community colleges to reboot and place workforce education more at the center of their mission and culture and embrace their role as the nation’s premier provider of job-focused education and training. The report, “The Indispensable Institution – Reimagining Community College,” outlines the important role of community colleges can play in helping individuals adapt to the changes in the economy and upskill themselves in order to get back to work. Americans at all education levels will need to develop new skills and build on existing ones as they adjust to changes due to the greater use of technology in their workplaces or re-enter the workforce because of the COVID-19-driven shock to the labor market and economy. In early December, Tamar Jacoby, president of Opportunity America, discussed how community colleges can live up to their promise of workforce education with Partnership Senior Vice President of Workforce Development Peter Beard during an UpSkill Works forum. Jacoby highlighted the need for many community colleges to improve the workforce outcomes of their students by building better bridges between the credit division and the non-credit division of schools. This approach could help keep students looking for a job in the short-term from retaking courses or relearning skills if they want to return for a degree later in life. It can also help students who seek a bachelor’s degree prepare to enter the workforce. Jacoby also illuminated ways in which some community colleges could improve their offerings and programs, and with them, workforce outcomes, for non-credit students. Employers and educators need to build meaningful partnerships with deep engagement. The non-credit divisions of community colleges can be nimbler and more responsive to the labor market and employer needs because the programs are designed with specific workforce outcomes in mind. Jacoby shared that the “secret sauce” is labor alignment, and programs cannot be aligned with employer needs without employer engagement. “You can’t do job-focused education without the people who know the jobs. That is like a manufacturer creating a machine part without knowing […] the specs for the rest of the machine,” Jacoby said. Employers and educators share responsibility for effectively communicating with each other since both sides speak in different languages, come from different cultures and have different senses of time, she said. This year, the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee took on the charge of examining existing innovative programs that assist non-traditional students in completing a degree or credential and considering methods the state could use to partner with higher education institutions to expand successful programs. The development of San Jacinto College’s LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Engineering, and Technology Center, which opened in the fall of 2019, is one example of a Houston-area community college designing a program with significant input and guidance from employers to meet industry workforce needs and standards. Employers need to explain their needs to faculty but also to guidance and career counselors. Jacoby encouraged employers to lend employees to educational institutions to serve as counselors to help students navigate to a job or career path to pursue. Employers also need to be honest with colleges about the on-the-job performance of their graduates. “When the graduates they hire have the skills, the colleges need to know. But when the graduates don't have skills, the colleges really need to know,” she said. Ultimately, job placements, rather than enrollments, should be the primary metric for success, she said. She acknowledged the importance of community colleges in preparing students to transfer and earn bachelor’s degrees, but urged the schools to make sure those students, too, graduate with workplace skills including business communication, business math and some familiarity with the labor market and their career interests. Measuring success in terms of job placements would encourage community colleges to improve how they prepare students to navigate careers, she said. But what of today’s workforce and individuals displaced by the pandemic? Jacoby warned that individuals who entered the workforce five or 10 or 20 years ago may have as little knowledge of the current labor market or what they’re aiming for than a traditional student. Displaced adults need help in these areas, too, and don’t find it at many community colleges. Jacoby believes the less time a displaced worker stays out of the workforce (and the less time skills have to become stale), the better. The United States has not been particularly good at training displaced workers, she said, citing the lack of career navigation supports and meaningful partnerships between employers and training providers. Employers who anticipate layoffs can perform skills assessments for employees so they know how these skills could map to a different job or what type of training the employee needs to change jobs. During an UpSkill Works forum in November, guest Matthew Daniel, principal consultant with Guild Education, shared ways employers could structure education programs to support upskilling to achieve better educational and skills development outcomes. “All jobs are going to change,” Jacoby said. “Name a job. It’s different than it was six, nine months ago and it’s going to be different in another nine months.”   Related: Higher Education Gains from its Role in the UpSkill Houston Collaboration The UpSkill Houston initiative's UpSkill Works forum series engages business and community leaders, policy makers and leading thinkers on the key workforce issues our region and nation confront. View all past UpSkill Works Forums.
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Membership

PARTNERSHIP WEEK: Annual Meeting and Meet the Chair Fireside Chat

The Greater Houston Partnership's 2021 Annual Meeting features incoming chair Amy Chronis, Houston Managing Partner, Deloitte as she discusses Houston’s opportunity to strengthen our position as a…

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Executive Partners