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One Houston Together: The Business Community's Role in Addressing Racial Inequities

Published Sep 29, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

Through a series of webinars held this month, the Partnership's One Houston Together initiative has explored multiple facets of racial inequity in our community, from how race impacts access to quality education to its effect on residents' health outcomes. Now, armed with this knowledge, what can individual companies and the broader corporate community do to help eliminate the disparities? 

The fifth installment of the One Houston Together webinar series looked at the Business Community's Role in Addressing Racial Inequities and featured LaTanya Flix, Founder and Principal, CauseAdvance; Ingrid Robinson, President, Houston Minority Supplier Development Council; Nicole Zhao, Senior Consultant, Human Capital, Deloitte; and moderator Bob Harvey, President and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership. 

Before the conversation got underway, Partnership Board Chair Bobby Tudor gave an update on the progress of One Houston Together, reminding the audience of the organization's commitment and the principles guiding its actions.

“One thing that’s really important to us at the Partnership, and certainly to me as the Chair, is that this needs to not just be about dialogue but about action," Tudor said. “We are committed to actions that make things better and lead to a more just and racially inclusive community in Houston, and in particular the business community in Houston.”

We invite you to watch the full conversation by clicking the video recording to the right.

Discussion topics included: 

  • How specific companies and organizations have begun to take action. 
  • Ways that companies can make sure their efforts are meaningful instead of "checking a box"
  • Specific company efforts at diversity, equity and inclusion that work, and those that do not. 
  • Reducing implicit bias at key points in the talent life cycle. 
  • The obstacles that remain for minority-owned businesses and how companies can increase their supplier diversity. 
  • How businesses and organizations can act beyond their own walls to address racial inequities in the community. 

“When the business community is serious about an issue, they establish clear benchmarks on what they are trying to achieve and they hold themselves accountable," Harvey said. "If we’re serious this time about racial equity and justice, then we should set benchmarks for our communities that go beyond what we can directly impact in our businesses. We should hold ourselves accountable for how we’re shaping, or helping shape, the community.”

Learn more about One Houston Together. Register today for our upcoming Houston NEXT: An ERG Summit on Oct 16. 

Watch previous One Houston Together webinars: 

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DEI Leader LaTanya Flix joins the Partnership

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HOUSTON (December 7, 2020) - The Greater Houston Partnership is pleased to welcome LaTanya Flix in the newly created role of Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Flix will lead the development and implementation of the organization’s strategy to improve DEI within the Partnership and throughout the Houston region. She assumes the role on Monday, December 7.    The Partnership conducted an extensive search to fill the new position, which is the result of the organization’s One Houston Together initiative launched this fall to help address racial inequities in the region.  Flix joins the Partnership with 20 years of experience in strategy, program management, DEI, and consulting. She most recently led CauseAdvance, a social change advisory practice offering customized equity, strategy, and organizational development services to clients in Houston and across the U.S.  “LaTanya is a native Houstonian who brings with her extensive knowledge of regional business priorities and Houston’s nonprofit sector,” said Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Partnership. “She understands the importance of having a coordinated and intentional focus on equity to maintain economic growth and the vitality of the Houston region for all residents. I’m incredibly pleased to welcome her aboard and look forward to her advancing our efforts in this arena.”  Flix previously held roles with several prominent Houston organizations, including Director of Donor Engagement at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, Executive Director of The Women’s Resource of Greater Houston and Chief Operating Officer of the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation.   “I’m excited to assume this role as a way to continue to leverage my expertise in the city I love and call home,” Flix said. “Houston needs a coordinated and intentional focus on equity to advance the economic growth of our region for all Houstonians. I believe the Partnership is uniquely positioned to lead on this effort.”  In addition to leading the One Houston Together initiative, Flix will serve as executive staff liaison to the Racial Equity Committee. She will also work closely with the Partnership’s Human Resources team to create and implement an internal DEI strategy.  Flix holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Trinity University and earned a Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. She also completed a fellowship in Public Policy & International Affairs at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.    ### Greater Houston Partnership The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the Houston region, the Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at Houston.org. A.J. Mistretta Vice President, Communications          (c) 504-450-3516 | amistretta@houston.org Maggie Martin  Senior Manager, Communications          (c) 832-690-0206 | mmartin@houston.org  
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As part of the One Houston Together effort, the Partnership conducted a survey in November to better understand the current business community activity surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).  The survey received 172 responses and revealed helpful insights about how Houston businesses are progressing in their DEI journey. In interpreting these results, it’s important to understand that the survey may have received more responses from those companies that are already active in DEI as they would be more inclined to participate in this survey. These results are not meant to be representative of the entire Houston business community, rather an indication of how DEI activity is progressing in the responding companies.   Top Five Takeaways 1. DEI programs or efforts exist in nearly all of the respondents’ companies. 94 percent of the respondents have started DEI work within their companies with 54 percent having been on the DEI journey for five or more years. Of those who do not have a DEI program, 77 percent plan on starting one in the near future. Click to expand 2. Companies with DEI officers and DEI committees are more likely to progress in their DEI work.  Of those companies who have progressed further* in their DEI journey, 75 percent have a dedicated DEI Officer. DEI committees also facilitate greater progress: 84 percent of companies with DEI committees have a DEI strategic plan compared to only 43 percent of companies without committees having a plan. (*Companies that have “progressed further” are those that are implementing DEI systemically, showing improved DEI results and outcomes or are demonstrating best practices in DEI.) Companies with committees also make more progress in implementing DEI plans than those without committees, whether that’s through garnering the support of executive leadership, securing a dedicated budget to support DEI efforts, or ensuring assessment and metrics guide their DEI work. 3. Attracting and retaining diverse talent is important to respondent companies. 90 percent of respondents have recruitment efforts to attract minority candidates. The top three strategies utilized to improve diversity in hiring were: Recruiting from schools and conferences other than normal standbys  Posting job openings in outlets targeting underrepresented groups Creating an interview process that makes diverse candidates feel welcomed As far as creating an inclusive work environment, the top three strategies were:   Mandatory unconscious bias training Employee resource groups, affinity groups, or other diversity networks Giving employees a voice in policy and Corporate Social Responsibility programs 4. The majority of companies possess an awareness of DEI as a social responsibility and have begun promoting DEI through its products and services and customer/stakeholder engagement. Companies are further along in integrating DEI practices into their marketing and customer service than in the other categories. The most progress can be made in improving supplier diversity.  Click to expand Inactive – No DEI work has begun; diversity and a culture of inclusion are not part of organizational goals. Reactive – Compliance mindset; actions are taken primarily to comply with relevant laws and social pressures. Proactive – A clear awareness of DEI values; starting to implement DEI systematically. Progressive – Implementing DEI systemically; showing improved results and outcomes. Best Practice – Demonstrating best practices in DEI; an exemplary model for other organizations. 5. Companies are focused on education in their racial equity-related giving and a majority of respondents anticipate maintaining or increasing their corporate financial support of racial equity issues in 2021. When asked what racial equity issues their company has invested in, the top three responses were higher education; reskilling, upskilling, workforce training; and K-12 public education. Nearly a third of the companies spend $500,000 or more a year on racial equity efforts. Sixty percent intend on increasing their giving in 2021 and 38 percent will maintain their current level of investment.  Click to expand Click to expand Click to expand Learn more about the Partnership's racial equity initiative, One Houston Together. 
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