George Floyd’s tragic death has again brought to the forefront our nation’s shameful challenges with issues of race and social injustice. With deep dismay and shared outrage, communities in every state have expressed their anger and frustration through peaceful protest.
Racism is a real problem in this country, and we all share the responsibility to address it. It requires leadership in the municipal, state and federal levels of government, in our schools, our places of worship, our businesses and our homes, so we can work together — honestly, transparently and inclusively — to find solutions.
We must stand together to stop racial injustice, and we must work together to create greater understanding of the challenges faced by African American men and women, young and old, in communities large and small.
The retail industry will play a significant role in healing these divides on race and in implementing the changes we need.
The retail industry will play a significant role in healing these divides on race and in implementing the changes we need. Retailers serve every community across the country and supports one out of every four jobs. We are committed to the values of diversity, inclusion and opportunity, and they have always been at the heart of our industry.
This is a shared journey. Last week I spoke with Tim Ryan, US Chair and Senior Partner at PwC, to discuss the diversity and inclusion program he started and a pledge to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. NRF was the first trade association to make this commitment and sign the pledge in 2017. Since that time, we have strengthened our partnership with PwC and continue to develop programs to support the pledge.
Our leadership is committed to aggressively moving forward with an actionable program that is resourced and robust. We pledge:
- Virtual support groups, town hall forums and trainings for colleagues to listen to, learn from and connect with one another
- A Diversity and Inclusion Council for NRF staff to address and advance equity within our association
- Up to one week of service opportunity for staff to volunteer their time throughout the year
- Employer-matched contributions for employee donations to social justice causes or organizations of their choice, up to $100,000
- Juneteenth observance, in which NRF will close on June 19 to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States
- Identifying opportunities to boost the retail industry’s response by convening thought leaders, sharing best practices and instituting measurable outcomes
Please take the time to read Tim Ryan's latest article, "What PwC Is Doing to Stand Up Against Racism," and listen to this BBC Business Daily podcast episode, "Black Lives Matter: What should businesses do?"
NRF has long led conversations and industry education about diversity and inclusion in small groups and on the main stage at our annual Big Show in New York City, in articles written for STORES magazine and NRF’s blog, during interviews with print and broadcast media, and through the creation of the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up credentials.
Racism and social injustice in America are a tragedy. NRF and the retail industry can and will play an important role in bringing people together to have meaningful conversations while seeking verifiable solutions that will result in lasting and sustainable change.
We look forward to providing updates on our progress.