Ebony Igwebuike-Tye, serial entrepreneur and real estate agent, says we all need to take a step back and look inward.

In an unprecedented break from the routine avoidance of political issues, major brands across the country have pledged their commitment and their resources to fight racism in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and many other Black people by police.

In Columbus, some 750 organizations including the leaders of the city’s largest private sector companies signed a letter to City Council declaring racism a public health crisis. The group of supporters has grown beyond 3,000 and represents a major departure from the sideline sentiments of the past. With businesses putting themselves out there to advance racial justice and equality—supporting employees attending protests and wearing Black Lives Matter garb—many have asked: Now what are these large corporations going to actually do to create meaningful change?

Columbus CEO asked business leaders.

What can large businesses with lots of resources and big platforms do to bring change?

Ebony Igwebuike-Tye: First, we have to examine ourselves. You know, I think that’s the first part of meaningful action. Ask yourself: Do you know any black business owners? And then, are you looking for opportunities to seek their advice? Put them on your board? Refer them business? These are intentional steps, they may require you to drive further or use some extra effort.

For the July issue of Columbus CEO, we touched base with a number of business leaders on the topic of race. Here's what they had to say.

I think the end result will be meaningful action toward inclusion and advancement—and also increased profitability because this is a spectrum of the market. The Black consumer is a big portion of the market that a lot of brands are missing. The Black consumer is looking to see if these companies are using Black business partners. We go into your stores, we don’t see any Black employees. We don’t see any Black people in any positions of leadership. So is this really important to you?

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.

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