Here's how organizations can advance racial justice right now

Katy Smith
First row: Courtnee Carrigan, Barb Smoot, Nick Akins; Second row: Moses Hayelom, Marlon Platt, Kirt Walker; Third row: Dr. Hal Paz, Freweini Alemayoh, Ebony Igwebuike-Tye

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?

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Here’s what a few CEOs had to say on the topic, and what some Black business owners say would help everyone succeed going forward.

Courtnee Carrigan

CEO and executive trainer, Raising the Bar Performance Group and project manager for Franklin County’s Blueprint to Reduce Poverty

Kirt Walker

CEO, Nationwide

Ebony Igwebuike-Tye

Serial entrepreneur and real estate agent

Marlon Platt

Founder, Marlon Anthony Events and co-owner of Our Bar & Lounge, Olde Towne East

Barb Smoot

CEO, Women for Economic and Leadership Development

Dr. Hal Paz

Executive vice president and chancellor for health affairs, Ohio State University and CEO, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Nick Akins

Chairman, president and CEO, American Electric Power

Freweini Alemayoh and Moses Hayelom

Mother and son, co-owners with daughter Winta of Wintana’s Salon & Spa and Flavor 91 Bistro, Whitehall

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.