The Role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders

Erika Irish Brown ’98, Chief Diversity Officer for Goldman Sachs, joins Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Gita Johar for a conversation on the role businesses can play in addressing racial and social justice.

The Workplace, Leadership, Social Impact

As protesters filled the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, Erika Irish Brown ’98, the Chief Diversity Officer at Goldman Sachs, organized a company-wide town hall meeting with CEO David Solomon, who moderated a discussion with three of the firm’s Black senior partners to hear their personal stories.

“I think that Black leaders are telling stories they have not told before in the workplace,” Brown said. “It’s created insight into the lived experience of Black people.”

In a June 26 conversation with Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Gita Johar, Brown further discussed how Goldman Sachs responded to the recent national reckoning on anti-Black racism and touched on the role businesses and academia should play in addressing racial justice. Brown said her company held additional forums for storytelling and communication as well as training for more than 3,000 managers to facilitate dialogue at the firm. “People are not comfortable talking about race,” Brown said. “We need to give our leaders the tools to have those conversations.”

Brown also explained how the current moment has put a spotlight on the need to focus specifically on systemic anti-Black racism. “I think there is a great divide when it comes to understanding the Black experience in this country,” Brown said. “There is now a greater sense of urgency to do something about it.”

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