Approximately 61 percent of Americans are looking to business leaders and brands to play a central role in addressing systemic racism. This finding, included in a recent report by Edelman, recognizes the important role business plays in creating a more equitable and just society. Driven by racial incidents in the recent past, American businesses stepped up to bring societal issues to the forefront and to be proactive in finding ways to address those issues.
On March 30 at 12 PM ET, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business Diversity & Inclusion Committee will present a panel discussion on “What Companies Are Doing to Stand Up Against Racism”. Registration is now open for the free virtual event and is available to current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and executive partners.
Leaders from MassMutual and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will share how their respective organizations are taking a stand against racism, how they are renewing their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and what actions they’re taking to address social injustice and racial inequity in the communities they serve.
"This will be our sixth Perspectives Program this academic year,” said Rex Holmlin, Clinical Associate Professor and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. “While we have had more than 600 members of the Mason School community attend our events, our upcoming program is very likely one of the most important ones that our Learning & Development sub-committee will sponsor this year. It is crucial for leaders at all levels in companies and not-for-profit organizations to know how to effectively combat racism wherever it occurs. This event will share the concrete steps that two leading business organizations are taking to combat racism and their experiences will help all of us to be more effective in this fight."
Attendees will hear from Travis Patton ’98, Partner in PwC’s National Tax Services Office; Pia Flanagan, Chief Operating Officer of CEO Action for Racial Equity; Courtney Reid, Head of MassMutual’s Black Strategic Initiative; and Dennis Duquette, Head of Community Responsibility for MassMutual and President & CEO of the MassMutual Foundation. More information about each panelist is included below.
“I'm very proud of PwC's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and fostering a sense of belonging. These pillars are part of PwC's core values,” said Patton. “I'm equally proud of William & Mary's own commitment to stand up against racism, evidenced in many ways, importantly among them through the school’s early adoption of the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion as one of the first universities signatories."
PwC, a corporate partner of the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, aided in the formation of the CEO Action Initiative which involves more than 1,600 companies and universities to include William & Mary. The organization challenges leadership to identify racism in the workplace and its effects on employees, explore leadership responses to racism, and identify individual and corporate strategies to address racism.
As part of that initiative, CEO Action for Racial Equity was formed to provide the opportunity for CEO Action signatories to advance racial equity through public policy and mobilize the business community collectively across industries and regions to exact change.
“CEOs must be leaders on antiracism and address social injustices in a consequential way -- not just in our workplaces, but in society. While the business community has been participating in the discourse on racial equity, we must move beyond talk to action,” said Flanagan. “Through the CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship, we are using our collective voices, talent and passion to identify, develop, and promote scalable and sustainable solutions that will advance racial equity in a meaningful way. At MassMutual, we are committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our workplace, and we are pleased to have five employees besides me participating in the fellowship to advance racial equity for society at large.”
This event is the latest in a series sponsored by the Mason School’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee whose mission is to foster positive change and widespread education on topics such as social injustice and racial inequity issues.
For more information and to register for “What Companies Are Doing to Stand Up Against Racism”, visit the Mason School’s Event Calendar. To learn more about the Mason School’s overall D&I activities, visit the D&I Committee’s website.
More About the Panelists
Travis Patton, ’98 is a Partner in PwC’s National Tax Services Office and its Exempt Organization Tax Services practice. For over 20 years, he has provided tax services to exempt organizations focused on healthcare, higher education, museums, and foundations. As a resident of Washington, DC, Travis monitors legislation and regulatory developments on Capitol Hill and at the Internal Revenue Service. A licensed CPA, he has published in several industry journals and he is a member of the AICPA. He holds a BBA in Accounting from William & Mary and an MS in Taxation from American University. He also serves as a Board member and Treasurer for Whitman Walker Health, a federally qualified health center.
Pia Flanagan is the Chief Operating Officer of CEO Action for Racial Equity as part of a two-year fellowship program. She helps lead the day-to-day strategy and operations of the fellowship, which brings together more than 250 fellows from over 100 organizations to identify, develop and promote scalable and sustainable public policies and corporate engagement strategies that address systemic racism and social injustice as well as improve societal wellbeing. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief of Staff to the Chairman, President and CEO of MassMutual and as a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team. She was previously a partner in the New York office of global law firm Baker & McKenzie. Pia holds a BS in Accounting and Finance from The University of Texas at Austin, a JD from Emory University, and a LLM in Taxation from New York University.
Courtney Reid is Head of MassMutual’s Black Strategic Initiative where she leads a cross-functional enterprise effort to examine the company’s external and internal engagement with the Black and African American community, and to identify and execute strategies that will contribute to the elimination of systemic structures that exacerbate racial inequities. She concurrently serves as Chair of the Passages Business Resource Group and as Lead Counsel within the Broker-Dealer and Investment Adviser practice group at MassMutual. She has over 14 years of industry litigator experience as both in-house and outside counsel, and was the 2017 Fellow with the Leadership Council on Diversity. Courtney received her BA in Journalism and Mass Communications, and in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her JD from North Carolina Central University.
Dennis P. Duquette is Head of Community Responsibility for MassMutual and President & CEO of the MassMutual Foundation. He is responsible for the team that develops and implements corporate community engagement strategy, driving community investments and philanthropy, and community impact program management and measurement for the firm nationally. He has served in numerous roles throughout his 40-year career in the financial services industry. Prior to his current position, he worked for Fidelity Investments in Boston, managing corporate communications and brand marketing. Dennis earned his BA and his MS degrees from Boston College, and holds a MA in Public Policy & Administration from Northwestern University.