Dow CEO Fitterling Says Money Alone Won’t Solve Social Inequality

published on July 17, 2020

Jim you're someone who has made such moves in and of yourself in 2014 yourself coming out to your own working employee base a man who is one of the only openly gay chief executives in america i want to

Ask you about the consuming nature of the fight for equality that we see in america right now whether it be in terms of race but also in terms of sexuality religion

Age gender you name it how are you looking to talk to your employee base about this at the moment and drive for change well our focus on when i got named the ceo

And when we were spinning out the company we had to come up with an a purpose statement or an ambition statement for the company material science company focuses on chemistry and physics and engineering that's how

How we solve problems but when i looked at it i said i i think there are four pillars that are going to be important for us to be the best

In this space we have to be the most innovative we have to be the one that's closest to our customers and and listening to our customers about what they want from a standpoint of new

Product and sustainability we have to be inclusive and we have to be sustainable and some people ask well why'd you put inclusive in there i think it speaks to collaboration and i think it speaks to

How you work and it also speaks to you're a reflection of the society around you we're in terms of numbers of employees were small in terms of the industries were touched were big

So we are an example for our little local communities that we serve and we're an example for the bigger world and we need to take that seriously and we need to be a good role model

In how to do that and if we're not dealing with racial equality and equity and social justice inside our own company if we're not dealing with

Lgbt issues inside our own company or gender diversity then we're really not doing the right thing for our employee population at the end of the day when you want to be innovative you want people focused on

The job at hand and when they come into work you want them being able to bring themselves not worry about anything that's going on outside and focused on their work if they're coming from a background

Where they feel like every day the minute they leave your workplace they're under scrutiny the minute they get in their car the first thing they think about is i'm going to get pulled

Over by a policeman somewhere for no no apparent reason all these things pile up on them and physically and mentally it takes a toll um and you know i elected to stay in the

Closet for a long time in my career but i can tell you after coming out that physically and mentally it takes a toll if you do that every day and what we're

Trying to do is eliminate that for people and lift people up if you've got a an economy or a world and uh 80 of the people are doing well and 20 of them are oppressed and you

Said to yourself what would that economy look like if everybody was doing well and you didn't have that oppression i don't think you have to do much math to get to the point that that would be a

Better economy and so for what we can do we need to be a role model to treat people the right way at work and if we can also bring that into the communities that we serve then i think

We can have a powerful multiplier effect to do that and that's that's as simple as it gets we're we're not trying to take political sides on this thing we're just trying to treat people the

Right way can you give us an example just a finish of what you've done to listen or to change or to push for inclusivity when other businesses look to you

To help last week we we put together a set of commitments called dao act act is an acronym for uh advocacy community and talent and we we put some financial commitment behind it i would

Say it's not just a money thing the amount of money isn't going to solve the issue alone but internally on advocacy we've made sure that we've got a social justice council internally to deal with issues

Of inequality inside of dao and then externally we're focused on policy so what can we do we have community advisory panels in each of the communities that we work with

We can work in those panels to focus on policies about engaging and leading alliances and changes to get equality for african americans in the united states we've looked at advocacy with organizations like the

Naacp legal defense fund and the equal justice initiative to help move that on community we're we've been doing a lot of work on supplier diversity we need to make sure that

We don't have any barriers in place that would keep a minority-owned business from doing business with us on talent and it all comes down to people at the end of the day really focusing on the diversity of our

Pipeline but also in our industry we've had a lot of focus on historically black colleges and universities so upping our commitment to them and through our community

College skilled trades programs which creates opportunities for employment and advancement for african-americans but for all all races as well

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