In the wake of protests following the murder of George Floyd, businesses in the US and elsewhere have started to consider systemic racism and how it can be confronted; a Target executive provides a framework.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Laysha Ward, executive vice president and chief external engagement officer at US retail giant Target, stresses there can be no one-size-fits-all approach for companies to tackle racism. However, a common framework and principles can help complement, rather than replace, existing strategies.

Ward details the pillars of a framework she relies on in her work at Target and other groups, which she says reflect insights from local and national organizations and thought leaders, as well as her own experience as a Black woman.

Four of these pillars are described as foundational.


This is an organization’s “why?” What is the problem that is being solved and the ultimate effect a business wants to achieve? “Use your purpose as a filter for decision making and to help build the will to have the uncomfortable conversations,” Ward writes.


This reflects the essential “listening, learning, and collaborative development of solutions that organizations must do with their Black employees and a broad ecosystem of partners.” Ward suggests beginning with the question: “Do you know what the Black experience is like inside your company?” Then gather a range of perspectives to ensure all stakeholders understand the reality of your team’s experience.

People practices

This is another major part of any strategy, stresses Ward. Black executives are greatly underrepresented in CEO and C-suite roles, and the jobs leading to that level. As a consequence, she says, “We need to be much more intentional about creating opportunities for Black talent to take on new and challenging roles, including assignments with P&L [profit and loss] responsibilities.”

Performance metrics

This is another key in advancing long-term efforts. Organizations need to measure the costs and benefits of existing and new initiatives, Ward writes, as well as doubling down on what works, and holding everyone accountable for outcomes. “The selection of meaningful diversity and inclusion metrics is an art, rather than a science,” Ward says. “Your metrics should be guided by your purpose and should track your progress over time towards the achievement of your stated racial equity goals.”

Sourced from Harvard Business Review