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Let us all renew our commitments this Juneteenth

By Kevin Wilhelm, CEO, Sustainable Business Consulting

For many Americans, June 19th or Juneteenth is just now becoming a date they are familiar with – the date in 1865 which was a full 10 weeks after the Civil War when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom.

If we’ve learned anything from this past year, it’s that we all need to do more. With racial inequality on the rise, we must double down and renew our commitments towards diversity, equity, social justice and inclusion.

As the US Senate voted to establish June 19th as a Federal Holiday this Tuesday with zero dissent, it’s important that we lean into this moment – all of us. Many of us strived to become more educated and empathetic on issues of race over this past year, but that is not enough. We need to do more. We need to turn this into action.

We need to include diversity, social justice and equity into how we do business and operate each and every day. We need to include it into our public policy, and into our day-to-day operational procedures. We need to make sure we put it at the forefront of our hiring & recruiting practices, but even more importantly into our buying and procurement decisions.

So as we celebrate Juneteenth this year. Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on all that has happened this past year, identify where systemic prejudice still resides and let’s once and for all stand up against racism – not only in our words, but in our actions.

Kevin Wilhelm is the CEO of Sustainable Business Consulting and teaches Environment, Social and Governance at the Harvard Extension School.