Emory joins launch of ATL Action for Racial Equity

Emory Report | Feb. 9, 2021

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The new ATL Action for Racial Equity initiative builds on the city’s long history of activism for civil rights and racial equity. The “Homage to King” sculpture, an Atlanta landmark, welcomes visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park. Photo courtesy of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

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Emory University is a founding member of ATL Action for Racial Equity, a new initiative launched Feb. 9 by the Metro Atlanta Chamber. The multi-year, multi-step action plan is designed to help address the ongoing effects of systemic racism impacting the Black community. 

To date, more than 150 metro Atlanta-based companies and institutions, spanning a diverse range of sizes and industries, have joined the initiative that will leverage the size, scale and expertise of the region’s business community to advance racial equity. View the full list.

“At Emory, our mission is to serve humanity, yet we can only achieve that mission if every person — regardless of race or background — is given the opportunity to thrive and share their potential with the world. Today, we are very proud to partner with many incredible organizations across Atlanta as part of ATL Action for Racial Equity,” says Emory President Gregory L. Fenves. “This initiative will help us take a close look at our practices and find powerful ways to make measurable progress towards overturning systemic inequities. Our goal is to help build an Atlanta, and an Emory, that is more vibrant, equitable and inclusive.”

Metro Atlanta has a rich legacy of activism, collaboration, inclusion and leadership in the face of the region’s – and nation’s – most difficult tests. Whether supporting integration at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, advocating for a new inclusive state flag or fighting for passage of hate crimes legislation, the region’s business community has made a habit of joining forces to drive change. MAC says it is time to build on that momentum with ATL Action for Racial Equity. 

“In metro Atlanta, our differences are our strength. We work together to make our community and the world better. We are not perfect, but we are committed to preserving and holding up this region’s legacy, especially now,” says Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines, and MAC’s 2021 board chair. “As we tackle economic recovery, public health and the disproportionate impacts on our Black community, our business community must do its part. This is a moral and economic imperative as we work to grow our region’s competitiveness today and into the future.”

ATL Action for Racial Equity’s groundwork and deep dive on data reveal that a clear and surgical strategy targeting metro Atlanta’s Black population is necessary if the region is to move towards undoing the ills of systemic racism. Because a surgical approach is necessary to solve for the major challenges impacting many underrepresented and under-voiced groups, MAC may incorporate efforts targeting additional demographics into this work over time.

“True impact starts with a detailed action plan, commitment, metrics and accountability. We spent the back half of 2020 working through these critical pieces and are eager to launch this important effort that addresses systemic racism, inequity and immobility head on,” says Katie Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Addressing these issues has been the lifework of so many leaders in our community. We honor them and are stepping up to join them. Leveraging the size, scale and know-how of Atlanta-based companies to make impactful change is an approach that will fuel our economy and set an example for the nation.”

As a first step, ATL Action for Racial Equity is rolling out its corporate policies focus, which calls on businesses across the region to take concrete actions in the areas of people, talent pipeline and human resources policies. Businesses can access a corporate policies playbook online as a guide to setting clear goals and implementing specific actions. Playbooks for the initiative’s inclusive economic development, education and workforce development focus areas will be launched later this year. 

“Joining forces with other Atlanta institutions and businesses in ATL Action for Racial Equity builds on Emory’s longstanding, ongoing commitments to racial and social justice, from teaching and research to our role as one of the city’s leading employers,” says Carol E. Henderson, Emory’s chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and inclusion, noting areas including procurement, supplier diversity, support for Atlanta entrepreneurs, and commitments to sustainability, among others. 

“The Metro Atlanta Chamber understands very well the partnership between businesses and the academy, and that pipeline is key,” Henderson notes. “Not only do we want to make sure our students have internships in Atlanta businesses, we want to support those businesses with our supplier diversity plan, as well as make sure that the businesses we engage with share our values in their corporate climate and culture. This initiative is an opportunity to look at our practices to ensure our efforts are being implemented in really transformative ways to impact our community.”