As critical conversations continue about diversity missteps across corporate America, Tapestry Inc. CEO Jide Zeitlin — one of only four black CEOS on the Fortune 500 — said it’s critical for companies to take action right now.
“It’s an unfortunate reality, and it’s a real opportunity … for boards and management to challenge themselves in terms of both diversity and inclusivity. It’s clear that we need to better recognize it’s not simply a nice thing, it’s a business imperative,” he said on “Face the Nation” yesterday. “It’s holding ourselves much more accountable, the same way we hold ourselves accountable for revenue and profit targets — and to meet that diversity with an inclusive environment, one that encourages employees to show up at work fully themselves.”
Zeitlin, who oversees Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, recently elaborated about this pivotal moment during an interview with FN.
How I’m Feeling:
“I’m feeling very human and vulnerable. I am saddened by the violence perpetrated on men and women across this country, from Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd. I am also hopeful. I believe in the ideal that is America. An ideal that is about equal opportunity and the social mobility that comes with it. When I see the young black man in the street protesting, I sit there and I say, that’s me. He’s crying out for opportunity, the opportunity to better himself. And, in so doing, to make America stronger. I believe that if he’s able to achieve the American dream, it makes all of us better.”
What I’m Doing:
“Having conversations. With my family, with my colleagues, with other corporate leaders. I’m also having conversations with leaders such as Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative and at other critical civil society institutions. Our team at Tapestry wants to collaborate with a number of social justice, legal, and corporate entities to develop and support longer-term plans for addressing systemic inequality. Inequality in health, economic opportunity, public safety, and other sectors, and we’re taking the first steps along these lines. We hope to join with government, but events of this past week make it clear that we cannot wait.”