Diversity execs at JPMorgan, LinkedIn, and Facebook say Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict is only one step toward a more equitable workplace

Diversity execs at JPMorgan, LinkedIn, and Facebook say Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict is only one step toward a more equitable workplace
People celebrate Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 20.CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
  • Diversity leaders and consultants shared their reactions to Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict.
  • They felt relieved but said it was "just the beginning" of the work business leaders must do.
  • "A verdict is not a policy," Judith Williams, SAP's head of diversity and inclusion, told Insider.

Kailei Carr sat motionless in the living room of her Atlanta home on Tuesday as she watched a judge read the verdict of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

When Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd, tears welled in her eyes and she embraced her husband.

Carr, founder of the leadership-development firm Asbury Group, said she was relieved that there was accountability in the case of Floyd's death. But the verdict, she said, won't bring him back.

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James Loduca, Twitter's senior director of global inclusion and diversity, and Lesley Slaton Brown, HP's chief diversity officer, were also struck with a deep sense of anguish.

Loduca described it as a "flood of emotions."


For some diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders, Chauvin's verdict is a turning point in the effort to end police brutality and social injustice, a time for renewed purpose. For others, the verdict underscores just how much more work lies ahead. Insider spoke with DEI executives at JPMorgan, Facebook, LinkedIn, SAP, and other Fortune 500 diversity consultants about the larger implications of Chauvin's verdict and what it means for the corporate fight against racial inequity.

"Ultimately, this is one step forward to healing," Carr told Insider. "But there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in our society, culture, and policing system."

Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright, Rayshard Brooks, and Daniel Prude are among over 160 Black Americans killed by police in the past 18 months.

While the Chauvin verdict was a step in the right direction, Carr said it didn't change how she felt about her work.

"It's been an exhausting year," she said. The death of Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer on Tuesday, weighs on her deeply, she added.


America's 'wake-up call'

Brian Lamb, the head of DEI at JPMorgan, and Rosanna Durruthy, LinkedIn's head of DEI, are still processing their emotions.

Lamb, who oversees the financial firm's $30 billion racial-justice commitment, called this moment a "critically important milestone." But corporate leaders "must continue to relentlessly pursue a culture of respect and inclusion," he added.

Durruthy said the future would require DEI leaders to proceed with courage but added that dismantling systemic racism wouldn't happen overnight.

"The verdict has provided many of us with an opportunity to exhale," she said. "This is just the beginning."

Cheslie Kryst, a diversity advisor at the North Carolina law firm Poyner Spruill, agreed. To her, Chauvin's verdict is a "wake-up call," a sign that America will not turn a blind eye to racism in its society or the workplace, she said.


In response to Chauvin's verdict, several prominent companies including Walgreens Boots Alliance and Amazon, released statements pledging continued action to work toward racial equity.

People need to "pledge to do everything within our power to ensure that long-overdue, much-needed reforms are enacted to prevent future injustices," Walgreen's statement read.

It's a promising sign, but Kimberly S. Reed, a strategist at the DEI leadership consultancy Reed Development Group, is urging business leaders to gear up for the journey ahead.

"It's critically important to not let our advocacy and organizational DEI imperatives fall by the wayside or think we have won," she said. "Accountability is not synonymous with justice."

'Business as usual'

While people outside the courthouse in Minneapolis erupted in cheers as Chauvin's verdict was read, the DEI consultant Dee C. Marshall sighed at her desk in New York City.


The Washington Post's police-shootings database showed that on-duty police officers had shot and killed more than 5,000 people since 2015. Few face charges, CNN reported.

"This is not a celebration but a sigh because Black people are still being killed in daylight on camera with witnesses, and at the hands of white police officers who get a pass," Marshall told Insider.

Judith Williams, SAP's global chief of diversity and inclusion, and Maxine Walters, Facebook's chief diversity officer, both felt relieved but not joyous upon hearing Chauvin's verdict.

"A verdict is not a policy," she said. "We must be careful about assuming that this verdict means change."

If society wants substantial change, the US needs police reform, but it also needs reform in its workplaces, Williams said. An equitable workplace ensures people can be themselves, try their best, and feel good about what they're contributing to society.


Of Fortune's top 500 company leaders, five of them are Black. Whole industries like finance, tech, and media are known for their lack of diversity.

There are also broken rungs on the corporate ladder. Black women are significantly less likely than their white coworkers to have a sponsor, according to 2020 McKinsey research.

Black people are still paid less than white people, even as they climb the corporate ladder, according to a PayScale analysis. On average, Black women in the US make 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women, 2020 research by Lean In showed.

"The verdict hasn't changed the amount of work that is still ahead of us," Williams said.

Walters echoed the thought. "We're all feeling burned out from managing through months of televised violence and COVID-19, so there is a lot to carry," she said.


Nicole Johnson, the director of DEI at the hiring platform Mathison, said the verdict did not give her a renewed sense of purpose or energy.

"It is certainly business as usual in my world as an African American woman leading in DEI," she said.

"I feel drained, relieved," Reed said. "There are deep conflicting emotions, as for many people."

LinkedIn's Durruthy said companies needed to continue to support DEI leaders to meet Americans' demands for racial justice.

"The burnout is real, and DEI leaders cannot be responsible for creating change without the engaged commitment of their organization," she said.


For Carr, the Chauvin trial served as an important reminder to prioritize self-care.

"We can't make the impact we need to," she said, "if we are empty and have nothing left to give."