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Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, is one of only four black CEOs on the Fortune 500 list. He sat down with Fortune’s Susie Gharib this week for a frank conversation about race relations in America. You can watch the interview here, but this is what he had to say on why he was speaking out now on the topic:
“I think it is really important that everyone understand that even African Americans who have lived and benefited from the American dream, who are, as I am, beneficiaries of the civil rights movement, we have had our moments as well. Racism is not a class-only issue although there are class overtones, it has everything to do with what you look like.
“I’ve been mistaken for a waiter, I’ve been asked to pick up someone’s spoon at a social event, I’ve been watched when I go into retail outlets the way any African American might be, I’ve seen people step aside when I come by. Racism is not something that only happens to poor, uneducated black people, it happens to everybody.”
Ferguson is hopeful the current global movement may mark a turning point.
“America has been having ebbs and flows around racism from the beginning. I don’t expect us to have a sudden epiphany this year that’s going to make 2021 better. But I am looking forward to continuing to have real and honest dialogue and carry it through the full year.”
And since it’s Friday, some feedback. Genworth CEO Tom McInerney wrote in after my post mentioning growing fears of a second wave of economic effects from COVID-19, saying his company “has determined we will extend our U.S. work remotely status to January 1, 2021 from September 8, 2020” for its 3,000 employees, and that even after that the company will “allow employees to work primarily from home if that is their choice.”
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