The Greater Houston Partnership, representing over 1,000 companies, has launched an initiative to advance racial equity in the Houston business community with the unveiling of eight principles. In a unified call-to-action the GHP has secured pledges from over 117 Houston-area companies committed to demonstrate the racial equity principles within their organizations. 

Shortly after the death of George Floyd, the GHP began a quest that nine months later has resulted in One Houston Together, a program modeled after the Greater Cleveland Partnership program.

One Houston Together is the commitment to leverage the power of the business community to address racial inequity in our region. According to the GHP press release, the partnership believes the business community has an opportunity to lead the way in reforming broken systems, partnering with communities, offering support and removing barriers.

The Racial Equity Committee co-chaired by Dr. Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University, and Gretchen Watkins, President of Shell Oil Co. unveiled the eight racial equity principles:

  • We will institute policies and procedures that promote acceptance, respect and opportunity for all human beings. 
  • We will practice and encourage behaviors that build trust and understanding rather than resentment and bias. 
  • We will set measurable goals and practice rigorous accountability in our diversity, inclusion and outreach efforts and within our own institutions.
  • We will acknowledge missteps and correct course when warranted.  
  • We will support advancing equity in the communities in which we live and operate, understanding that our long-term success depends on our shared progress.
  • We will regularly engage with and listen to under-served communities to deepen our understanding of the inequities experienced and seek lasting solutions.
  • We will identify specific and concrete ways to foster the advancement and success of underrepresented groups, institutions, and individuals. 
  • We will promote the application of these principles within our spheres of influence.

The principles, broad in scope, are heavy on keywords but soft on accountability. However, indications are there will be measurable goals and specific policies/procedures to achieve racial equity. 

The regional study conducted by the GHP reveals the initiative will require heavy lifting with almost 50% of Houston-area companies respondents stating they have no formal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan, and 60% adding there are no spending goals for diverse supplier contracting.  

Check out the Defender’s interview with Ruth Simmons in next week’s paper.  

“The Partnership has a responsibility to help ensure our region is a place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Partnership. “We have to be more than just the most diverse city in the country—we must work to be the most inclusive city. By launching One Houston Together and forming our Racial Equity Committee, we now have a pathway to lead the business community on these important issues and realize meaningful change.” 

Bob Harvey

GHP Respondents surveyed

50% – no formal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan

60% – no spending goal for diverse suppliers contracting

94% – have started DEI work within their organization

90% – have active recruitment efforts to attract minority job candidates

One Houston Together 

JUNE: Launched Black Community Listening Tour

AUGUST: Established Racial Equity Committee co-chaired by Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, and Gretchen Watkins, president of Shell Oil Co.

SEPTEMBER: Hosted conversation series featuring experts on understanding racism, health and racial inequity and developing equitable communities.

NOVEMBER: Conducted first regional partnership member and non-member companies.

DECEMBER: Approved Racial Equity Principles by unanimous vote of the partnership board. Member companies asked to commit to principles within their own organization.

DECEMBER: Hired LaTanya Flix as Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.