NewsOne on Wednesday hosted the first in its three-part virtual conversation series of panel discussions with corporate leaders and executives who are using their voices to advocate on behalf of Black communities. The series is the result of NewsOne’s partnership with 100 Black Men in America.

Ivy Grant, Vice President and Chief of Staff at Twilio, a cloud communications platform, and Patrick Walsh, Vice President of Foot Locker and General Manager of FootAction, joined moderator Jason Rosario, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at BBDO Worldwide and Founder & CEO of Lives of Men, for a lively discussion about the impact and value of public company statements regarding Black lives and systemic racism.

The topic is a timely one based on the outpouring of support from corporations around the globe in response to the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests against racism and police violence.

Grant, who said she previously worked in the communications sector, suggested that seeing one major company take a stand could lead to a domino effect among other companies and prompt them to do the same.

“The messaging is not just important for your employees to know that you care or for that people to care about it, she said. “The messaging is also for your peers.” She said that responsibility comes with an asterisk, though.

“It’s incredibly important for those words to be backed up with a clear action plan. So it’s great to put a black square on your IG, but it’s really important for you to then have a plan to back that up.”

When the topic turned to how consumers and clients received those messages in support of social justice, Walsh said he was encouraged by the reactions he saw.

“The response has been positive,” Walsh said while discussing how his companies shut all their stores in North America and went dark on social media “in celebration of Floyd’s life.” He said, “it just didn’t feel right to start having conversations around ‘buy these Jordans” and the other products sold by Foot Locker and FootAction.

Judging from the ultimate response in both sales and personal feedback, Walsh said, “I think the consumer has started to change their expectation.”

You can watch the full conversation below on how brands are using their voices to advance Black communities.

The second installment of NewsOne’s virtual conversation series of panel discussions with corporate leaders and executives who are using their voices to advocate on behalf of Black communities is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.

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