By Sara Samora – Reporter, Houston Business Journal
Lopez Negrete, president and CEO at Lopez Negrete Communications, has seen some progress in his company’s 35 years but felt more could be done.
Now, between the Covid-19 pandemic and George Floyd, a Houstonian who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee to the man’s neck, Lopez Negrete thinks this is the time when everyone will pay attention.
“It’s too big. It’s almost like somebody’s holding your head and keeping your eyes open to say, ‘You cannot not look at this,’” Lopez Negrete said. “That’s the moment I think we’re living.”
Lopez Negrete is hopeful that this is the dawn of a new era of inclusiveness for businesses across the country.
“I think this new era is going to force not just marketers, but companies and organizations to finish the sentence, which is diversity, inclusion, participation and representation,” Lopez Negrete said. “Without participation and representation, diversity, and inclusion is nothing more than changing your casting specs or changing your hiring specs and checking a box.”
So far, companies, such as Houston skincare line Sunday Riley, announced their support by marching for Floyd at Discovery Green, as well as donating to causes such as the NAACP Legal Defense. Others promoted black artists and black-owned businesses.
Houston-area executives, such as Texas Medical Center CEO and President Bill McKeon, expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.
“You had many companies that stepped up and said, ‘You know, this isn’t right, we want you to know it’s not right and we’re going to take steps A, B and C to at least do our part,’” Lopez Negrete said. “Not every company has the resources to come out with a well-crafted statement and an action plan, but I think companies for whom diverse audiences matter have a responsibility to let us know what their position is, and make a commitment to look inside and address the issues that they may or may not have.”
As for what companies should do, the first thing Lopez Negrete said is to understand what happened and what brought about the conversation of race. Moreover, companies and organizations will have to take an introspective look and analyze what biases they hold, if they’re interviewing everybody fairly and if their marketing is really inclusive.
Many companies generate revenue from minorities, but they don’t adequately market to those communities, nor do they hire from those communities the way they should, Lopez Negrete said.
Furthermore, he said companies will have to look at everything, such as why people are falling through the system and why systemic racism exists.
“Ask why and find the barriers, find where it’s falling apart and address it,” Lopez Negrete said. “When I see organizations like Bank of America dedicating a billion dollars to certain areas like health, jobs, training and fair housing, you kind of go, ‘Wow, OK, so they put out a statement. They said this is not something we condone. We see it, and we’re going to do something about it.’”
Some Houston organizations that have shown support for the call to end racism:
- Combined Arms
- The Cannon
- Greater Houston Partnership
- Underbelly Hospitality
- 8th Wonder Brewery
- Compass Houston
- Saint Arnold Brewing
- Port Houston
- University of Houston
- University of St. Thomas
- Rice University
- Reliant Energy
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