Earl Graves Jr., son of Black Enterprise Founder, Earl Graves Sr., explains African American corporate directors’ responsibility to put diversity and equal opportunity on the forefront. As a board member, Graves Jr. has chosen to use his seat to complement his role as an African American in power and strongly advises other board members to do the same in this Black Enterprise article.
When I was invited to serve on the board of AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, in 2002, the first person I consulted was my father. As chairman and publisher of Black Enterprise, Dad served on more than a half dozen corporate boards in his career. His response was classic: “Don’t forget who you are and remember that they didn’t select you because they ran out of smart white guys.”
I got his message loud and clear. Although I strongly believed I could make a contribution based on my business experience and education, I also decided to use my seat to push for greater representation of African Americans at all levels of the organization. I felt it was my responsibility to ensure that this Memphis, Tennessee-based company would increase its percentage of employees and managers in its stores and corporate headquarters.
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