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Parallel and Ceres Acquisition Corp. Announce Business Combination to Create a Publicly Traded U.S. Cannabis Well-Being Company

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Wearable Tech Gives Rise to New Options in Healthcare

Transaction expected to fuel the growth of Parallel’s U.S. footprint and enhance its mission to pioneer well-being and improve quality of life through cannabinoids

Beau Wrigley remaining as Chairman and CEO and Ceres Group Holdings’ Scooter Braun to serve as a Special Advisor

Transaction values Parallel at an implied enterprise value of US$1.884 billion1

Investors commit to an over-subscribed US$225 million private placement at closing; combined public company expected to have US$430 million cash balance at closing

Ceres Acquisition Corp.’s CEO Joe Crouthers to become a director of the combined public company, with an additional slate of 4 independent directors with significant health and life sciences experience

Joint conference call to discuss the proposed transaction today at 9:00 a.m. ET

ATLANTA and TORONTO, Feb. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Parallel (the “Company”), one of the largest privately-held multi-state cannabis operators in the United States (U.S.) and Ceres Acquisition Corp. (“Ceres”) (NEO: CERE.U, CERE.WT;OTCQX: CERAF), a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC), today announced they have entered into a definitive business combination agreement involving a transaction that, if completed, would result in Parallel becoming a public company (the “Transaction”). In addition, a group of investors, led by Ceres and Parallel, have committed to participate in the Transaction through an over-subscribed private investment in public equity (“PIPE”) of US$225 million. Subject to the satisfaction of Conditions (as defined below), the Transaction is expected to close in Summer 2021.

William “Beau” Wrigley Jr., Chairman and CEO of Parallel said: “We believe Parallel is ideally positioned for its next phase of growth, as we continue to build our presence in strategic markets and invest in innovation, R&D and the customer experience. Today’s milestone announcement is a testament to Parallel’s impressive growth to date, the strength of our business fundamentals, strong balance sheet, and above all, our unwavering commitment to further developing and enhancing our portfolio of cannabinoid products.

This transaction will enable Parallel to accelerate existing investments to transform not only our company but also the cannabis industry, as we seek to disrupt the more traditional beverage alcohol and healthcare spaces. As a public company, we will have access to capital to grow our national footprint through new licenses and M&A, improve our cultivation and production capacity, expand our established retail footprint, develop and launch rare cannabinoids products with therapeutic benefits, and conduct important clinical research in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We look forward to working with the Ceres team and benefiting from Scooter Braun’s expertise and extensive influencer network to reach our diverse consumers with creative omnichannel approaches that will fuel Parallel’s leadership in the cannabis industry.”

Joe Crouthers, Chairman and CEO of Ceres Acquisition Corp said: “Ceres’ deep cannabis and consumer experience, coupled with Scooter’s powerful network, makes Ceres an ideal partner for a well-positioned, well-led, high growth cannabis company like Parallel. The Ceres team has organized a set of truly unique resources that aims to open the top of the consumer awareness funnel and help fuel growth – from capital to cannabis to marketing to an extensive network in entertainment and access to consumers – we look forward to supporting Parallel’s transition to a publicly traded company.”

Scott “Scooter” Braun, Co-Founder of Ceres Group Holdings said: “I have carefully watched the cannabis industry and Parallel stands out as a leader in the space. With a culture of compliance and strong values, a commitment to social equity, and disciplined growth and innovation, I’m thrilled to work with Parallel. Together, Ceres and Parallel have the experience and reputation to drive growth and create value for all their stakeholders. Beau and his team stand out among the pack and bring to the table their deep experience and business acumen to run a public business of this size and I believe Parallel is primed for massive growth in the sector. I’m honored and excited for the opportunity.”

Summary of Transaction Terms

Ceres has agreed to acquire Parallel at an implied enterprise value of US$1.884 billion, and has received commitments from a group of investors in an over-subscribed PIPE of US$225 million at a price of US$10.00 per share issuable immediately prior to, and conditional on, completion of this business combination with Parallel. Substantial investment in the PIPE came from existing Parallel and Ceres investors, as well as institutions and private family offices in both the U.S. and Canada. The proceeds of the PIPE are intended to be used to fund Parallel’s continued growth and market expansion.

Following the close of the Transaction and subject to shareholder approval, Beau Wrigley will continue to serve as Parallel’s Chairman and CEO, Scooter Braun will serve as a Special Advisor, and the following individuals will constitute the Board of Directors:

  • Marina Bozilenko, who has over 30 years of investment banking and other healthcare industry expertise and currently serves as Strategic Advisor to William Blair and Company, where she previously served as Managing Director and Head of Biotech & Pharma;
  • Kevin Douglas, M.D., a biopharmaceutical professional with over 15 years of U.S. and international industry experience, who currently serves as Medical Director of U.S. Rheumatology and Study Designated Physician/Therapeutic Medical Director at Abbvie, Inc.;
  • Sarah Hassan, who was a founding partner of IM HealthScience and acting CFO through the sale of the company to Nestlé HealthScience in 2020, in addition to holding prior positions as a venture capital partner and fund manager;
  • Linda McGoldrick, a global business strategy leader and policy expert in healthcare, who has spent her entire 30-year career working in senior executive and advisory roles, including as CEO and independent board member of numerous healthcare and life sciences companies;
  • Joe Crouthers, Chairman and CEO of Ceres Acquisition Corp., who is a seasoned cannabis investor and entrepreneur who previously worked as a commodities trader and portfolio manager at Goldman Sachs; and
  • Phil Harris, current General Counsel at Parallel, who has experience as a partner across several Chicago based global law firms, where he served as a practice leader and on the management and diversity committees.

This strong slate of expertise in wellness, healthcare, life sciences and branding represents a significant diversity of perspectives across the Board.

The combined publicly listed company is anticipated to have Class A Subordinate Voting Stock and Class B Multiple Voting Stock. The Class B Multiple Voting Stock will have 15 votes per share and will be held by Beau Wrigley and his affiliate entities upon close. The Class A Subordinate Voting Stock will have one vote per share and will be the publicly traded class of stock upon the closing of the Transaction.

The Transaction is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions (the “Conditions”), including but not limited to the approvals of U.S. state and local regulatory authorities, and the NEO Exchange and Canadian securities regulatory authority approvals, as well as certain third party consents. There can be no assurance that these conditions will be satisfied. The Transaction is also subject to Ceres shareholder approval and Parallel stockholder approval.

Parallel Investment Highlights

  • Proven Business Model, Attractive Valuation and Strong Fundamentals
    • The Transaction values Parallel at an implied enterprise value of US$1.884 billion with expected Net Revenues of US$447 million in 2021.
    • Expected pro forma cash on hand of US$430 million at close, including US$225 million from the PIPE and US$120 million of cash held in Ceres’ escrow account assuming no redemptions.
    • Management team and infrastructure designed to scale for meaningful growth driven by ongoing supply chain innovation and market growth.
  • Strong Presence in High Growth Markets, Complemented by Omnichannel Platform
    • Operations in five states that have potential to see significant growth in cannabis sales, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, and Nevada.
    • A total of 42 brick and mortar dispensaries drive brand recognition and opportunity to capitalize on market growth.
    • E-commerce infrastructure that supports the next phase of cannabis distribution, including online order-ahead, curbside pickup and home delivery sales, which is expected to drive strong net revenue generation.
  • Robust Research and Development (“R&D”) Platform
    • Parallel believes it is a leader in the production and commercialization of rare cannabinoids with significant therapeutic potential.
    • Parallel has developed cannabinoid research partnerships with renowned domestic and international research institutions.
    • Proprietary and exclusive technologies provide supply and cost advantages over competitors, as well as an expanded portfolio of products with broader therapeutic applications.
  • Track Record of Strategic M&A and Partnerships
    • Parallel has a demonstrated ability to consolidate, having successfully closed multiple transformative and accretive acquisitions which Parallel believes will enable it to efficiently build scale, create cost synergies, and provide new assets to drive growth.
    • Parallel intends to enter into a partnership with COOKIES, a collaboration that will strengthen the Company’s presence in Las Vegas with a well-known consumer retail brand, subject to the review and approval of the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board.
    • Parallel looks forward to leveraging Ceres’ networks to drive meaningful business opportunities, including the founders of 72andSunny, MGMT, Red Light and others.
  • Dedication to Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Parallel’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) is focused on cultivating well-being with intentionality to benefit our people, customers, communities and the industry at large. Through its many partnerships, Parallel drives CSR through meaningful actions that positively impact the communities where we live and work.
    • This includes partnerships with CultivatED, Cannaclusive, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and CannabisLAB. These collaborations enable Parallel to promote social equity, build community relations, and build upon the positive impact of the cannabis industry.
    • Internally, Parallel has created Employee Resource Groups, launched an employee-giving platform called Parallel Cares, and organized community clean-up efforts as Parallel associates strive to enrich their communities in many ways.
    • Parallel is proud of its diverse employee base, which includes 41% of positions held by females and 37% of positions held by minorities.
  • Unmatched Consumer Goods Expertise and Management Track Record
    • William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. is the former CEO of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, and grew that company to over US$5 billion in revenue with distribution in 180 countries before orchestrating its sale to Mars in 2008 for US$23 billion.
    • Scooter Braun is one of the entertainment industry’s most influential forces with a strong network in consumer industries broadly. His roster of management clients, including some of the biggest pop-culture icons in the world, has a significant fanbase globally across multiple generations, which are increasingly viewing cannabis through a wellness lens.
    • The broader management team has decades of consumer goods, retail, financial services and healthcare experience with both public and private companies.

Advisors                                                

Perella Weinberg Partners LP is serving as financial advisor and Greenberg Traurig LLP and Aird & Berlis LLP are serving as legal advisors to Parallel. Canaccord Genuity Corp. is serving as financial and capital markets advisor and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP are serving as legal advisors to Ceres.

Conference Call Information

A call regarding the proposed merger will take place at 9:00 a.m. ET today, February 22, 2021. The call may be accessed by dialing (855)-480-0897 for domestic callers or (469)-565-9982 for international callers. The conference ID is 4779728. Please dial in at least five minutes prior to the start of the call.

A webcast of the call, along with this press release and the investor presentation are available in the “investor” section of the Parallel website at www.liveparallel.com and Ceres Acquisition Corp.’s website at www.ceresacquisition.com.

Additional Information

Ceres has filed today an investor presentation which describes in more detail the proposed transaction and provides a business overview of Parallel. The presentation is available under Ceres’s profile on www.sedar.com and on the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s (the “SEC”) website at http://www.sec.gov, as well as on Ceres’ website, www.ceresacquisition.com.

Ceres expects to file with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada, except Quebec, a non-offering prospectus containing disclosure regarding, among other things, the Transaction and Parallel assuming completion of the Transaction. Investors and security holders may obtain a copy of the definitive agreements for the Transaction and the prospectus, when filed, under Ceres’s profile on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com.

In connection with the Transaction, Ceres is expected to file a Form S-4 with the SEC and an information circular with Canadian securities regulators. Ceres and Parallel urge investors, stockholders and other interested persons to read, when available, the Form S-4, including the preliminary prospectus and amendments thereto and the definitive prospectus, as well as other documents to be filed with the SEC and documents (including the prospectus and information circular) to be filed with Canadian securities regulatory authorities in connection with the Transaction, as these materials will contain important information about Ceres, Parallel, the combined public company and the Transaction. Ceres also will file other documents regarding the Transaction with the SEC. Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of the proxy statement and all other relevant documents filed or that will be filed with the SEC by Ceres through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. In addition, the documents filed by Ceres may be obtained free of charge from Ceres’ website at www.ceresacquisition.com or by written request to Ceres at Ceres Acquisition Corp., 1925 Century Park East, Los Angeles, California, United States 90067.

The financial information and data contained in this press release is unaudited and does not conform to Regulation S-X promulgated by the SEC. Accordingly, such information and data may not be included in, may be adjusted in, or may be presented differently in, any proxy statement, prospectus or registration statement or other report or document to be filed or furnished by Ceres, Parallel or any entity that is party to the proposed Transaction with the SEC.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain information in this press release contains “forward-looking statements” and “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation and U.S. securities law (referred to herein as forward-looking statements), including statements regarding the Transaction and expected future growth. Except for statements of historical fact, certain information contained herein constitutes forward-looking statements, which include, but are not limited to, statements related to activities, events or developments that Parallel or Ceres expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future, statements related to Parallel’s business strategy objectives and goals, and Parallel’s management’s assessment of future plans and operations which are based on current internal expectations, estimates, projections, assumptions and beliefs, which may prove to be incorrect. Forward-looking statements can often be identified by the use of words such as “may”, “will”, “could”, “would”, “anticipate”, ‘believe”, expect “, “intend”, “potential “, “estimate”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “plans”, “planned”, “forecasts”, “goals” and similar expressions or the negatives thereof. Such statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are based on Parallel’s management’s belief or interpretation of information currently available. Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurances of future performance. Forward-looking statements in this press release includes statements regarding: the Transaction; Parallel’s expansion strategy and plans to grow its market share in existing and new markets; Parallel’s investment in new technologies and products; the development and expansion of Parallel’s brands; and strategic acquisition opportunities. Forward-looking statements are based on a number of factors and assumptions made by management and considered reasonable at the time such information is provided, and forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. There can be no assurance that the transactions described herein will be completed or that, if completed, the combined public company will be successful.

Risk factors that could cause actual results, performance or achievement to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to the following: (i) the risk that the Transaction may not be completed in a timely manner or at all, which may adversely affect the price of Ceres’ securities, (ii) the risk that the Transaction may not be completed by Ceres’ qualifying transaction deadline and the potential failure to obtain an extension of the qualifying transaction deadline if sought by Ceres, (iii) the failure to satisfy the conditions to the consummation of the Transaction, including the approval of the Transaction by the stockholders of Ceres and Parallel, as applicable, the satisfaction of the minimum trust account amount following any redemptions by Ceres’ shareholders and the receipt of certain governmental and regulatory approvals, (iv) the lack of a third party valuation in determining whether or not to pursue the proposed Transaction, (v) the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstance that could give rise to the termination of the business combination agreement, (vi) the impact of COVID-19 on Parallel’s business and/or the ability of the parties to complete the proposed Transaction, (vii) the effect of the announcement or pendency of the Transaction on Parallel’s business relationships, performance, and business generally, (viii) risks that the proposed Transaction disrupts current plans and operations of Parallel and potential difficulties in Parallel employee retention as a result of the proposed Transaction, (ix) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Parallel or Ceres or their respective, directors, officers and affiliates related to the proposed Transaction, (x) the risk that the combined public company’s securities will not be approved for listing on the NEO Exchange or, if approved, that the combined public company will be able to maintain the listing, (xi) the price of Ceres’ and the combined public company’s securities may be volatile due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Parallel operates, variations in performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting Parallel’s business and changes in the combined capital structure and a return on securities of the combined public company is not guaranteed, (xii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the proposed Transaction, and identify and realize additional opportunities, (xiii) the risk of downturns and the possibility of rapid change in the highly competitive industry in which Parallel operates, (xiv) the risk that Parallel and its current and future collaborators are unable to successfully develop and commercialize Parallel’s products, brands or services, or experience significant delays in doing so, (xv) the risk that the combined public company may never sustain profitability, (xvi) the risk that the combined public company will need to raise additional capital to execute its business plan, which may not be available on acceptable terms or at all, (xvii) the risk that the combined public company experiences difficulties in managing its growth and expanding operations, (xviii) the risk that the pharmaceutical industry may attempt to dominate the cannabis industry , and in particular, legal marijuana, through the development and distribution of synthetic products which emulate the effects and treatment of organic marijuana, (xix) the agricultural risks related to insects, plant diseases, unstable growing conditions, water and electricity availability and cost, (xx) the risk that may arise because cannabis continues to be a controlled substance under the United States Federal Controlled Substances Act, (xxi) the risk of product liability or regulatory lawsuits or proceedings relating to Parallel’s products and services, (xxii) the risk that the combined public company is unable to secure or protect its intellectual property, (xxiii) tax risks, including U.S. federal income tax treatment, (xxiv) risks relating to the reliance of Parallel on key members of management, (xxv) risks inherent in businesses related to the agricultural industry , (xxvi) risks relating to potentially unfavorable publicity or consumer perception , (xxvi) Parallel may be subject to the risk of competition from synthetic production and technological advances, (xxvii) investors in the combined public company and its directors, officers and employees who are not U.S. citizens may be denied entry into the United States, (xxviii) product recalls, (xxix) results of future clinical research, (xxx) difficulty attracting and retaining personnel, (xxxi) fraudulent or illegal activity by employees, contractors and consultants; information technology systems and cyber-attacks, (xxxii) security breaches, (xxxiii) natural disasters and terrorism risk, (xxxiv) restricted access to banking, (xxxv) risks related to the lending facilities, (xxxvi) risks of leverage, (xxxvii) heightened scrutiny by regulatory authorities, (xlvi) risk of legal, regulatory or political change, (xlvii) general regulatory and licensing risks, (xlviii) Parallel and the combined public company may be subject to the risk of changes in Canadian as well as U.S. federal, state and local laws or regulations, (xlix) limitations on ownership of licenses, (I) Nevada regulatory regime and transfer and grant of licenses, (Ii) regulatory action and approvals from the FDA, (Iii) constraints on marketing products, (liii) anti-money laundering laws and regulation, (liv) the combined public company’s status as an “Emerging Growth Company” under United States securities laws, (Iv) discretion in the use of proceeds, (lvi) subsequent offerings will result in dilution to shareholders of the combined public company, (lvii) voting control, and (lviii) unpredictability caused by capital structure and voting control. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list is not exhaustive.

Parallel and Ceres undertake no obligation to update forward-looking statements if circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions should change except as required by applicable securities laws.

U.S. Disclaimer

Neither the securities of Ceres nor of Parallel have been registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “U.S. Securities Act”), or any state securities laws and may not be offered and sold in the United States except pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements of the U.S. Securities Act.

Any securities of either Ceres or Parallel sold in the United States will be “restricted securities” within the meaning of Rule 144 under the U.S. Securities Act. Such securities may be resold, pledged or otherwise transferred only pursuant to an effective registration statement under the U.S. Securities Act or pursuant to an applicable exemption from the registration requirements of the U.S. Securities Act.

About Parallel

Parallel is one of the largest privately-held, vertically-integrated, multi-state cannabis companies in the world with a mission to pioneer well-being and improve the quality of life through cannabinoids. Parallel owns and operates retail dispensaries in four medical and adult-use markets: Surterra Wellness in Florida and Texas; New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Massachusetts, and The Apothecary Shoppe in Nevada. Parallel also has a license under its Goodblend brand in Pennsylvania for vertically-integrated operations and up to six retail locations, in addition to a medical cannabis research partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Company has a diverse portfolio of high quality, proprietary and licensed consumer brands and products including Surterra Wellness, Coral Reefer, Float and Heights. Parallel operates approximately 50 retail stores nationwide, including cultivation and manufacturing sites across the four states. The Company, through its Parallel Biosciences division, conducts advanced cannabis science and conducts R&D for new product development in its facilities in Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, and Budapest, Hungary. Parallel follows rigorous operations and business practices to ensure the quality, safety, consistency and efficacy of its products and is building its business by following strong values and putting the well-being of its customers and associates first. Find more information at www.liveParallel.com, or on Instagram and LinkedIn. Any information accessed through Parallel’s website, Instagram or LinkedIn is not incorporated by reference into, and is not part of, this document.

About Ceres Acquisition Corp.

Ceres is a recently organized special purpose acquisition corporation incorporated under the laws of the Province of British Columbia for the purpose of effecting an acquisition of one or more businesses or assets, by way of a merger, amalgamation, arrangement, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization, or any other similar business combination. For further information on Ceres please visit our website or you can find us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Contacts

Parallel Media:
Taylor Foxman-Weiner
[email protected]

Parallel Investors:
[email protected]

Ceres:
Briana Chester
[email protected]

1 All enterprise valuations included in this press release assume a $10.00 valuation of the Ceres stock and that there are no redemptions from Ceres’ escrow account in connection with the closing of the business combination.

SOURCE Parallel

Related Links

http://www.ceresacquisition.com

Business

Nuvation Bio Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results and Provides Business Update

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Nuvation Bio Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results and Provides Business Update

NEW YORK, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Nuvation Bio Inc. (NYSE: NUVB), a biopharmaceutical company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology by developing differentiated and novel therapeutic candidates, today reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021, and provided a business update.

“Nuvation Bio continues to make meaningful progress on advancing our deep pipeline of therapies for difficult-to-treat cancers and remains on track to submit five additional Investigational New Drug (IND) applications by 2026,” said David Hung, M.D., founder and chief executive officer of Nuvation Bio. “We also continue to enroll and dose patients in our Phase 1/2 study of NUV-422, our lead cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 2/4/6 inhibitor, in high-grade gliomas and expect top-line data from the Phase 1 portion of this study in 2022. Our strong cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $824.7 million at the end of the first quarter provides us sufficient resources to continue to execute on our robust clinical development plan and grow our pipeline of novel and mechanistically distinct cancer treatments.”

Recent Business Highlights

  • Enrollment ongoing in Phase 1/2 study of NUV-422. Nuvation Bio continues to enroll and dose patients in the Phase 1/2 study of its lead investigational compound, NUV-422, a CDK 2/4/6 inhibitor, in adult patients with recurrent or refractory high-grade gliomas, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). The Phase 1 dose escalation portion of the study is designed to evaluate safety and tolerability, as well as to determine a recommended Phase 2 dose based on the tolerability profile and pharmacokinetic properties of NUV-422. The Phase 2 dose expansion portion of the study is expected to initially focus on patients with high-grade gliomas and is designed to evaluate overall response rate, duration of response and survival. Data from the Phase 1 portion of this study is expected in 2022.

First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

As of March 31, 2021, Nuvation Bio had cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities of $824.7 million.

For the three months ended March 31, 2021, research and development expenses were $15.9 million, compared to $7.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020. The increase of $8.6 million was due to an increase in third-party costs related to research services and manufacturing to advance our current preclinical programs and Phase 1/2 clinical trial. Also, the current period includes approximately $3.7 million related to the issuance of common stock as consideration for the purchase of in-process research and development.

For the three months ended March 31, 2021, general and administrative expenses were $4.6 million, compared to $1.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020. The increase of $2.7 million was due to increased personnel-related costs driven by an increase in headcount, as well as increases in professional fees, insurance costs and tax expense.

For the three months ended March 31, 2021, Nuvation Bio reported a net loss of $20.4 million, or $(0.12) per share. This compares to a net loss of $8.7 million, or $(0.10) per share, for the comparable period in 2020.

Restatement of Panacea Financial Statements

Nuvation Bio also announced that, as reported in a Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on May 14, 2021, as a result of guidance provided by the SEC on April 12, 2021 regarding the accounting for warrants issued by special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), it is restating the previously issued 2020 consolidated financial statements of Panacea Acquisition Corp. (Panacea). Panacea combined with Nuvation Bio Inc. (Legacy Nuvation Bio) and changed its name to Nuvation Bio Inc. on February 10, 2021 (the Merger).

The restatement pertains to the accounting treatment for Panacea’s public and private placement warrants that were outstanding on December 31, 2020, as well as the forward purchase agreement (the “FPA”) with certain anchor investors, which provided for the potential future issuance of securities, including additional warrants. Consistent with market practice among SPACs, Panacea had been accounting for the warrants and the FPA as equity under a fixed accounting model. However, in light of the recent SEC guidance, we are restating Panacea’s historical financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 such that the warrants and the FPA are accounted for as liabilities and marked-to-market each reporting period. In general, under the mark-to-market accounting model, we measure the fair value of the liability-classified warrants and the FPA at the end of each reporting period and recognize any changes in their fair value in our operating results. As of December 31, 2020, Panacea had 4,954,167 warrants outstanding and subject to reclassification. Upon completion of the Merger, an additional 833,333 warrants were issued pursuant to the FPA.

The change in accounting treatment does not impact the historical financial statements of Legacy Nuvation Bio, which became the historical financial statements of the combined company upon completion of the Merger. In addition, Nuvation Bio currently expects that the reclassification of the warrants will have no impact on the liquidity or cash or cash equivalents in the historical financial statements of Panacea.

About Nuvation Bio

Nuvation Bio is a biopharmaceutical company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology by developing differentiated and novel therapeutic candidates. Nuvation Bio’s proprietary portfolio includes six novel and mechanistically distinct oncology therapeutic product candidates, each targeting some of the most difficult-to-treat types of cancer. Nuvation Bio was founded in 2018 by biopharma industry veteran David Hung, M.D., who previously founded Medivation, Inc., which brought to patients one of the world’s leading prostate cancer medicines. Nuvation Bio has offices in New York and San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.nuvationbio.com.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain statements included in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are sometimes accompanied by words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “should,” “would,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “seem,” “seek,” “future,” “outlook” and similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the potential therapeutic benefit of Nuvation Bio’s product candidates, expected future IND filings, the expected timing of clinical trial data and the expected impact of the restatement of Panacea’s 2020 financial statements. These statements are based on various assumptions, whether or not identified in this press release, and on the current expectations of the management team of Nuvation Bio and are not predictions of actual performance. These forward-looking statements are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to serve as, and must not be relied on as, a guarantee, an assurance, a prediction or a definitive statement of fact or probability. Actual events and circumstances are difficult or impossible to predict and will differ from assumptions. Many actual events and circumstances are beyond the control of Nuvation Bio. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including those factors discussed in the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC on or about May 17, 2021, in the section titled “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” and other documents that Nuvation Bio has filed or will file with the SEC. If any of these risks materialize or Nuvation Bio’s assumptions prove incorrect, actual results could differ materially from the results implied by these forward-looking statements. There may be additional risks that Nuvation Bio does not presently know, or that Nuvation Bio currently believes are immaterial, that could also cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements. In addition, forward-looking statements reflect Nuvation Bio’s expectations, plans or forecasts of future events and views as of the date of this press release. Nuvation Bio anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause Nuvation Bio’s assessments to change. However, while Nuvation Bio may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, Nuvation Bio specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing Nuvation Bio’s assessments of any date subsequent to the date of this press release. Accordingly, undue reliance should not be placed upon the forward-looking statements.

Nuvation Bio Investor Contact:
[email protected]

Nuvation Bio Media Contact:
Argot Partners
Leo Vartorella
[email protected]

NUVATION BIO INC. and Subsidiaries








Condensed Balance Sheets




‘(In thousands, except share and per share data)

March 31,


December 31,


2021


2020





Assets








Current assets:




Cash and cash equivalents

$    638,904


$             29,755

Prepaid expenses

5,138


914

Marketable securities available-for-sale, at fair value

185,809


185,997

Interest receivable on marketable securities

1,015


1,092

Deferred financing costs


2,925

Total current assets

830,866


220,683





Property and equipment, net

772


688





Other assets:




Lease security deposit

421


421





Total assets

$    832,059


$           221,792





Liabilities and stockholders’ equity







Current liabilities:




Accounts payable

$        6,003


$               2,171

Accrued expenses

3,984


4,380

Total current liabilities

9,987


6,551

Warrant liability

15,561


Deferred rent – non current

167


157

Total liabilities

25,715


6,708





Commitments and contingencies (Note 11)








Stockholders’ equity




Class A and Class B common stock and additional paid in capital, $0.0001 par value per share;




1,060,000,000 shares authorized as of March 31, 2021 (Class A 1,000,000,000, Class B 60,000,000)




and 1,174,094,678 shares authorized as of December 31, 2020 (Class A 880,000,000, Class B 294,094,678);




217,650,055 (Class A 216,650,055, Class B 1,000,000) and 149,042,155 (Class A 91,397,142,




Class B 57,645,013) issued and outstanding as of March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively

901,720


289,482

Accumulated deficit

(96,357)


(75,955)

Accumulated other comprehensive income

981


1,557

Total stockholders’ equity

806,344


215,084





Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

$    832,059


$           221,792

NUVATION BIO INC. and Subsidiaries








Condensed Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss




(In thousands, except share and per share data)








For The Three Months Ended March 31,

2021


2020









Operating expenses:




Research and development

$       15,879


$       7,295

General and administrative

4,605


1,925

Total operating expenses

20,484


9,220





Loss from operations

(20,484)


(9,220)





Other income (expense):




Interest income

438


519

Investment advisory fees

(108)


(60)

Change in fair value of warrant liability

(293)


Realized gain on marketable securities

45


15

Total other income (expense)

82


474





Loss before income taxes

(20,402)


(8,746)





Provision for income taxes






Net loss

$     (20,402)


$     (8,746)

Net loss attributable to common stockholders




Net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted

$        (0.12)


$       (0.10)

Weighted average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted

169,659,037


85,714,375





Comprehensive loss:




Net loss

$     (20,402)


$     (8,746)

Other comprehensive income, net of taxes:




Change in unrealized (loss) gain on available-for-sale securities

(576)


819





Comprehensive loss

$     (20,978)


$     (7,927)

SOURCE Nuvation Bio, Inc.

Related Links

www.nuvationbio.com

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Synlogic Reports First Quarter Financial Results and Provides Business Update

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Synlogic Reports First Quarter Financial Results and Provides Business Update

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Synlogic, Inc. (Nasdaq: SYBX), a clinical stage company bringing the transformative potential of synthetic biology to medicine, today reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021, and provided an update on its clinical and preclinical programs.

“We are building momentum and executing on our plans to demonstrate the clinical potential of our Synthetic Biotic platform in 2021,” said Aoife Brennan, M.B. Ch.B., Synlogic’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “With proof of mechanism established in our two lead metabolic programs and a strengthened balance sheet, we are well positioned to deliver proof of concept readouts for both SYNB1618 in Phenylketonuria (PKU) and SYNB8802 in Enteric Hyperoxaluria later this year.”

Quarter Highlights

The Metabolic Portfolio:

Continued development of Synthetic Biotic™ medicines for the treatment of PKU.

  • Enrollment of the SynPheny-1 Phase 2 trial is on track with data expected in the second half of 2021. SynPheny-1 is designed to evaluate plasma phenylalanine (Phe) lowering of a solid oral formulation of SYNB1618 in adult PKU patients who do not benefit from, or do not tolerate, existing therapies such as KUVAN® (sapropterin dihydrochloride) or PALYNZIQ® (pegvaliase-pqpz).
  • Data on the solid oral formulation of SYNB1618 was presented at the American College of Medical Genetics meeting in April 2021.
  • Continued development of SYNB1934, an evolved Synthetic Biotic medicine in the PKU portfolio, which may provide increased Phe lowering efficacy, lower dosing, or both, relative to SYNB1618. SYNB1934 is progressing through IND enabling studies.

SYNB1618 and SYNB1934 are orally administered Synthetic Biotic medicines being developed as potential treatments for PKU. They are intended to address the needs of patients of all age groups through the consumption of Phe in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which has the potential to lower blood Phe levels and enable the consumption of more natural protein in the diet.

Demonstration of proof of mechanism of SYNB8802, a Synthetic Biotic medicine being developed for the treatment of Enteric Hhyperoxaluria.

  • In an ongoing Phase 1 study, SYNB8802 demonstrated safety and urinary oxalate lowering in healthy volunteers consuming a high oxalate diet.
  • Urinary oxalate lowering by SYNB8802 was dose-dependent. The 3e11 dose was chosen for further evaluation in the second part of the Phase 1 study in patients with Enteric Hyperoxaluria. This dose was well-tolerated and resulted in a 28.6% (90% CI: -42.4 to -11.6) reduction in urinary oxalate as measured by a change from baseline compared to placebo.
  • The second part of the Phase 1 study is continuing with the evaluation of SYNB8802 in patients with Enteric Hyperoxaluria secondary to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. Data from the second part of the study is anticipated in the second half of 2021.

SYNB8802 is an orally administered Synthetic Biotic medicine being developed as a potential treatment for Enteric Hyperoxaluria. Enteric Hyperoxaluria results in dangerously high urinary oxalate levels causing progressive kidney damage, kidney stone formation, and nephrocalcinosis. Enteric Hyperoxaluria has no approved treatment options. SYNB8802 is designed to consume oxalate in the GI tract to prevent the increased absorption of oxalate in patients with Enteric Hyperoxaluria.

The Immunomodulation Portfolio:

Progression of SYNB1891 in combination arm dosing with PDL1 checkpoint inhibitor in an ongoing Phase 1 clinical study in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma.

  • SYNB1891 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 study that has two parts:
    • Part A is a monotherapy arm that has enrolled six dose cohorts to date. The maximum tolerated dose has not been reached and dose escalation continues.
    • Part B is a combination arm and dosing has been completed in two cohorts to date with SYNB1891 and the PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab to establish a recommended Phase 2 dose for the combination regimen.
  • Data from this study was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting in April 2021.

SYNB1891 is an intratumorally administered Synthetic Biotic medicine engineered to act as a dual innate and adaptive immune activator. Data from both arms of the Phase 1 study will continue to be reported over the course of 2021, with mature combination therapy data expected by the end of the year.

Corporate Update:

Synlogic strengthens Balance Sheet.

  • On April 20th, subsequent to the end of the first quarter, Synlogic completed an underwritten public offering of 11.5 million shares. Net proceeds from the offering were $32.6 million, bringing Synlogic’s cash balance to approximately $127 million.

Synlogic advances strategic partnerships and expands manufacturing capabilities.

  • Synlogic plans to expand its manufacturing footprint by more than 50% to support continued advancement of its pipeline and late-phase development of its lead metabolic programs.
    • Synlogic will invest to expand fermentation and lyophilization capacity to support scale up efforts, enabling potential late stage development of SYNB1618 and SYNB8802.
    • Construction and build out anticipated to take place in the second half of 2021.
  • Synlogic and the MIT Voigt Lab are collaborating with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to engineer novel investigational medicines to address battle fatigue.
  • Synlogic and Ginkgo Bioworks continue to advance their long-term strategic platform collaboration that provides expanded synthetic biology capabilities to Synlogic with multiple undisclosed metabolic programs now in preclinical stages of development.

First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

As of March 31, 2021, Synlogic had cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $94.4 million.

For the three months ended March 31, 2021, Synlogic reported a consolidated net loss of $15.0 million, or $0.36 per share, compared to a consolidated net loss of $15.8 million, or $0.46 per share, for the corresponding period in 2020.

Research and development expenses were $11.2 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021 compared to $12.7 million for the corresponding period in 2020.

General and administrative expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2021 were $3.9 million compared to $3.8 million for the corresponding period in 2020.

There was no revenue for the three months ended March 31, 2021 compared to $0.1 million for the corresponding period in 2020. Revenue for the prior period was associated with Synlogic’s collaboration with AbbVie to develop Synthetic Biotic medicines for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease which was terminated in May 2020.

Financial Outlook

Based upon its current operating plan, balance sheet as of March 31st, 2021 and proceeds from the recent public offering in April 2021, Synlogic expects to have sufficient cash to be able to fund the base operating plan into the second half of 2023.

Conference Call & Webcast Information

Synlogic will host a conference call and live webcast at 8:30 am ET today, Thursday, May 13, 2021. To access the live webcast, please visit the “Event Calendar” page within the Investors and Media section of the Synlogic website. Investors may listen to the call by dialing +1 (844) 815-2882 from locations in the United States or +1 (213) 660-0926 from outside the United States. The conference ID number is 2526209. A replay will be available for 30 days on the Investors and Media section of the Synlogic website.

About Synlogic
Synlogic™ is bringing the transformative potential of synthetic biology to medicine. With a premiere synthetic biology platform that leverages a reproducible, modular approach to microbial engineering, Synlogic designs Synthetic Biotic medicines that target validated underlying biology to treat disease in new ways. Synlogic’s proprietary pipeline includes Synthetic Biotics for the treatment of metabolic disorders including Phenylketonuria (PKU) and Enteric Hyperoxaluria. The company is also building a portfolio of partner-able assets in immunology and oncology.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” that involve substantial risks and uncertainties for purposes of the safe harbor provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included in this press release regarding strategy, future operations, clinical development plans, future financial position, future revenue, projected expenses, prospects, plans and objectives of management are forward-looking statements. In addition, when or if used in this press release, the words “may,” “could,” “should,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “predict” and similar expressions and their variants, as they relate to Synlogic may identify forward-looking statements. Examples of forward-looking statements, include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the potential of Synlogic’s platform to develop therapeutics to address a wide range of diseases including: cancer, inborn errors of metabolism, metabolic diseases, and inflammatory and immune disorders; our expectations about sufficiency of our existing cash balance; the future clinical development of Synthetic Biotic medicines; the approach Synlogic is taking to discover and develop novel therapeutics using synthetic biology; and the expected timing of Synlogic’s clinical trials and availability of clinical trial data. Actual results could differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement as a result of various factors, including: the uncertainties inherent in the clinical and preclinical development process; the ability of Synlogic to protect its intellectual property rights; and legislative, regulatory, political and economic developments, as well as those risks identified under the heading “Risk Factors” in Synlogic’s filings with the SEC. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release reflect Synlogic’s current views with respect to future events. Synlogic anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause its views to change. However, while Synlogic may elect to update these forward-looking statements in the future, Synlogic specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing Synlogic’s view as of any date subsequent to the date hereof.


Synlogic, Inc.


Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations


(unaudited)








(in thousands except share and per share data)

For the three months ended





March 31, 2021


March 31, 2020










Revenue

$                 —


$                     100










Operating expenses







Research and development

11,180


12,677




General and administrative

3,851


3,821



Total operating expenses

15,031


16,498



Loss from operations

(15,031)


(16,398)



Other income, net

60


570



Net loss

$         (14,971)


$                (15,828)










Net loss per share – basic and diluted

$             (0.36)


$                   (0.46)



Weighted-average common shares used in computing net loss per share – basic and diluted

41,545,050


34,233,688




Synlogic, Inc.


Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets


(unaudited)

(in thousands, except share data)








March 31, 2021


December 31, 2020



Assets







Cash, cash equivalents, short and long-term investments

$          94,352


$               100,444




Fixed assets

10,174


10,776




Other assets

31,219


32,620



Total assets

$        135,745


$               143,840










Liabilities and stockholders’ equity







Current liabilities

$            6,986


$                   8,301




Long-term liabilities

$          19,709


20,404




Total liabilities

26,695


28,705




Total stockholders’ equity

$        109,050


115,135



Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

$        135,745


$               143,840










Common stock and common stock equivalents







Common stock

40,873,526


38,183,273




Common stock warrants (pre-funded)

2,548,117


2,548,117



Total common stock

43,421,643


40,731,390



SOURCE Synlogic, Inc.

Related Links

http://www.synlogictx.com

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18 Business Leaders on Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Society

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18 Business Leaders on Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Society

The United States is currently facing an important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. Many of us see the news and ask how we can help. What are the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way?

Authority Magazine recently ran an interview series asking close to fifty influential business leaders if they can share their “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”.

Here are some highlights of these interviews.

Cedric Ellis of CUNA Mutual Group

Cedric Ellis of CUNA Mutual Group

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

The challenge with DE&I initiatives is that most organizations want the quick fix or what I call the “just add water” approach. To be effective and authentic, one must do the work to better understand the challenges that we face with race in our country. To answer the question more directly, context is key. We all have bias we bring everywhere, but these steps can be important for eliminating roadblocks for DE&I:

1. Ensure leaders aren’t perpetuating the sense of inequity, discrimination, or systemic challenges. Often, employees of color have white leaders. If we can come to terms with the fact that we all have bias and challenge these notions about who is being burdened versus helped, we can go far.

2. Examine your organizational purpose and align DE&I strategy to that. You need to build the why. Be clear about what you want to accomplish, and why. For example, at CUNA Mutual Group, we believe a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone. Inclusion is built into our purpose.

3. Build a baseline level of training and education for front-line leaders. This dictates how DE&I is embraced and will most directly address how systemic racism is dismantled in the community. If you’re trying to build an anti-racist organization, it starts with front-line leaders to influence overall culture.

4. Be deliberate about your recruiting efforts. Move beyond the usual suspects and think about where diverse talent that without your usual pedigree might be, because those pedigrees probably don’t have enough diversity.

5. The most important step of all is to have a CEO who is on board. Having a CEO who is a champion for DE&I and believes it is linked to success and isn’t afraid to talk about it, sets the tone for DE&I to be successful.

Leslie Crutchfield of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Leslie Crutchfield of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

1. Change hearts as well as policies. Racism is a social norm, a cultural attitude, a personal GFN. It cannot be legislated or regulated. But it can be changed.

The fight for same-sex marriage equality offers a powerful example. In that movement, reformers deliberately set out to first understand where most people in America stood on LGBTQ marriage. National polls in the 2000s showed that while a handful of respondents were adamantly opposed to gay marriage, whether for ideological, religious or other reasons, the vast majority did not have a strong GFN. They weren’t for it or against it. Many said they didn’t understand why gay people wanted to marry. So, the Freedom to Marry campaign and its allies set out to convince this silent, if confused, majority of “persuadable” people to support their cause through widespread social media campaigns and targeted efforts to change the attitudes of influential individuals. Dismantling deeply-rooted social and cultural norms is more challenging than changing laws or regulations. But it is possible.

2. Have a national strategy and a federal strategy. The most successful movements of the 21st Century focused on state and local policy reform, and only later attempted more sweeping federal changes. This worked for anti-smoking crusaders, gun rights proponents, and gay marriage advocates alike over the past two decades, even though these different causes appealed to opposing political parties. Advocates and allies for Black lives should focus their firepower on state and local policy reform now, while they have the nation’s attention  —  and empathy — they can generate the momentum needed to achieve nationwide changes in the future. But if, instead, the movement pushes for sweeping federal changes too soon, they could squander this historic opportunity.

3. Data doesn’t matter, emotions do. People respond to events with their reptile brains, it’s primal and subconscious. But even the most well-intentioned advocates rely too often on statistics and try to use data and numbers to argue for their cause. For instance, people in America knew as early as 1964 that smoking was dangerous to your health  —  that’s when the US Surgeon General first warned about cigarettes, but it took more than several decades of non-smoker’s rights and tobacco control advocacy and social norm change campaigns to prevent youth smoking and cut adult smoking rates to their current historic lows. It wasn’t because the data wasn’t available or known. It was the way advocates and people with lived experience of smoking-related diseases shared their stories that change happens.

In this moment of racial reckoning, the more leaders can create places for people to share their personal stories with race and racism, the more understanding and empathy will grow. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, churches, and more can promote the sharing of stories to build affinity for causes.

4. Break from Business as Usual. Business can be a vector for change, not just a donor to causes or a target of activist ire. And whether by choice or by default, companies today are becoming more involved with social movements, with seemingly every corporate CEO now speaking out against racism. Companies can play roles in social movements that are much more complex and far-reaching than self-promotional advertisements or corporate statements promising racial solidarity. Corporate leaders who want to demonstrate support with Black Lives Matter can start by reforming internal policies around hiring, retention, promotion, and pay equity, and also reviewing their supply chain through a lens of diversity and inclusion, among other ways to take meaningful action against racism.

5. Be “leaderful.” From the start, Black Lives Matter was committed to being a “leaderful” movement  —  leading from the grassroots up and allowing people with lived experience of racism and police brutality to speak out and stand at the front of protest marches. This was a smart decision. I know from my research that the most successful modern social movements embrace this leadership approach, understanding that it is both effective and protective. Without a sole charismatic leader, the movement is less vulnerable to attack, such as the tragic assassinations of civil rights leaders in the 1960s, most notably the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The challenge, now that the movement for Black lives has the attention and the empathy of a majority of Americans will be to turn widespread social support into political will.

Carolyn Collins of Gas South

Carolyn Collins of Gas South

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

1. Expand our view. I believe the first step in this journey is recognizing we see the world very narrowly and all of our experiences are not universal. We can’t even begin to have a conversation about equity until we acknowledge where there are inequities.

2. Learn to unlearn. There are assumptions, behaviors, and patterns of thinking that we all have internalized and need to unlearn. Working toward inclusion will require us to interrogate the various ways we craft policy and distribute opportunity. Until we have the framework to implement a more inclusive way of thinking, we will continue to perpetuate the same outcomes.

3. Name the oppression. You can not solve a problem that you can not identify. We must get comfortable naming systems, policies, and people that have contributed to the marginalization of some communities. We must be honest about the issues to create the right solutions.

4. Make restitution. The past is always with us in the present. We need to reckon with our history if we want to make our nation whole. This request often is interpreted as asking people to atone for the sins of their ancestors, which is not the case. We do, however, need to critically examine the lingering impacts of our early history and work to neutralize them.

5. Commit for life. None of these changes will happen overnight or with the passage of a few laws. It will take intentionality and deliberateness from all of us to ensure we continue to support equity throughout all of our communities.

Marianne Harrison of John Hancock

Marianne Harrison of John Hancock

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

1. Embrace vulnerability. Seven years into my career as a public accountant, I had just had my second child and was thriving personally and professionally. One of my managers took me aside and told me that having any more children would hurt me from progressing in my career. Two months later, I was pregnant with my third child and now I am the CEO of John Hancock. These types of experiences really stuck with me and reinforce the value of making sure my employees (and really anyone) feel they are in a judgment-free environment and can bring their whole selves to work, or anywhere else.

2. Recognize accomplishments. It is important that people are recognized for their accomplishments and rewarded as such, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, age, and ability. I would never want someone to credit my gender for my success. I want people to recognize that I got to this position for being me, for working hard and for doing the best that I can.

3. Create space for diversity of thought. People think differently. That’s a good thing. Being able to recognize the value in different perspectives is key to creating an inclusive environment. Diversity of thought gives us the opportunity to see new and innovative ideas and understand different ways of doing things, and it comes from having people of different races, genders, sexuality, geography, work experiences, etc. at the table.

4. Join forces with others. At John Hancock, we benefit from having many thoughtful community partners and we participate in industry groups like the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, American Council of Life Insurers, and CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. This allows for consensus-building beyond our own walls to help drive systemic level changes that are needed.

5. Listen and learn from experts. We have benefited greatly from a guest speaker series during our remote work that has brought in third-party voices and experiences to help keep our team engaged. From a NASA astronaut to a presidential historian  —  listening to and learning from those outside our team is so helpful to broaden our perspective.

Dr. Halima Leak Francis of Tulane University

Dr. Halima Leak Francis of Tulane University

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

1. Ongoing investment of resources.   In order to open doors and support the shifts that we need to see in leadership, we have to make diversity and equity a fiscal priority. To this end, education is one of the most critical areas we must invest in.

2. Commit to the long game .  I mentioned earlier that the challenges and frustrations that we are seeing did not happen overnight. Many have committed their life’s work to advancing equity, inclusivity, and justice. If we are going to sustain progress here, we have to be just as committed to long-term monitoring, evaluation, and course correction when needed.

3. Change culture and practice .  We live in a society where things like inequity, bias, and various injustices are systemic and deeply embedded in our very identities. While very difficult, changing this from a cultural, policy, and practice stance is necessary if we are going to create an inclusive and equitable society. I think as the conversation has turned to being “anti-racist,” we are headed in the right direction here. Ibram Kendi, author of How to be Antiracist clarifies the concept: “To be antiracist is a radical choice in the face of history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness.”

4. Open the door and share the stage .  This is about sharing power, opportunity, and influence. Too often diverse voices are muted, resulting in one-sided dialogues that are not representative of the most heavily impacted communities. Sometimes opening doors to advance diversity means actively seeking out expertise and skill in spaces where we might not typically look.

5. Face the difficulties with hope and optimism . Make no mistake, what we are facing today is difficult. It is heavy work and emotional labor is real. To get through the tough times, it is important to remain focused on the goal which is a thriving society where everyone is valued and equity is the rule, not the exception. We are not aiming for a utopian ideal, but instead an attainable reality. Tapping into the creative potential of building equitable systems reminds us of why the labor is well worth it.

Kathryn C. Thornton, Former Astronaut & Space Foundation Chairwoman

Kathryn C. Thornton, Former Astronaut & Space Foundation Chairwoman

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

As a global convener of the world’s space community, we launched our Center for Innovation and Education at Space Foundation with the mission to provide greater access and opportunity for current and future generations of space contributors. Our approach is an all-inclusive strategy through collaborative partnerships that develop and deliver innovative and economic programming to build a sustainable workforce.

At the hub of the Center for Innovation and Education is our Workforce Development Roadmap, which lays the foundation for building the space workforce today and into the future. The roadmap consists of five core principles that address key issues in building a diverse and inclusive workforce. These principles can be readily extrapolated to build a representative and equitable culture in broader communities.

1. Awareness of space impact and the breadth of workforce opportunities. Raising space industry awareness and workforce opportunities has been a focus of Space Foundation since the beginning. There is a misconception that the space industry is for a select workforce of astronauts, scientists and government contractors. This could not be further from the truth. Today, there is an opportunity for everyone, in virtually every community in the world, to participate in the space economy. How? People with a STEM background can build rockets, yes, but there are also opportunities for entrepreneurs to commercialize space-based technologies, for artists to create new designs, and for skilled trade workers to perform fiber laser welding. The future of space is extending into commercial technologies that not only benefit the aerospace community but also improve life here on Earth.

2. Access to jobs, careers and business ventures for all people. I have seen that it isn’t just enough to be aware of opportunities in the space industry: We need to make those opportunities accessible. I remember a time during my 12 years at NASA, the Kennedy Space Center reached out to a local community college to train technicians to apply tiles on the space shuttle. This was not a skill that was taught at the college. It was a need, and through collaboration with the college, the skill was eventually taught and accessible to anyone interested in the space industry. Today, the space workforce is a collaboration of communities, public and private companies, government agencies, entrepreneurs and small business suppliers, educational institutions, and space enthusiasts. By partnering with like-minded organizations, Space Foundation is opening the door to expanding access to all people interested in the space economy.

3. Training for lifelong learning of sustainable skills. In today’s workforce, careers are not linear or set by unchanging parameters. Workplaces are more dynamic, and technology changes the way we work at an unprecedented pace. Traditional education is not keeping up with the needs or the workplace, and employers are not providing the continued job training workers need in light of evolving technology and automation. Department of Labor Statistics and Pearson surveys show that 64 percent of workers are in favor of job-hopping, often to pursue new challenges and higher salaries that are commensurate with their skill level. The average employee tenure is four point two years. This number drops to just two point eight years for employees ages 25–34. Employees around the globe report a need for further education every two years because their jobs have changed. Training for me has been a lifelong pursuit, and likewise, Space Foundation endeavors to enable lifelong learners, from students to professionals at any stage of their careers. Through grants, sponsorships and partnerships, we provide a wide range of multimodal training, including hands-on camps, field excursions, self-guided online webinars, and collaborative regional workshops and virtual events for training as well as plans for reskilling or upskilling to grow and retain a vibrant space economy workforce.

4. Connections to a vast space network of people, businesses, and resources. Gaining entry into most fields is bolstered by one’s network and connections. This is a major stumbling block for most underserved groups, and we at Space Foundation are working to open up our network and communities to new demographics. Here’s how: Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium is the leading international event for the space industry, attracting 15,000-plus representatives from the military, civil and commercial space sectors to examine space issues from multiple perspectives, promote dialogue, conduct new business ventures and partnerships, and focus attention on critical space issues. Space Foundation extends scholarships to teachers, students, young professionals, and space commerce entrepreneurs in order to build their networks. The New Generation Leadership program connects promising young professionals (ages 35 and younger) to space professionals that can provide real-world career advice, guidance, and job roadmaps. The new Swigert Society Young Leaders program connects tomorrow’s leaders with philanthropists who want to make substantial innovations a reality by providing funds that will jump-start promising efforts.

5. Mentorship of young leaders to be next-generation role models. There are fewer space industry role models today than there were during the excitement of the 1960s. Yet, to build and retain a qualified workforce requires mentoring and role models for today’s youth, educators, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. In high school, I was the only girl in my physics class. The retired Air Force officer who taught the class treated me the same way he treated his male students. He didn’t belittle me. He was the reason I majored in physics in college, and I credit my career to him. That’s the power of just having someone believe in you. I invited him to all of my launches. Anyone aspiring to be a valuable contributor to the space economy wants to learn and be inspired. Not only can a mentor aid in skill development and career advancement, but having a role model gives the curious an inside look into their profession, helping to drive and motivate the workforce to pursue passions and continue developing talents throughout their careers. Integrating contributors with experienced leaders in the workplace will allow for active engagement, collaboration, and the development of a thriving space industry. Recognizing that people are one of the most powerful assets, our programs at Space Foundation are designed to ensure a healthy, balanced progression of mentorship and role models at all levels  —  from aspiring workforce candidates to space professionals. Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons inspire students, communities and peer educators, while our NewGen Ambassadors mentor middle and high school students, and its Senior Leader Mentors guide young leaders, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Rahkim Sabree of An Extended Hand

Rahkim Sabree of An Extended Hand

Image credit:
Authority Magazine

1. Creating a safe space . The introduction of the topic and establishment of rules of engagement. It’s important for a structure to exist as many of these discussions can and will explore traumas and challenge beliefs considered cultural norms. A good starting point is banning the phrase “that’s how we’ve always done it” from conversation. How you’ve always done it previously by virtue of this discussion hasn’t exactly promoted an inclusive, representative, or equitable society has it?

2. A discussion on the definition of racism and how institutional racism works. Inclusion addresses more than just the race issue, however, racism as a whole and institutional racism specifically is an excellent case study in how to silence and limit the progression of oppressed peoples. Remember the boiling water and pot lid analogy? Institutional racism is that lid.

3. Acknowledging culture clash in which the dominant culture cannibalizes or forces out diverse cultures (in hiring, evaluating, promoting, showcasing, etc of employees). Many organizations, unfortunately, will embrace DE&I efforts as an exercise to check off the box; where they will potentially hire a diverse staff, maybe create some affinity groups and have a yearly event with food and music and consider themselves done. These actions however can be interpreted as a sort of “dog and pony” show leaving the underrepresented feeling slightly offended. A good example of this is when democratic lawmakers wore African kente cloths to announce police reform legislation earlier this year. It was a publicity stunt that left many offended. In corporate organizations, this is difficult to address but necessary. Standards around dress, appearance, who gets promoted or hired, who gets a leadership role, etc are often exclusive in that to be embraced or accepted you have to speak a certain way, dress a certain way, look a certain way, prepare your hair a certain way, and sometimes have a name that is easy to say lest you be forced to accept a nickname. It makes the statement that you either assimilate or get out. That you should be grateful for being given this opportunity and not that we value you because of what you bring to the table.

4. Listening . Letting the underrepresented share their experiences, anxieties, fears, etc without interruption or fear of retaliation. This is something that may take time and span many sessions simply because a considerable amount of time is going to be required to undo trauma associated with having to fit in, be “appropriate,”  feeling the need to code-switch, etc. It can also be uncomfortable as sharing these experiences can be triggering on both sides of the table; as the dominant culture will feel the need to explain, defend, or justify, and the underrepresented may feel like it’s a losing battle not even worth engaging in. These sessions will likely require a moderator who is detached from the organization and who is willing to be provocative enough to pull some of the answers out while maintaining order to be effective.

5. Response and accountability . Letting members of the dominant culture react, respond, ask questions, hold each other accountable, and look for ways to dismantle organizational norms that stem from racism. Some would argue that it’s not something that can be solved overnight, and in some instances, I might agree. However, the speed at which you move to address these issues is going to correlate to the energy behind making it a priority and getting it done. When you hear the titles CEO, CFO, COO, you likely will immediately think of a middle-aged white man. Inversely when you think of the title Chief Diversity Officer, or Diversity and Inclusion Officer you’ll likely imagine a black man or woman, relatively young and full of energy. This is the type of programming that needs to be dismantled. Why are we surprised to hear that major brands with household names have c-suite executives who are black men, or women of any race?

Mary Davis, CEO of The Special Olympics

Mary Davis, CEO of The Special Olympics

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Authority Magazine

1. Listen. It is important to listen to people’s views and hear what they have to say. For example, after George Floyd’s murder, we held an all-staff forum for employees to share how they were feeling and to share their experiences. We wanted to create a safe space where people felt they could express their fears and voice their frustrations. We also set up a D&I steering group and a task force to lead this work.

2. Engage. Involve people as part of the solution. In Special Olympics, our athletes are the leaders and teachers of inclusion. They are Global Ambassadors, Health Messengers, Board Members and play an active role in all aspects of the organization.

3. Respect. Respect, value, and appreciate the talents and contributions of everyone. We have a unified school program where students with and without intellectual disabilities play sports together. Through this experience and the power of play, students without disability learn about the skills and talents of students with intellectual disabilities, and through this experience, they are more respecting and understanding of difference.

4. Act. Actions speak louder than words. We must not just talk about how we are going to be more inclusive, each of us must be part of the change that we wish to see and not stand on the sidelines and wait for someone else. We need to be active participants. Through our Global Youth Engagement Program, Special Olympics has inclusion leadership projects that create an opportunity for young people around the world to convene through local summits in their own countries and regions to learn and grow from each other.

5. Commit. The journey towards inclusion requires long-term, focused attention and everyone must be committed to staying the course in building a more equitable and diverse society for all.

Makya Renée Little of the Virginia Commission on African American History Education

Makya Renée Little of the Virginia Commission on African American History Education

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Authority Magazine

1. Know your “why.” Be willing to do the self-work to establish your own North Star, and ensure you are genuinely driven by a desire to leave our society better than you found it  —  in whatever aspect or field that may be. Once you know your why and how to effectively leverage your natural gifts in your pursuit, be willing to sacrifice your comfort and push through barriers to drive change.

2. Respect others. See those who differ from you as equally talented and deserving of opportunities. There is so much intersectionality between our experiences that I feel there is always something I can learn from someone else  —  no matter their age or station in life. The basic recognition that someone knows something that you don’t is reason enough to respect them.

3. Practice empathy. Listen to one another. Don’t dismiss stories of inequity. Although you may not be able to relate to the specific challenges of someone whose life experience may have differed from yours does not invalidate that experience. Take a moment to “walk in their shoes.”

4. Never stop learning. Constantly work to educate yourself on past issues and the history of our nation. Don’t rest on your laurels and take everything that you learned in school or see online as fact. Crosscheck sources, research authors to understand their lens, and read books on various topics that challenge your thinking and perspective. Education is the antidote to racism and oppression. We are all products of our experiences and what we’ve been exposed to. Expose yourself to knowledge.

5. Help people solve problems. We as a nation are only as strong as our weakest link. We all must be willing to examine our systems to ensure opportunities are equally accessible for all. As Americans, we are ALL on the same team and need the best of the best to excel in all avenues. We have to see problems and barriers to success as our common enemy and not one another.

Larry Dunivan of Namely

Larry Dunivan of Namely

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Authority Magazine

1. Educate yourself. I may not be a racist, but I have most definitely done (or not done) things that perpetuate policies and frameworks that have helped racism thrive. I recently finished reading “White Fragility” and “How to be an Antiracist.” I was dumbfounded by how little I understood the issue.

2. Open your mind. As a 60-year-old white man of privilege, I can’t possibly understand or appreciate what it means to experience racism. I am a gay man, so I have some secondary appreciation of some of the issues, but I’d still have to characterize myself as naive, to be sure.

3. Listen and ask for help. I am deeply grateful to our employee resource groups for their advice and counsel on what to do and how to do it.

4. Empathy rules the day. Before you can possibly appreciate what’s happening, you have to have truly acknowledged the feelings of others, and only through those expressions of empathy can the kinds of open conversations happen that will ultimately drive change. This was especially true the day after Rayshard Brooks’ death in Atlanta. We have a large facility in the city, and many of the employees there are Black. They needed to hear that we cared, that what happened was utterly unacceptable.

5. Commit to change with accountability. We published equality.namely.com as our commitment and we intend to revise it over time in partnership with our employees to drive long-term, systemic change.

Author Chelley Roy

Author Chelley Roy

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Authority Magazine

1. Inclusion. There is something special about inclusion, being a part of something, building something together. Everyone wants to feel a part of something and have that sense of “belonging,” sort of like a brotherhood/sisterhood. For example, every couple of months, I host a “Women, Conversation, and Cocktails,” where I include several area business owners, as well as aspiring business owners. This is a forum where we discuss challenges, as well as the perks of being a business owner as well as how to effectively navigate through the challenging start-up years.

2. Strategy. In an effort to execute or to be successful in life, you must develop a strategy or blueprint that spells out how you are going to get there and the steps involved to get there. For example: As part of being a fitness coach, in order to help my clients gain maximum results and confidence, not only do I have to guide them one on one with every step of coaching, but I develop strategies that will help them continue to be successful, such as developing and customizing meal plans, work out routines, etc.

3. Diversity. We have to be mindful and take into consideration the many different cultures that breed talent. For example, when trying to be innovative, creative, and think outside the box, many challenges arise. I believe in motivating and encouraging my clients and partners to be open-minded by thinking outside the box in an effort to find solutions to the many challenging issues we face today.

4. Representative. You have to brand yourself and live by a code of ethics, which is all we typically have as humans first, then businesswomen/men second. As a representative of ethics, it’s important to be honest and transparent no matter what you do. It’s important that my client, team, and partners trust me. For example, to build trust, you must exude high standards, morals, and ethics. The trust comes into play, when I value my partners on the same level as myself, I’m open, I listen, and I value their opinions no matter what when it comes to building, branding, strategy, etc.

5. Equitable society. In any industry, you never stop learning and educating yourself, what I mean by this is that, I oftentimes, find myself going to one of my many mentors, or my many other toolkits of resources for the answers sometimes, because I don’t always have them. You have to trust your community, your circle, your vested colleagues, and partners to discover and learn the most valuable best practices.

We must be transparent, open, and willing to not only be a voice but hear the voices of those who have a strong desire to be included or belong in such brother/sisterhoods. We have to be the voice when our society isn’t strong enough to be a voice. We have to be the blueprint for our culture and generation by demonstrating how to effectively build an innovative and creative, sustainable business from the ground up. As a coach, I mentor women who want to become entrepreneurs. But many are afraid of stepping into their greatness because they worry about being judged or not having the support of friends and family.

Ben Lamm, Hypergiant Industries

Ben Lamm, Hypergiant Industries

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Authority Magazine

1. Have discussions with people who are different than you. This means talking to people who have different opinions than you and talking to people about what those opinions mean. These discussions are not about proving you are right: They are about educating and informing yourself and others. Do a lot of that. You will also find those conversations are way more interesting than the same old conversations with the same like-minded people.

2. Every fight is worth it. If you feel like something is an issue, have the fight and get through it. Do not hide those emotions, do not push them down, and do not walk away from the problem. I am known for being someone who will have arguments with people in my office and this isn’t because I dislike them or think they are wrong. It is because I believe we need to have a steam valve for our anger. Fights help us work through things. We need to learn how to have them and then move past them. Conflict and friction are not bad things. Complacency is though. I cannot tell you how many arguments I have had that I felt convicted about but ultimately was wrong and left the conversation changed for the better and learning. I also promote having disagreements in my team and working through them.

3. Hire lots of people unlike yourself. You are you. That’s awesome but hire other people who are not just like you. These people bring new ideas, new talents, and new perspectives to the table for you to ingest. That’s important. Without a diverse group of people, you miss things. I have a number of employees in NYC. During the global health crisis, they were going through way different emotional and social issues than we were in Texas. Having them on the team meant I was able to see how things were happening across the country and problem-solve for our business in very different ways than if I just had a Texas only view on the crisis.

4. Push the envelope. It’s not enough to do whatever people are saying you should do today. Do one better. Figure out what other people need to do. Yes, we need to hire more diverse people. But, we also need to ensure our education systems are training more diverse hires and we need to ensure kids aren’t hungry so they can go to school and get good grades. And, to do that, we need to make sure that kids are taken care of in their homes and their communities. So, yes, we can hire more diverse people but also we need to do the work of the future and make sure we are creating a safe, more just, and better educated America.

5. Step down. If you are a business leader who does not think it is your job to create a better world for your employees and your community, step down. Don’t hide. Don’t think you can ride it out. Step up or step aside because the best business leaders aren’t the richest, they are the ones who run businesses that change the world.

Chioma Onwutalobi Brown of SCO Group

Chioma Onwutalobi Brown of SCO Group

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Authority Magazine

1. Equality. Champion equality, even in its lowest forms, and speak up whenever you see something that is unjust.

2. Empowerment. Empower marginalized groups so they can acquire the resources to build themselves up and attain a greater standing within society. This may include supporting organizations aimed at uplifting members of these groups, as well as spending/buying from these groups as well as spending/buying from these communities.

3. Education. Educate yourself and the people around you so that your interactions, attitudes, and behavior towards people from marginalized backgrounds are intentional and enlightened.

4 Communication. Integrate with these communities so that you fully understand their stories, cultures, and experiences.

5. Promotion. If you’re in a position to uplift others, be sure to promote and recommend individuals from underrepresented groups. This will go a long way towards leveling the playing field and ensuring equality of opportunity.

Rick Bratman of the Super Girl Pro Series

Rick Bratman of the Super Girl Pro Series

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Authority Magazine

1. Listen . Try to actively identify an issue by hearing what is important to others. We were producing action sports events for several years where women were primarily on the periphery. We spoke to many female athletes about their frustrations around having little to no voice or respect.

2. Think . Understand the circumstances and determine how you can help make a difference. Our platforms were events and content creation, so we wrestled with how we could use those assets to make a difference.

3. Plan . Devise a plan of action to institute change. We developed the idea behind the Super Girl Pro Series as a platform for the women in action sports and decided to commit both time and resources to the project.

4. Motivate . Inspire others to support your vision as nobody can make a significant change on their own. We spoke with hundreds of top athletes, brands, media partners, and venues about the idea and created a network of key partners to help us bring the whole Super Girl Pro Series concept to life.

5. Act . Be bold and take action. It took several years and considerable financial resources to actually execute the plan, but we committed to the venture (despite the high risks) because we knew it was incredibly important to lead by example.

Aditi Shekar of Zeta

Aditi Shekar of Zeta

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Authority Magazine

1. Bring on investors who will give you a representative POV. As I said above, I believe diversity starts at the cap table, and recruiting investors of color/women can be a powerful way to ensure you do this. I started by ear-marking at least 30 percent of my round for this type of investor. And then I made it known, to whoever was willing to help, that that was a key metric for me.

2. Make it part of your core business thesis. From my work in social entrepreneurship, one of the key takeaways was that impact should be tied to your business at its core. For example, Tom’s Shoes gave a shoe for every shoe they sold. Impact and revenue went hand in hand. Similarly, find a way to make a strong case for how diversity impacts your bottom line (and vice versa).

3. Pick a diversity metric and constantly measure it. There’s a famous quote by Peter Drucker that says “what gets measured gets managed.” Select a metric that makes sense for your organization and then create a cadence to measure it (regularity) and share it publicly (accountability).

4. Once you have a diverse team, obsess about how to help them thrive. Some advice I got early on was to find the areas where diversity typically breaks down (for example: pay gaps) and actively create systems to fight those biases. For example, in early-stage startups, there’s often not a formal process for compensation (and sometimes not even a clear pay scale). As such, forcing yourself to create one (even if you’re just creating it for yourself) is a good way to gut check the offers you’re making. Then create a cadence for everyone around promotions and bonuses so you give equal opportunity to everyone on your team rather than just the loudest voices.

5. Find people to hold you accountable. Sharing weak metrics might feel daunting or unproductive. Find a group of people who can hold you accountable, even if it’s behind closed doors. Just make sure they’re willing to ask you hard questions if you’re not performing against the goals you set.

Christie Lawler of CJL Consulting

Christie Lawler of CJL Consulting

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Authority Magazine

1. Ask questions . Don’t assume someone else in the room doesn’t have the answer you need. Ask questions that promote brainstorming and involvement from all stakeholders. Some of the best ideas are simply questions that have never been asked of the right person.

2. Honor ideas .  If a person is willing to share an idea, honor them by listening. For some, speaking up is the most terrifying of obstacles that they must overcome. So, if someone offers suggestions, thank them and see if it can work. The most brilliant mind in the room may be hidden by shyness.

3. Dig deeper . If you don’t immediately understand the thoughts or ideas, ask more questions. Work with the idea generator to flesh out the value within the proposition. Not every idea is brilliant, but working with others to brainstorm new solutions never has a downside.

4. Add value .  Before you speak, ask yourself if what you are about to say will add to or detract from the conversation. If you can’t answer that question, wait to speak. If you think your words could potentially hinder progress, then definitely don’t speak.

5. Respect others. Know that you don’t know everything and that others have different opinions and ideas because their experiences are different. Life molds our minds in a variety of ways. Understanding that your experience may not be the same as the person sitting next to you is half the battle to creating an inclusive environment where others feel safe to join.

Rita Kakati-Shah of Uma

Rita Kakati-Shah of Uma

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Authority Magazine

1. Pledge a solution. Whilst advocating for diversity and inclusion publicly is a start, just posting a black post on Instagram one day and going back to business-as-usual the next day won’t change anything. Demonstrate your actual commitment to ethnic minorities by changing your practices. Go out and support the minority groups you pledge to support. Start by actively seeking out businesses to partner with. Simply attending unconscious bias training is not enough. We all have unconscious biases. It’s a part of life. But how are we actually acting upon this knowledge, whether it’s unconscious bias, microaggressions or systemic bias? Each individual needs to digest, think about, then speak out about changing any structural inequalities they see at work.

2. Recognize privilege. Depending on where, how, and with whom we were raised, we all have different versions of privilege. Take time to listen to colleagues, ask questions, compare how your lives outside work differ. Only with active communication can privilege be understood and addressed.

3. See something. Say something. Allow your employees to speak up. Do your employees have the freedom to speak up and out about discrimination? About letting it be known how a certain comment or action came across? Simply put, your employees should be able to say something if they see something, in order to change something.

4. Overhaul your hiring practices. Ask who is making your hiring decisions? Are you marketing to attract diverse talent? How are you removing selection bias? You can start by removing names, education dates, and personal circumstance statements from resumes. Then do a diversity audit. Benchmark your progress. Report internally on pay differences between different ethnic groups, as is starting to happen with gender. Similarly, don’t ignore intersectionality. The same efforts made to promote equality based on one “difference” or “uniqueness” should be applied to others. So don’t allow race issues to be compounded by class, gender, and age.

5. Have cultural resources openly available to employees. This can encourage a consciously supportive culture for everyone. Be an advocate for mental health. Research shows that sexism, racism, social class, and income affect mental health. So create a supportive work environment to have open and honest conversations. You’d be surprised how sharing experiences can really open up your work community. Ask yourselves and your colleagues, what are you going to do to enact real change? Be part of the solution. Say something if you see something, in order to change something!

Andrea Sommer of UvvaLabs

Andrea Sommer of UvvaLabs

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Authority Magazine

Representation in leadership is extremely important since these are the ultimate positions of privilege. White men are in the most privileged position and therefore struggle to consider the needs of anyone but themselves. This results in exclusionary practices and products that leave out whole groups of people. Facial recognition technology is one example. This software has a notoriously difficult time recognizing Black faces. The problem here isn’t the technology  —  it’s the teams. All white male teams produce products that cater to their needs alone. But societies are changing. The United States, for example, will be majority-minority by 2044. This means customer groups are shifting. Smart organizations will get ahead of these shifts to create products and experiences that attract the most diverse amount of customers as possible. Only by having a diverse leadership team will a company build products that reflect that diversity.

1. Understand privilege and use it as a tool. The first step in creating a more just society is understanding privilege. Privilege creates and perpetuates the structures and norms that govern a society. At best, it makes barriers for underrepresented groups invisible to those in the most privileged positions. One example of this is when white people say ‘I don’t see race’. Not ‘seeing race’ is a luxury only privileged people have. People of color cannot ignore race because it dictates every aspect of their lives  —  from their interactions with colleagues at work, sales people in shops, or the police when out in the world (and sometimes in private spaces too), to everything in between. At its worst, privilege can be used as a weapon, as in the case of Amy Cooper threatening to call the police on Christian Cooper in Central Park because he asked her to leash her dog. Amy knew perfectly well her words could have had the power of life or death when she chose to say them. Her position as a white woman allowed her to weaponize her words. That is a privilege.

The good news is that the same power that allows privilege to be a weapon can be focused on turning it into a tool to halt white supremacy in its tracks. White people can use their voices and even their bodies as shields to protect people of color. I mean this quite literally. White people can physically stand in between Black people and the police during protests. They can speak up and take action when they see unfair comments and practices at work. And if they are in positions of power in addition to having privilege, they can use this power to change the structures that allow racism to persist.

2. Take every opportunity to raise people of color’s visibility. Have you ever been in a situation where you went somewhere new, maybe you’re starting a new job, or visiting a new town or maybe you took a wrong turn and ended up in an unfamiliar neighborhood full of people that are unlike you? That feeling of complete aloneness, of not fitting in, of fearing for your safety, is the feeling every person of color has when there is no adequate representation. Except that this feeling is constant; it never fades.

Building representation ensures that every person sees people like them in positions of power, everywhere they go. More importantly, representation changes structures by ensuring decision-making takes into account more than one type of person’s perspective.

The way to achieve representation is to hire people of color. Not just one token person, but many. And not just for junior positions, for the positions that really have influence  —  to sit on boards, to run companies and countries.

Many companies talk a great talk about diversity and inclusion but when you look at their leaders they are all white men. Representation cannot be lip service; it must be followed by action.

3. Find opportunities to transfer your privilege. When you hire more people of color you are also transferring power and resources, not just building representation. People of color have been systematically denied access to the positions of power that allow families to build wealth and privilege intergenerationally.

This can mean making sure people from underrepresented groups are picked for stretch assignments, promotions, and other opportunities for professional growth. It also means promoting minority authors, academics, scientists, and celebrities to ensure their voices are heard. It can also mean buying from black and other minority businesses. This must be active and continuous.

4. Dismantle structures that perpetuate racism. Structures govern our world. They dictate who gets hired through recruitment practices. They shape how funds get allocated through budgetary policies. They control election results by limiting who has access to polling stations. Many structures in American society are racist, in some cases by accident but most often by design.

Take recruitment practices for example. Many organizations believe that to build the right kind of culture they need to hire for ‘fit’. Usually ‘fit’ means people who are similar to the people who are already there. The end result is a team that looks all the same  —  usually white men. When this team in turn makes decisions, their thinking is limited by their privileged experience while excluding everyone else.

‘Fit’ is a false premise. It’s not important for everyone to be the same in an organization if you know how to support individuality. Smart organizations and leaders understand this.

The good news is that it is possible to dismantle these oppressive structures and replace them with ones that promote fairness, justice, and equality. It can be painful work because it requires facing our own privilege and the role that privilege has had in shaping groups, companies, countries. But facing this discomfort is a price worth paying to build a more just and equitable society. People in positions of privilege and power can use both of these to achieve just that. And they should.

5. Be relentless in your pursuit of oppression. As MLK famously said ‘Go everywhere where injustice goes’. Oppression can hide anywhere. To fight it, we must be relentless. We must vigorously understand privilege, we must dismantle structures, we must build representation and we must raise the profile of underrepresented groups and we must do this tirelessly and with conviction.

We must create structures that support this work for the long term. Structures are more powerful than one-time interventions because they provide continuity and continuity is essential for any of this to work.

Most importantly, we must get comfortable with discomfort. This work will be painful. It might feel unfair or embarrassing. But this discomfort is nothing compared to the oppressively constant discomfort that people of color face in navigating a world with rules designed to exclude them at every turn. We must embrace the discomfort and jump right in.

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