Column: How Corporate America Can Go Beyond Lip Service and Help Foster Change
Image by Tania Volosianko/ Shutterstock

Since the widespread protests against police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others — large-scale public conversations have followed. Many companies have shared statements expressing their condolences to and solidarity with their Black employees and customers, and outlining their commitment to fighting racism.


Many of these statements have been welcome, with leaders sharing heartfelt personal sentiments that have hit the right notes, while others have been less well-received, with critics pointing out their uniformity and arbitrary tone.

Eyana Carballo is the manager of global commercial strategy & IP at BCG Digital Ventures.

But no matter how strong or wanting these statements have been, they mean very little without a concrete commitment to tangible steps that companies can enact. Now that the words have been shared, it's time for companies and leaders to walk the talk.

So, what can companies do?

Expand Diversity Networks

Enabling employees to work to bolster internal networks is an integral part of making sure their voices are heard. These networks can drive real change, helping to raise issues and set priorities and, in turn, to be heard by leadership. They can be vessels for mutual support, mentorship, and representation.

Invest and Donate

One obvious way companies can take action that backs up their words is by contributing financially. Consistent donations to causes such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund or the Southern Poverty Law Center are valuable, giving them the resources they need to affect positive change. But companies can also invest other resources, such as talent; partnerships with leading organizations that address racial injustice and inequality are extremely valuable for all parties.


Apply Metrics and Foster Accountability

Without a clear view of what's happening, it's difficult for companies to affect positive change or even decide on what that change might look like. Honing in on the current status quo and what 'good' would look like, in terms of internal diversity but also the external impact of work, enables companies to move in a positive direction and assess success, bolstering accountability in the process.

One aspect of this is a commitment to accelerating representation, which encompasses driving retention parity, increasing representation in leadership and educating leaders and staff. Metrics, whether internal and external, can be the levers which drive this and ensure tangible and lasting impact.

Each company will have its own set of circumstances, its own state of play, and different work that needs to be done. But now that these issues have been raised, we need to make sure that they do everything they can, starting with the initiatives above, to really support Black employees and the wider Black community, moving beyond spoken sentiments to actively making the world a more equitable place.

Eyana Carballo is the manager of global commercial strategy & IP at BCG Digital Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Boston Consulting Group.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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