ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said the company will double its percentage of officers and directors who are Black by 2025.
Companies and other institutions have faced increasing pressure to take action on diversity efforts in the wake of events that have highlighted racial disparities in the country, including the police killings of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta and George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Delta has faced questions about its leadership committee’s lack of Black executives. That group of 11 top managers includes Bastian and other executives, including chief people officer Joanne Smith and chief information officer Rahul Samant.
“I have a responsibility to do a better job,” Bastian said on CNN recently. “I’m ashamed to say that, you know, I have not paid the level of attention to that component of the analysis. I need to own their advancement.”
The company has two Black people out of 12 on its board of directors — former energy executive Bill Easter and former Coca-Cola chief financial officer Kathy Waller. Bastian told employees the airline will also increase Black representation on its board of directors.
In a memo to employees Tuesday, Bastian said “we have been listening, learning and taking steps toward becoming an anti-racist, anti-discrimination organization.”
He wrote that people of color make up 43% of Delta’s employees, 35% of its leaders and 18% of the top 100 officers. People of color refers to employees who identify as non-white, which can include those who are Black, Latino, Asian or Asian American and others.
Black people in particular make up 21% of employees, 16% of leaders and 7% of the top 100 officers.
“That is not a picture of equity, nor is it reflective of the world we serve,” he wrote.
In the memo, Bastian said the company will require all hiring and interview panels to “reflect diversity,” expand recruiting to more historically black colleges and universities, and support legislation that fights discrimination.
He also said he would ensure Delta’s political contributions evaluate “a candidate’s ethics and commitment to working toward racial equality.”
And he said Delta would double its spending with Black-owned businesses by 2025, require bidding to include minority-owned business participation and evaluate contracts to ensure suppliers are held accountable for anti-racist policies within their organizations.