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Gannett fights systemic racism while creating a culture of belonging

By LaToya Johnson

Gannett Co., Inc.

McLean, Virginia, USA

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Inclusion has long been a priority for Gannett, guiding our policies, practices, and news coverage. Following recent events revealing America’s history of systemic racism and discrimination in our Black communities, we realised — like many companies — that our efforts weren’t nearly enough.

To drive positive and meaningful change in our communities — and to further support an extraordinary company culture where everyone can thrive — we needed to reimagine how we operate as a company. 

We decided to focus on three core areas:

  • Our workforce.
  • Our journalism.
  • Our resources.

To demonstrate our commitment to becoming a greater ally in the fight against systemic racism, racial injustice, and discrimination, we launched a dedicated Take Action Web site, detailing the actions Gannett is taking as a company.

Gannett's Take Action Web site outlines what the company is doing to fight systemic racism.
Gannett's Take Action Web site outlines what the company is doing to fight systemic racism.

Our workforce

We are committed to inclusion, diversity, and equity at all levels of our workforce and have concrete goals to measure our progress. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are growing in both size and number, and we’ve established a Diversity Advisory Council to provide leadership and guidance.

“Our goals have been truly accelerated, putting inclusion at the forefront of what we do as a company,” said Samantha Howland, chief people officer. “Ensuring an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workforce is a relentless focus. And while we know we have a long way to go, Gannett has the advantage of being truly united in this mission.”

Our journalism

We’ve developed enhanced training for our journalists on how to cover systemic racism and have held seminars to further educate our reporters and editors on racial issues. On usatoday.com, we launched a new hub, Race in America, to highlight our coverage on race and social justice.

Gannett's new hub highlights its coverage on race and social justice.
Gannett's new hub highlights its coverage on race and social justice.

Our resources

The Gannett Foundation is making direct grants, as well as matching employee donations, to non-profit organisations focused on racial equity. Gannett also supports the volunteer efforts of our employees by providing additional paid time off.

Holding ourselves accountable

In addition to the Take Action site, which outlines all the ways in which Gannett is committed to being an unwavering ally for Black Americans, we also wanted to ensure our organisation was inclusive of women, people of colour (including American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic or Latino; and Middle Eastern or North African backgrounds), LGBTQ+, those with differing abilities, those having military experience, and more underrepresented groups at every level of our workforce.

In understanding how critical it is that our organisation fits all people, we recognised an urgent need to be more transparent, both internally and externally.

In March, we released our first Inclusion Report, which outlines Gannett’s inclusion goals reaching into 2025, detailed workforce demographics, and provides an overview of specific, actionable steps our company will take to achieve them. This level of transparency holds us accountable to our employees, board of directors, shareholders, business partners, and the communities we serve. 

“We have annual targets and compensation incentives to ensure we’re moving forward swiftly on our journey of inclusion,” said Mike Reed, Gannett CEO. “To be successful, these efforts have to start with a company’s board of directors and executive leadership team and extend throughout the entire organisation. We are committed to better reflecting the communities we serve, at all levels of our organisation.”

Gaining momentum and recognition

Already our efforts are beginning to pay off. For the fourth year in a row, Gannett earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and was recognised as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” Gannett was also recognised for the second consecutive year as one of Forbes’ “Best Employers for Diversity.”

While we’re proud of these recognitions, we’re not satisfied by past accomplishments. This is an ongoing journey for us, and we will continue to evolve and cultivate a culture of inclusion and belonging.

About LaToya Johnson

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