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Four local CEOs sign diversity pledge [Video]

Margie Manning



The top executives at some of the largest companies in the Tampa Bay area are part of a coalition of chief executives trying to get more corporate boards to create diversity plans at U.S. companies.

The local leaders who agreed to commit to annually doing a diversity and inclusion strategic plan are Paul Reilly, CEO of Raymond James Financial Inc. (NYSE: RJF) in St. Petersburg; Ken Burdick, CEO of WellCare Health Plans Inc. (NYSE: WCG) in Tampa; and Pat O’Conner, CEO of Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, according to CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion. Welbilt Inc. (NYSE: WBT) in New Port Richey also is part of the group, although the CEO’s name is not listed on the coalition’s website.

There’s a wide range of practices at the 650 companies nationwide that have committed to sign up for the pledge, said Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman for PwC and chair of the steering committee for CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion. So instead of setting specific targets, the two-year-old organization is setting broad commitments while moving at its own pace, Ryan said in an interview on CNBC’s SquawkBox. (See the full interview below.)

“If we get inclusion to be more of a reality, we all win, not only our businesses, but society overall,” Ryan said.

Investors look for diverse and inclusive companies, said John Rogers, chairman, CEO, and CIO of Ariel Investments.

“We want to invest in 21st century companies that are growing,” Rogers told Squawk Box. “If their management teams, their boards, look like 1940s companies, we can’t invest in those types of companies. It means they’re backward-looking, not forward-thinkers.”

The group previously has asked CEOs to commit to making workplaces trusting places to have difficult conversations about diversity, to implement and expand education surrounding unconscious bias, and to share both best and unsuccessful practices.

How one advocacy group has pledged to expand diversity in business from CNBC.


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