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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ | Day of Understanding

Entered in Social Good Campaign


In Sept. 2018 PwC was grieving following the shooting death of 26 year-old Black professional Botham Jean by an off-duty police officer. In the wake of this and other public tragedies, PwC recognized it was not alone in the experience of shock and sadness. Leveraging its role as a founding signatory and Steering Committee chair for CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ - the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion revolving around three key actions, including the need for these complex conversations - PwC led the creation of the coalition's first collective day of conversations around unconscious bias and other issues

Bo's death and the ongoing issues in communities around the country – from racial tensions to shootings to gender issues to conversations around individuals with disabilities – underscore that issues connected to unconscious bias exist and we must make greater efforts to recognize biases and change our behaviors.

The objective was to see engagement by 25% of the coalition signatories (at the time there were around 550 signatories resulting in a participation target of approx. 138 organizations), generate positive media coverage of the coalition's collective action, and share positive experiences from signatory employees via social media.

Strategy and Execution

The plan consisted of inviting every CEO Action signatory organization to take a bold action and host conversations, on or around December 7, 2018 – called a Day of Understanding – within each of their respective locations in order to further embrace the differences within their organizations, educate their people and build more inclusive cultures.

While some organizations have held conversations like this before, the CEO Action Steering Committee recognized that this type of conversation may not have occurred previously within every signatory organization. Therefore, the Steering Committee committed to:

●Creating a full suite of resources to help signatory organizations facilitate the sessions – at no cost. These resources included unconscious bias training materials, how to facilitate courageous conversations, and personal facilitators (for the sessions).

●Working with signatory organizations to help shape discussions and customize sessions to what would be most effective for their organizational culture.

In addition to session resources, CEO Action developed and released a PR and social media toolkit to align internal communications to employees and encourage unified social media activities on LinkedIn and Twitter around this unique moment in time. Components included messaging, graphics, sample post and instructions on how to join the conversation leveraging the hashtags #DayofUnderstanding and #IActOn.

After finalizing the plans, PwC developed an email invitation with a survey as an intake system for requests for resources, and finalized the materials that would be shared with every coalition signatory, which included three workshops that could be done in a series or as standalone discussions:

●Workshop #1: Blind Spots/Unconscious Bias

●Workshop #2: Facilitating a Conversation of Understanding

●Workshop #3: Exploring Blind Spots to Build Understanding

●Facilitator Guide

Within one month, signatory CEOs were invited to participate in CEO Action's first Day of Understanding. Working with teams from more than 150 organizations that responded to the invitation, PwC staffed individual planning calls to support each event, determining if a facilitator was required, recommendations on how to tailor the materials or event date recognizing various observances, and all-hands calls to discuss social media and press activities.


In total, more than 615,000 employees from 150+ CEO Action signatory organizations in more than 1,000 US and international locations participated in candid conversations about unconscious bias and other diversity and inclusion topics.

More than 50 signatory organizations confirmed leveraging CEO Action's free resources and facilitators and more than 40 signatory organizations and influencers, including rap artist Common, shared posts about the Day of Understanding and CEO Action's I Act On pledge, which is a personal pledge that any individual can take as a key call to action following the dialogues. Common's post drove 46% of the website traffic, directing followers to the individual pledge page.

The Day of Understanding received national media attention and organizations leveraged the template materials, driving more than 12K impressions and more than 50 signatory organizations and employees shared content on social channels using the hashtags #DayofUnderstanding and #IActOn.

Additional social examples include:

●WP Engine blog: WP Engine Participates In The Day Of Understanding

●Cisco blog: Coming Together for a Day of Understanding

●Clorox blog: Clorox Joins Day of Understanding; Holds Real Conversations About Inclusion and Diversity

●Tyson Food blog: Creating a Culture of Belonging for Day of Understanding

●Bloomberg, PwC Chairman Urges 500 CEOs to Talk About Diversity on Same Day.

●Essence, Black CEOs Join Pledge For Workplace Diversity, Inclusion


PVH Instagram video

Day of Understanding facilitator Instagram carousel

San Diego Gas and Electric Instagram carousel


CEO Action

Clorox Company


Tim Ryan, PwC US Chairman and senior partner

Celeste Warren, Merck Vice President, Human Resources and Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence


Entrant Company / Organization Name

CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, PwC