Promoting Social Justice Through Business - Sarah Dodds-Brown

Social inequalities have always been apparent to me, whether it is racial biases or lack of opportunities, and I see the impact of these social disparities every day. After the events of 2020, many in the world have taken greater notice of these century-old issues and have more intentional resolve to address them. Last December, The National Center for Law and Economic Justice awarded me their Corporation Counsel leadership award, and I was honored to support their work fighting against the criminalization of poverty and dedication to highlighting and making meaningful progress on civil rights issues.

I was recently featured in the Paul Weiss Alumni Bulletin discussing how businesses have taken greater initiative to promote equity and social justice.

Read my comments below.

“The events over the last year have laid bare how deeply rooted social inequality remains in our society. A positive development that I see coming out of the important conversations that have occurred during this time is that companies across industries and sectors are pairing their words with action. Many are showing up in a structured and sustained way when it comes to taking steps to effect lasting change within their organizations and for their employees and the communities they serve. Companies are making public commitments to invest in helping to create a more equitable and just society and are more willing to hold themselves accountable for achieving these commitments in a way that I don’t think we have seen previously. Some businesses are also using their voices to speak out and provide leadership on critical policy issues and having to navigate the sometimes competing views of board members, customers, employees and shareholders.

“At American Express, we’ve taken a proactive, enterprise approach to this work, which is ongoing and constantly evolving. Last year, we established the Office of Enterprise Inclusion, Diversity and Business Engagement, which reports to our CEO and is harnessing the collective resources of all our business groups to drive our DE&I strategy forward across six pillars: Brand, Culture, Colleague, Customer, Business and Community. We are not starting from scratch, as we’ve long been committed to having a diverse and inclusive culture, but we believe that to create enduring change, a holistic approach that addresses all the stakeholders we serve is critical. As part of this work, we announced a $1 billion action plan last October which includes a range of commitments over the next three years, including maintaining pay equity for colleagues; doubling our spending with diverse suppliers in the United States by the end of 2024; expanding access to capital and financial education to at least 250,000 Black-owned small- and medium-sized businesses; and providing $50 million in grants by the end of 2024 to nonprofits led by people of color or underrepresented groups. We believe this holistic approach will keep us focused on this important work, drive accountability for meeting our commitments and help us have a greater impact for our colleagues, customers and communities.”

Below the full bulletin, my story starts at page 4.

Sarah Dodds-Brown is a legal strategist who uses her field of expertise to influence business. She strives to thoughtfully challenge status quo thinking and widen the pipeline of professional talent to include more diverse and underrepresented candidates. Currently, she works as the Executive Vice President & Managing Counsel for Global Enterprise Services & U.S. Market at American Express.

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