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I recently blogged about whether your company’s DEI efforts go beyond the surface, where I unpack ways employers can take DEI action that surpass the performative gestures often seen during trending DEI-related holidays or observations like Juneteenth or Pride month. I encouraged companies to commit to authentic action over surface level gestures. Edelman recently published a study that reveals how people feel about employers’ response to racial justice issues and the message is loud and clear: they don’t believe employers are taking adequate action on racial justice.

The study surveyed two thousand respondents from a mix of racial and gender backgrounds, a variety age ranges, political party affiliations and US regions. The surveys were conducted after widely publicized acts of violence against people of color in the United States starting in 2020 to 2022, starting with the murder of George Floyd.

There were 4 main conclusions:

  1. Action earns trust: The majority of Americans under the age of 55 will support or avoid companies and employers based on their racism response and culture of inclusion
  2. Empower and embed DEI across operations: Employers must set clear DEI commitments, allocate resources, and provide support, access and visibility to DEI leaders
  3. CEO must show personal commitment: The CEO must set the tone and demonstrate a personal commitment to get educated and systemic racism, and to create accountability and action.
  4. Drive structure and culture change: Go beyond the words to show measurable progress on representation, create an inclusive workplace culture and enforce zero tolerance of discrimination

This survey reveals the desire of people to see employers go beyond DEI and into Racial Justice action. This means establishing a deeper individual and company commitment to rooting out racism where it shows up. It’s important to understand that racial justice action calls for anti-racism stance and action – distinct from, but related to DEI work.

DEI work is foundational work to help organizations increase the diversity of their workforce, the equity of their processes and outcomes, and the inclusivity of their culture for historically underrepresented and marginalized communities. Racial justice action takes it a step further by recognizing truths about society’s historical and current racial inequity and requires personal accountability and explicit commitment from companies in their approach to eradicating racism internally and within the communities they serve. Our second DEI workshop with special guests Laura Murphy and former Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this year dives into this in detail and discusses civil rights audits as a way that companies that step into racial justice work.

To ensure that your company addresses racial justice issues in ways that resonate with your current and emerging workforce, visit PracticalESG’s suite of DEI checklists, including our robust checklist on Using DEI Data for Goal-Setting and Reporting.

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The Editor

Ngozi Okeh is an experienced leader with a history of driving efforts to conceptualize, define, assess and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as strategic business processes. Ngozi is currently the Director of DEI at a leading marketing technology company where she develops and executes enterprise-wide DEI initiatives through rigorous strategic planning efforts, community partnerships, leadership collaboration, strategy evaluation, and careful management of communication and buy-in as well as policies and procedures.  Previously, she worked at an independent mortgage bank, where… View Profile