The founders of the Detroit Equity Report, Inc., an initiative first envisioned several years ago by Bishop Edgar L. Vann, today announced that Wayne State University will add its academic expertise to the burgeoning social justice program, which aims to help metro Detroit businesses foster greater racial equity in their ranks.
The Detroit Equity Report seeks to gather data from companies in the metro Detroit region about the levels of diversity throughout their organizations, including the C-suites and governance levels. This data will be used by the organizations to help promote the empowerment and advancement of African Americans and other people of color in corporate America. The collaborative effort also is being backed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and others.
“I am thrilled to have Wayne State University bring its analytical expertise to this endeavor,” said Vann, senior pastor of Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit. “Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson, a man of integrity and passionate commitment to social justice, immediately assembled a high-level team of academic experts to join us in this mission. We are particularly gratified that Peter Hammer, director of the Damon Keith Center for Civil Rights, will lead the Wayne State team. I have no doubt Damon Keith would be in full support of these efforts.”
In addition to providing academic and analytical support, WSU will help raise funds to support the project.
The collaboration marks the next phase for the Detroit Equity Report, which was established three years ago by Vann as a way of understanding and ameliorating racial inequity in business. Attorney Bertram L. Marks joined with Vann in the early stages of the development and formation of the Detroit Equity Report. Marks was the principal architect of creating the legal structure of the non-profit corporation, and he remains as an officer and Chief Legal Counsel to the organization.
“This effort didn’t begin with the brutal killing of George Floyd, though that terrible event once again underscores the need for immediate change,” said Vann. “We have been working toward this for several years and partnering with Wayne State is the next natural phase.”
The collaboration with Wayne State is envisioned as an objective, data-driven approach to working in concert with companies to improve diversity and provide greater opportunities for people of color.
“I enthusiastically extend my support for the Detroit Equity Report, Inc.,” said Wilson. “The business community can play an important role in helping build a more equitable future, if given the insight and tools to do so. That’s where Wayne State can help. Success for this project starts with insight and understanding, and that requires gathering and analyzing data. We are delighted to lend our expertise to building upon Bishop Vann’s vision.”
The partnership will be centered at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, which is housed at the Wayne State Law School. Kurt Metzger, a noted data analyst who currently serves as the mayor of Pleasant Ridge, Mich., a Detroit suburb, will act as the primary researcher for the project.
Mayor Duggan hailed the partnership with the Detroit Equity Report as a critically needed approach to attacking racial inequality.
“The City of Detroit fully supports this effort and will be a participant in reviewing the City’s own processes as well as sharing data across the community,” said Duggan in a statement. “We thank Bishop Vann for leading this important initiative and look forward to a tool that can make our community more equitable for all our residents.”