Washington Business Journal Names Booz Allen CEO Horacio Rozanski a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion
“When you empower people to reach their full potential, you are doing the right thing and the organization benefits as a whole. I think I’m living proof of that.” - Booz Allen CEO Horacio Rozanski
This year has been full of unprecedented events requiring extraordinary leadership. On December 11, the Washington Business Journal recognized seven executives that made exceptional contributions to the D.C. region in 2020, setting a new standard that helped carry the community forward. The awardees included Booz Allen CEO Horacio Rozanski as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion of the Year in honor of his commitment to advancing racial and social equity both inside Booz Allen and beyond.
Rallying in times of crisis, responding to a call to action
Booz Allen has long been a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. In 2019, the firm celebrated the 20th anniversary of its GLOBE+ business resource group (BRG) for LGBTQ+ employees, and in 2020, its sixth year with a perfect score in the Disability Equality Index and tenth year with a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
But this year required a different, urgent call to action. After the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Rozanski wrote an open letter reaffirming Booz Allen’s commitment to social justice and encouraging employees to share their personal experiences and thoughts on how to take action as a firm. The response was powerful.
“I will never forget, as long as I live, sitting at home, reading story after story. I think for all of us, it was a transformational moment and a rallying cry,” said Rozanski in an interview with the Washington Business Journal.
These employee responses helped shape a renewed DEI commitment for Booz Allen, outlined in a six-pillar Race and Social Equity Agenda that includes conducting an independent review of business practices; increasing representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color at all levels of the firm; increasing personal time and space for reflection and mental health; and using its voice and capabilities to advance racial and social equity and amplify the voices of others, among other initiatives.
The agenda also includes making race and social equity a major element of corporate philanthropy. In the fall, Booz Allen launched a Race and Social Equity Employee Giving Campaign to support the Black community and historically marginalized populations via partnerships with The Equal Justice Initiative, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Year Up, and Black Girls CODE, raising more than half a million dollars including matching contributions from the firm.
“This is something we have never done before, publicly committing to an agenda for change to improve race and social equity both inside and outside our firm. From a complete reexamination of our business practices to a reimagination of how we do philanthropy at Booz Allen, everything is on the table,” said Rozanski in his acceptance speech. “The work is underway, and I am excited by the insights we're gaining, the progress we're beginning to make, and the journey that we’re on.”
Taking a leading company to the next level
Additionally under Rozanski’s tenure, the firm has reached milestones such as achieving industry-leading diversity among its board of directors and executive leadership team and launching Unstoppable Together, a global, employee-led DEI signature program designed to humanize the challenges faced by today’s workforce. The program engaged more than 3,000 employees during the last fiscal year, with more than 94 percent of participants saying the experience increased their sense of belonging at Booz Allen.
The firm also continues to evolve and expand its BRGs for women, military-affiliated employees, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, as well as employees with dedicated networks for its Latin American, African American, Asian Pacific American, Middle East and North African, and Native American employee populations.
Learning—and sharing—the power of “bringing your whole self to work”
At Booz Allen, employees are encouraged to bring the full scope of their lives, experiences, and expertise to work—an approach that Rozanski, who grew up in Argentina and started his career as an intern in the firm’s Buenos Aires office, said he had to learn for himself as he took on different roles with the firm.
“As an immigrant, one of the things you do is you look to blend in… I frankly had to be educated on the importance of bringing your whole self to work,” he told the Washington Business Journal. “I discovered when I did, work was more fun. It was liberating and as a leader, people follow you if they know who you are.”
Looking to 2021 and beyond, Rozanski says Booz Allen’s people are the reason for his optimism about the journey ahead.
“To my Booz Allen colleagues, I want to say, keep driving forward,” said Rozanski in his closing remarks. “Because if 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that we can accomplish anything and everything if we do it together.”