Championing Equitable Change: How 3Mers and community leaders are taking action
Sep 29, 2021

3M employees and partners are some of the most innovative and impassioned people you will meet. So much that when the world’s inequalities were raised to a monumental level that made many people ask, “what should I do,” 3Mers and community partners were quick to follow up with, “I have some ideas on how we can make a difference. I want to help make the world a better place.” These individuals are advocates for social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion who are going above and beyond, volunteering their extra time to join in the greater effort to making a difference for everyone.

While the long-lasting, equitable change we as a company want to make requires everyone to take part, it is important to take a moment to recognize the individuals who are influencing and leading the charge. Join us as we lift up the voices of those who are driving change and highlight what they are doing in partnership with 3M to create greater equity in our workplace, communities, and in our business practices.

We need to listen to all voices: Making an impact in our community

Pahoua Yang Hoffman, Senior Vice President of Community Impact at the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation, and Devinder Malhotra, Chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, are a part of a group of diverse leaders from the Twin Cities who form 3M’s Community Coalition. Engaging with the coalition from 3M’s side, is Garfield Bowen, 3M’s first vice president for social justice strategy and initiatives and Michael Stroik, vice president of community relations for 3Mgives. This group includes representatives from local government, nonprofits and the education sector to bring forward new voices and perspectives to advise on plans for equitable directing of 3M’s $50 million commitment to invest in the community and address racial opportunity gaps.

“When we think about systems, we think about other systems, but we don't necessarily think about the system in which we operate. I think companies should look inward. I think 3M has, and I want other companies to see that as an example of something they can do and to support our community leaders. We all need to be involved and each one of us has a role to play.” – Pahoua

“If we don’t create a seat at the table for folks who are a reflection of our communities and our customers, then we’re not going to win the day. Our business isn’t going to grow. So it’s imperative for us to ensure that we are driving toward that goal, to double our representation in our organization, and then ensure that other infrastructure that’s needed to enable and support that is also in place.” – Garfield

We need to talk about race and racism: Bringing racial inclusion advocacy conversations to 3M

Charlene Vance, U.S. and Canada Customer Operations Leader at 3M, and Erika Brant, Diversity and Inclusion Director at 3M, worked with an external consultant, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, to create the racial inclusion advocacy program, which aims to help facilitate conversations with teams of employees around the company to talk about race, racism and its impact in the workplace. The discussions are not only creating a space for tough conversations, they are also helping employees discover how they can contribute to, and advocate for, a more inclusive environment for everyone. 

“What I really love about 3M is how we’ve embraced being part of that change that we want to be. And stepping up, not only internally within the company and creating a culture that everybody now feels more empowered to speak their truth, but also externally showing up in the community to help long-term sustainable change.” – Charlene

“It’s something that people are not used to, and certainly not used to talking about in the workplace. It starts with creating a safe space for people to feel they can bring their stories forward and to listen to and hear each other. That feels more candid, more authentic than just doing the work that’s in your inbox.” – Erika

We need to be role models: Creating 5 million STEM and skill trades learning experiences

Cristina Thomas, Global R&D Services Director at 3M, and Jackie Berry, 3Mgives Global Communications Manager, are helping 3M achieve a new global, education-focused goal to advance economic equity by creating five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025. This is meant to inspire and support future generations of innovators and scientists to seek out careers in STEM and Skilled Trades.

“I feel a big responsibility to contribute to society. I’ve been given the opportunity to have a wonderful career. I was in a second-grade class doing a 3M Visiting Wizard hands-on demonstration when, almost at the end of the visit, one girl pulled my clothes and said, ‘I want to be a scientist.’ That made my day, made my week, and still makes it today.” – Cristina

“What we’re trying to do in 3Mgives is create as many STEM learning experiences as absolutely possible so that students can find their way and they can find that space where they’re really interested in something and hopefully end up pursuing it to become the next scientist.” – Jackie

We need to say “yes”: Driving change through representation and education

Scott Morris, Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategist at 3M is advocating for education and workforce development through 3M’s investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Earlier in 2021, 3M gifted $5 million to UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and $2.1 million to North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University in support of their Equity and Education Initiative (E²I) – a new four-year program aimed at increasing the number of African American college graduates securing careers in fields critical to the nation’s workforce.

"There were so many reasons to end with ‘no, we love the proposal, but we cannot commit to it.’  And my challenge to our key stakeholders was, ‘why would we say yes?’ As we started to explore  ‘why say yes’ our mindsets changed and the proposal was transformed.” – Scott

We need to address health disparities: Prioritizing social justice within 3M’s business groups

As part of creating greater equity in our business practices, 3M is setting goals within each of our business groups. Taken together, these goals address fundamental needs around health, safety, education and equity to support the community ecosystem where families live, work and learn. Anila Prabhu, Vice President Sustainability & Inclusion Champion, Heath Care Business at 3M, works within the Health Care business group to identify ways in which 3M can address health disparities, work toward health equity, and increase health care access for all through increasing awareness about social determinants of health, partnerships with local organizations working on heath equity, and addressing their needs through 3M and health care business capabilities.

“Health care disparities are prevalent in the world. They are prevalent in developed countries like the United States and Canada. They are prevalent in emerging economies like Brazil and India. To address these health care disparities, we need a systems approach and the combined effort of health care systems, industry, government, NGOs, community-based organizations, community leaders and academia. Everyone has to do their part and together we can make a difference.” – Anila

We need to lift each other up: Advocating through Employee Resource Networks

Marlene Lopez Ibarra, Director - Lean Six Sigma MBB, SIBG- Personal Safety Division and Latino Resource Network Chair, and Omar Williams, Area Business Leader for Precision Grinding & Finishing in US & Canada, African American Network Chair, work with other 3M stakeholders to assess local organizations, with a focus on advancing racial equity, to select groups to receive grants from 3M’s recently established Social Justice Fund. They also work with their Employee Resource Networks to continue advancing representation of Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino individuals from entry-level to senior management.

“I would say employee resource networks are getting a new visibility and a new perspective at 3M. We started the CEO Inclusion Council so the CEO and some of the members of the executive board could hear the voices of all the employee resource networks. So that became a place to bring ideas of what we’re seeing as that community, how we can impact the culture at 3M.” – Marlene

“When URG employees are recognized and specific programming is provided to advance them, then they show up as their best selves every day. In 2021, AAN focused on programming focused on elevating our voices, celebrating our excellence and supporting our development.” – Omar

Check out to get to know more about 3M’s commitments toward creating greater equity in our workplaces, communities and business practices. And look to 3M’s News Center in the upcoming weeks for more information on 3M’s equity-focused initiatives and the people behind them.

Other Topics

Contact Media Relations

Contact Media Email

These contacts are intended only for the media. If you are not a member of the media, please call 1-888-3M HELPS (1-888-364-3577).

We will get back to you within one business day.

Email Alerts

Subscribe to receive automatic updates via email for 3M news & stories.