Corporate Leadership: 3M Foundation

Corporate Leadership: 3M Foundation

In 2020, Maplewood-based 3M Co. implemented a multifaceted approach to address systemic challenges faced by people from historically marginalized populations, focusing particularly on the Twin Cities’ Black and Hispanic communities. That approach inspired several new company initiatives, which were created by listening closely to these communities, then collaborating with them to develop solutions.

Social Justice Fund

In the wake of George Floyd’s death in May 2020, the 3M Foundation established a Social Justice Fund of $1 million. In establishing the fund, the foundation worked with a team of diverse 3M stakeholders, including employee resource networks, which are employee-led groups that champion inclusion and diversity, support leadership development, and promote collaboration across cultures, lifestyles, abilities, and genders. This team ultimately selected four St. Paul organizations to receive the grant funds: the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Neighborhood Justice Center, the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing, and YWCA St. Paul.

Major hires

This past July, 3M hired Garfield Bowen as its first director of social justice strategy and initiatives. Since then, 3M has deployed nine project teams, comprising more than 90
individuals, to work on aspects of the company’s social justice agenda.

In December, 3M named James Momon its first chief equity officer, to oversee the equity and community team. The new corporate leadership structure brings together three 3M teams—diversity, equity and inclusion; 3Mgives; and social justice—to address social issues.

Both the teams and this new organizational structure will help 3M amplify efforts to drive equity in its workplaces, its business practices, and the communities in which it has a presence.

Creating opportunity

In September, 3M Chairman and CEO Mike Roman announced a $50 million philanthropic commitment over the next five years aimed at addressing racial opportunity gaps through workforce development initiatives. 3M assembled a group of diverse leaders and organizers from the education, government, and nonprofit sectors to provide guidance. The coalition is helping 3M identify partnerships and opportunities to advance social justice and racial equity, focusing specifically on STEM and skilled trades.

“Progress requires us all to stand up as advocates for racial inclusion and social justice,” Roman says of his company’s equity efforts. “3M will bring our science, our innovation, our volunteerism, and our business rigor to these challenges.”

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