AKRON—Call it what you will: social justice, equal opportunity or just being fair.
The deaths of Black Americans in some recent high-profile cases, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, have led to a sharper focus on race relations and opportunities in America. Amid this is the opportunity for the rubber industry to look at its own place in the movement.
"In my opinion, the implications of this 2020 social justice movement are affecting us all, and they've been brewing in our industry for years. One of those three pillars of sustainability is social sustainability, and that means, in part, fair wages and fair labor practices," said Colleen McMahan, a research chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Her comments came during a recent Livestream hosted by Rubber & Plastics News, in which the latex industry was the focus of discussion. While McMahan and colleagues talked about market conditions and the viability of alternative forms of natural latex, the conversation eventually moved toward opportunities for minorities.
"As part of the 2020 wake-up call, we must acknowledge that social justice means socio-economic justice. And that economic part happens when there are fair opportunities for all. The reason I got that opportunity and the reason I'm sitting here today is that in the 1980s, Goodyear Tire recruited women to meet their affirmative action obligations. And that's how I got in the door," McMahan said.