Hochschild-Roger_Discover_21_SocialCapital "In the Black and brown communities, people are facing a two- or three-hour commute to jobs," says Roger Hochschild. Photo: Discover

“How am I an anti-racist? What am I doing proactively to bring more social justice?” This was the challenge Discover CEO Roger Hochschild took on for himself and his company a couple of years ago.

In an eye-opening, thought-provoking and business-challenging interview for our Social Capital section, Roger spends about 20 minutes sharing the amazing progress of his answer – from idea to fruition.

It was a presentation from Ibram X. Kendi that inspired introspection about hidden bias and its consequences that, he says, “got me and others at Discover thinking about systemic bias in our society, in particular about the corporate site-selection process.” And that’s where it starts, as Roger explains, even though those decision makers may not be overtly racist and purposely say, “As I think about where I want to put my new center or my new office building, I don’t want to go to Black and Brown communities.” Predicating the choice on finding a community with great infrastructure, the result is “in the Black and Brown communities, people are facing a two- or three-hour commute to jobs.”

Discover’s response? “We said, ‘You know what? We’re going to do our part to change that. We are only going to look in underinvested communities.’” And Discover opened a call center in Chatham, making good on its aim to specifically employ people in that community.

Employment is only the beginning of the benefit to the Chatham community, and others seem so obvious once Roger enumerates them – see if you’ve got the vision to figure it out or if you’re surprised as you listen.

And the benefit to Discover is part of why other companies are coming for tours of Discover’s Chatham facility.

“It’s a bit of a surprise to [other companies] sometimes, but we can back it up with real numbers,” Roger says, “and it does resonate. Because -- you think about the Great Resignation and how big an issue is turnover and hiring. And the point is, why wouldn’t you want to be somewhere where people haven’t seen as much opportunity, so you’re truly the employer of choice.”

Of course, Discover has made itself an employer of choice for other reasons as well, as we’ve recognized in previously honoring Roger as a Social Capital CEO. As Roger says, “We’re eager to share our story and help anyone else, because we all succeed together.” So, click on the link below, and tune in.