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For the final breakout session of BenefitsPRO Virtual Broker Expo, the gloves truly came off.

Marlin Woods, executive chairman of BenefitsPlus, was the host of “All Gloves Are Off—Bridging the Gap of Opportunity and Race.” It was an occasion for a wide-ranging discussion covering American history, the C-suite (or the “PC-suite,” as panelist Chris Dancy quipped), and the inherent racism in your GPS. “These are discussions that lead to a place of reflection and also solution,” Woods began, setting the tone for a conversation that would reveal “where we are, where we’re headed, how to move forward with an awareness of personal accountability, and what an industry of access looks like to young potentials seeking opportunity.”

Related: The long, hard road to improving diversity in the benefits industry

“Most of us never even think, ‘Hey, if America really wasn’t established until 1776, what happened in all of that time?’” said Timotheus Pope, director of Citikidz Christian Sports Camp, before taking the session on a history lesson through those intervening years and beyond, making stops at the First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1609;  the arrival of African slaves to Jamestown in 1619; Jim Crow in 1870; the murder of Emmett Till in 1955; up to the present day with George Floyd. “We got here as people used the institution of racism to create a cultural racism that now manifests itself personally,” summarized Pope. ”And it affects every arena, including business – and benefits.

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.

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