Fighting systemic racism: 56 companies form global coalition to bring racial justice to the workplace

Published
25 Jan 2021

A new initiative supported by 56 corporate leaders aims to set new global standards for racial and ethnic justice in business.

The impact.

Global companies are increasingly taking up their role as responsible trustees of society and investing in actions for racial and ethnic equity in the workplace – not as an option but as a business imperative.

The World Economic Forum has convened a coalition of global corporations and their C-suite leaders committed to building equitable and just workplaces for professionals with underrepresented racial and ethnic identities.

Partnering for Racial Justice in Business as a global initiative, launched today Monday 25 January, during The Davos Agenda 2021, is focused on eradicating all strands of racism in the workplace against professionals with underrepresented racial and ethnic identities.

“This initiative is an important step in helping accountable business leaders do more to change the foundational systems that interfere with achieving equity. Kaiser Permanente is taking bold actions within our organization to evolve and advance our equity, diversity and inclusion strategy, and we look forward to being part of this coalition both to help its work and learn from others.”

Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO

What's the challenge?

Professionals of colour and minority ethnic backgrounds continue to face racial injustice and inequity in the workplace, and they have been severely underrepresented in leadership. There have only been 15 Black CEOs over the course of the 62 years of the Fortune 500’s existence, and currently only 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black. Below the top level, Black employees form approximately only 4.7% of executive team members in the Fortune 100 and 6.7% of the 16.2 million managerial level jobs.

Our approach.

To drive systemic and sustainable change towards racial justice, this initiative has been designed to operationalize and coordinate commitments to eradicate racism in the workplace and set new global standards for racial equity in business. It also provides a platform for businesses to collectively advocate for inclusive policy change.

The Forum unveiled the Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative with 56 founding partner organizations representing 13 industries, with more than 6.5 million employees worldwide. The companies which have committed to building more equitable and just workplaces are: A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S, AlixPartners, AstraZeneca, Bain & Company, Bank of America, BlackRock, Bloomberg, Boston Consulting Group, Bridgewater Associates, Capgemini, Centene, Cisco, Cognizant, Credit Suisse, Dentsu International, Deutsche Bank, EY, Facebook, Google, H&M Group, HSBC, Henry Schein, HP, IBM, Infosys, Ingka Group (IKEA), Jacobs Engineering Group, Jefferson Health, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, Kearney, KPMG, LinkedIn, ManpowerGroup, Mastercard, Mayo Clinic, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Nestlé, PayPal, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, PwC, Salesforce, SAP, Sony Music Group, Standard Chartered Bank, Tata Consultancy Services, The Coca-Cola Company, The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Uber Technologies, Unilever, UPS, Willis Towers Watson, and Wipro.

One of the initiative’s starting points will be Black inclusion and addressing anti-Blackness. A broad-brush approach to racism fails to grasp its effects on different under-represented groups. Anti-Black racism is historically one of the most pervasive forms of racism. As such, a targeted and specific approach to tackle it in the workplace is required. As the initiative evolves, it will seek to increase the visibility of racially and ethnically diverse leaders throughout industries, and expand its focus to include additional racial and ethnic groups.

“With just 1% of Fortune 500 companies led by Black CEOs, the need to tackle racial under-representation in business is urgent and obvious. To design racially and ethnically just workplaces, companies must confront racism at a systemic level, addressing not just the structural and social mechanics of their own organizations but also the role they play in their communities and the economy at large.”

Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum

How can you get involved?

Companies that commit to joining the partnership do so by taking three steps:

• Put racial and ethnic equity on the board agenda
• Make at least one firm commitment towards racial and ethnic justice in their organization
• Set a long-term strategy to become an anti-racist organization

The initiative originates from the World Economic Forum’s New Economy and Society Platform, which is focused on building prosperous, inclusive and just economies and societies. In addition to its work on economic growth, revival and transformation, work, wages and job creation, and education, skills and learning, the Platform takes an integrated and holistic approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and aims to tackle exclusion, bias and discrimination related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity.

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