What You’ll Learn
- Research from leading organizations like Mercer, McKinsey, and Edelman
- Consumers expect brands to take a stand on social injustice
- Progress toward building inclusive workplaces remains slow
In the wake of protests for police reform, the floodgates have opened to a painful discussion we’ve kept putting off for decades. We’re finally talking about racial injustice and inequity in our society.
It started with the coronavirus. The pandemic brought into sharper focus the disparities that have always existed – and largely ignored.
As The Brookings Institute recently wrote, “Race gaps in vulnerability to COVID-19 highlight the accumulated, intersecting inequities facing Americans of color (but especially Black people) in jobs, housing, education, criminal justice – and in health.” The most vulnerable were already suffering the worst. Then came one senseless death after another at the hands of law enforcement.
Now, we’re confronting difficult questions about how to move forward.
Part of that conversation is not about if the corporate community has failed Black America, but how it can help lead change. We’re seeing some serious soul-searching among businesses about if they are meeting their stated values.
Programs for diversity and inclusion are not new. One 2003 study estimated that companies then were already spending $8 billion a year on diversity initiatives. But you can’t buy inclusion. Progress has been slow on well-meaning efforts to level the employment scales for race, gender, and the LGBTQ community.
The numbers we’ve compiled here are stark. But you’ll also see there are some hopeful signs in the recent survey findings. Either way, it’s always good to understand the terrain you’re traveling on a long journey.
And some hard miles remain ahead for all of us.
Race and COVID-19
- Black Americans are almost twice as likely to live in places where the pandemic will cause outsized disruption. Source: McKinsey
- Black Americans are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, in part because they are overrepresented on the front lines, comprising 20 percent of workers in low-wage, high-contact, essential jobs such as healthcare, retail, and government services – and are less likely to have access to testing. Source: McKinsey
- According to CDC data, the age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate for African Americans is 3.6 times higher than for whites, and the age-adjusted death rate for Hispanic/Latino people is 2.5 times higher than for whites. Source: The Brookings Institution
- 11 percent of Black Americans say they were close with someone who has died from the coronavirus, compared with 5 percent of Americans overall and 4 percent of white Americans. Source: NBC News
- An Associated Press analysis of data from state and local health departments nationwide found that more than a quarter of all COVID-related deaths nationwide have been Black victims — nearly double the share of the Black population in the areas sampled. Source: NBC News
- More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March after the outbreak hit the U.S. While the numbers have begun to improve for white workers (falling from 14.2 percent to 12.4 percent), Black unemployment rose slightly (from 16.7 percent to 16.8 percent.) Source: CNBC
- 39 percent of all jobs held by Black Americans – compared with 34 percent by white ones – are now threatened by reductions in hours or pay, temporary furloughs, or permanent layoffs. Source: McKinsey
Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
- 81 percent of organizations globally report that improving diversity and inclusion is high on their agenda. Source: Mercer’s Let’s Get Real About Equality report
- Less than half (42 percent) of U.S. organizations publicly document commitments to racial or ethnic equality. Source: Mercer’s Let’s Get Real About Equality report
- 57 percent of senior executives are actively engaged in diversity and inclusion initiatives. Source: Mercer’s Let’s Get Real About Equality report
- 79 percent of organizations say that women have access to the roles that are more likely to lead to advancement into leadership. But only 52 percent of organizations say women are equally represented in people-manager positions. Source: Mercer’s Let’s Get Real About Equality report
- There are an estimated 1 million LGBTQ workers in the U.S. Source: Associated Press
- About 13.4 percent of the U.S. population is Black, but they occupy only 3.2 percent of senior leadership roles in large corporations. Source: Forbes
- Only five Fortune 500 companies have African American CEOs. Source: Fortune
- A 2019 survey of 234 companies in the S&P 500 found that 63 percent of the diversity and inclusion managers had been appointed or promoted to their roles during the past three years. Source: Time
- While Blacks make up 11.9 percent of all workers, they represent only 7.9 percent of the computer and mathematical (C&M) occupational group. Meanwhile, Hispanics represent 16.7 percent of all workers but hold only 6.8 percent of C&M roles. Source: The Brookings Institution
- Mercer found that 64 percent of workers in entry-level positions are white. But in the top executive ranks, 85 percent of posts are held by whites – showing the promotion gap that minorities face. Source: CNBC
- The wages between Black and white workers show a gap roughly as large today as it was in 1950. Source: New York Times
- One pulse survey of Diversity and Inclusion leaders found that 27 percent of them report that their organizations have put all or most initiatives on hold because of the pandemic. Source: McKinsey
- A recent poll found a majority (57 percent) of Americans say that police officers facing a difficult or dangerous situation are more likely to use excessive force if the culprit is Black. Also, 87 percent of Blacks believe police are more likely to use excessive force if the culprit is Black. Source: Monmouth University
- 44 percent of Blacks say they or an immediate family member have been harassed by police, compared with 24 percent of whites. Source: Monmouth University
- Only 38 percent of Blacks say there has been real progress in ending discrimination – the most negative the sentiment has been since the 1990s. Source: CBS News
- A majority (57 percent) of Americans now think the police are more likely to use deadly force against a Black person than a white person – up from 43 percent in 2016. Source: CBS News
- According to a 2019 study, only 18 percent of Blacks are satisfied with the way they are treated in this country. But 51 percent of whites say they are satisfied with the way Blacks are treated. Source: Gallup
- A recent poll found that 83 percent of Blacks said they had experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, compared to just 31 percent of whites. Source: Pew Research Center
- The same poll found that 45 percent of Blacks report having been unfairly stopped by police because of their race or ethnicity. Source: Pew Research Center
Brands and Promoting Social Justice
- In a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, 60 percent of respondents said brands must take a stand and speak out against racial injustice publicly. Source: Edelman
- 60 percent of respondents said that they will buy or boycott a brand based on if and how it responds to the current protests. Source: Edelman
- 60 percent say that brands need to use their marketing dollars to advocate for racial equality and to educate the public on the issue of injustice. Source: Edelman
- 56 percent say brands have a moral obligation for demanding action and 52 percent say they “owe it to employees.” Source: Edelman
- 52 percent of respondents of color say that they will not work for a company that fails to speak out. Source: Edelman
- Younger consumers in a survey say they are 3.2 times more likely to suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement is going to change their purchase behaviors in the future. Source: Women’s Wear Daily
Diversity and the Bottom Line
- Companies in the top quartile for executive-level ethnic diversity financially outperformed their rivals in the bottom quartile by 36 percent. Source: McKinsey
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Source: McKinsey
- Companies with more diverse management teams have 19 percent higher revenues due to innovation. Source: World Economic Forum
- 23 percent of Millennials say they will start/deepen their relationship with a brand based on the diversity of its leadership team, diversity policies, or behaviors, while 17 percent will stop/lessen it. Source: The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019
- An Academy of Management study analyzing data from 201 high tech firms found that unequal racial diversity in upper and lower management made organizations less capable of making good business decisions. But a 1 percent increase in racial diversity alignment in management increased productivity by $729 per employee. The figure rose to $1,590 per employee for Fortune 500 firms. Source: Forbes