Consulting firms co-found WEF's Racial Justice in Business forum

17 February 2021 6 min. read
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The World Economic Forum has launched ‘Partnering for Racial Justice in Business’, a global initiative that brings leading responsible companies together with the aim of promoting the diversity and inclusion of people from all racial backgrounds. 

Despite all the progress made on diversity & inclusion in recent years, there still is a long way to go for parity in the workplace. While most attention in media and business goes to the position of under-represented groups such as woman and LGBTs, the topic of racial justice – quality for people of all racial and ethnic identities – is another key pillar of the diversity & inclusion agenda.

The issue of racial injustice is most apparent in boardrooms. According to data from the World Economic Forum (WEF), less than 5% of executives at Fortune 500 companies are Black, while just 1% of these global behemoths are by Black CEOs. Below the top level, Black employees form approximately only 6.7% of the 16.2 million managerial-level jobs. “The need to tackle racial under-representation in business is urgent and obvious,” said Saadia Zahidi, a leader at the World Economic Forum.

Consulting firms co-found WEF's Racial Justice in Business forum

This is where the WEF – one of the most prestigious and impactful business networks in the world – platform ‘Partnering for Racial Justice in Business’ comes in. Partnering with a global coalition of companies and their C-suite leaders, WEF aims to build more awareness for the topic and ensure that organisations globally build more equitable and just workplaces. 

Zahidi explained: “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 organisations but also the role they play in their communities and the economy at large.”

“The ‘Partnering for Racial Justice in Business’ network has been designed to operationalise 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.”

Partners from the consulting industry

A group of 56 companies have provided their support to the network as a founding member, 17 of which are members of the consulting industry. These are: AlixPartners, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, Capgemini, Cognizant, Dentsu, EY, IBM, Infosys, Jacobs (the parent of PA Consulting), Kearney, KPMG, McKinsey & Company, PwC, Tata Consultancy Services, Willis Towers Watson and Wipro.

Consulting firms co-found WEF's Racial Justice in Business forum

Commenting on its support, Kevin Sneader, the Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company said: “Over a decade of research tells us that racial and ethnic diversity can give companies a performance edge. McKinsey is proud to be a founding member of this new coalition that is working to tackle issues of racial injustice in the workplace and identify solutions that work across the globe.”

Rich Lesser, the Chief Executive Officer of Boston Consulting Group stated: “We work with the world’s largest organisations and governments to ensure that racial equity is fully considered, measured, and advanced by this lens. Achieving sustainable impact requires a holistic approach that addresses business drivers, social and systemic change, and team and cultural factors.” 

One of the three Big Four firm to co-found the coalition, EY’s Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carmine Di Sibio, “A commitment to inclusiveness and social equity is crucial during changing and disruptive times. At EY, we strive to build a better, more equitable, working world in which differences are valued and everyone can thrive. Together with the other founding members we stand against systemic inequities, discrimination, and racism.”

Bob Moritz, the Global Chairman of Big Four counterpart PwC said: “While we can't control what happens in the world, we can – and should – always strive to influence and change it for the better. That is the underlying premise of our purpose, and within PwC and the communities in which we live and work, we are committed to fostering an environment that stands for inclusion and equality, and that allows people of all backgrounds to thrive and succeed.”

Aiman Ezzat, the Chief Executive Officer of 265,000-strong Capgemini, said: “Diversity and equality are a non-negotiable cornerstone of our workplace and, beyond that, the communities in which we live. As a global leader we recognise that we have the power and the platform to take meaningful action in the fight for racial justice everywhere and that it is our responsibility to do so. It is with the conviction that we are stronger together on the path to racial justice in business that Capgemini is proud to be a founding member of this initiative.”

Alex Liu, the Chief Executive Officer of Kearney commented, “Racial injustice is a human problem. Fighting it requires more than personal commitment to change and a decisive shift from intent to action. Business leaders must be authentically-engaged stewards to drive progress for the next generation, to deliver fundamental outcomes of belonging and workplace joy and justice.”

“We must be actively anti-racist, in any form, whether micro-aggressions, discrimination, segregation, conscious bias or blind spots. While all people want to be safe, and to be seen and to be supported, we need to go even further and actually inspire. Lead by example and tenacity. Kearney is all-in committed to partnering for racial justice in business.”

Steve Demetriou, the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Jacobs – the parent of management consultancy PA Consulting – remarked: “Jacobs is excited to this network unite  efforts to increase the representation of racially and ethnically diverse leaders in our industry – and through their partnership, help lead the charge against the racism and inequity that exists in the wider communities that we serve.”

Finally, Wendy Clark, the Global CEO at Dentsu International said: “We are committed to dismantling racism in the workplace and to being a catalyst for change in our industry and society by partnering with our clients, industry networks and major advocacy organizations like The Forum to ensure we create sustained social justice change and reform beyond this catalytic moment.”