World Economic Forum Launches Coalition to Tackle Racism in the Workplace

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  • The World Economic Forum has today launched a coalition of organizations committed to improving racial and ethnic justice in the workplace 
  • 48 organizations representing 13 industries, with more than 5.5 million employees worldwide and with headquarters in three continents have committed to building more equitable and just workplaces 
  • Companies must put racial and ethnic justice on their board’s agendas, take at least one firm action and set a long-term strategy to become an anti-racist organization 

Geneva, Switzerland, 25 January 2021 — The World Economic Forum has today launched the Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative, which will see a coalition of organizations commit to building equitable and just workplaces for professionals with under-represented racial and ethnic identities. 

The Partnering for Racial Justice in Business 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. 

What action looks like 
Three steps are required to join the initiative: 

  1. Racial and ethnic equity must be placed on the board’s agenda 
  2. Companies must make at least one commitment towards racial and ethnic justice in their organizations 
  3. Companies must put a long-term strategy in place towards becoming an anti-racist organization 

Examples of business commitments towards racial and ethnic justice range from allocating financial and human resources to racial justice work, setting representation goals for all seniority levels, and establishing mentorship programmes for racially and ethnically diverse employees. 

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 chief executives, 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. The Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative provides an effective platform for businesses to take individual and collective action towards racially and ethnically just workplaces,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum. 

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. It produces data, standards and insights, such as the Global Gender Gap Report and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0 Toolkit, and drives or supports action initiatives, such as the Community of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers, The Valuable 500 – Closing the Disability Inclusion GapHardwiring Gender Parity in the Future of WorkClosing the Gender Gap Country Accelerators and the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality.

Founding members 
The founding members of the initiative are: A.P. Møller-Maersk, AlixPartners, AstraZeneca, Bank of America, BlackRock, Bloomberg, Boston Consulting Group, Bridgewater Associates, Centene, Cisco Systems, Cognizant, Dentsu International, Deutsche Bank, EY, Facebook, Google, H&M Group, Henry Schein, HP, Infosys, Ingka Group (IKEA), Jacobs Engineering Group, Jefferson Health, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, Kearney, LinkedIn, ManpowerGroup, Mastercard, Mayo Clinic, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Nestlé, PayPal, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, PwC, Salesforce, SAP, Standard Chartered Bank, Tata Consultancy Services, The Coca-Cola Company, Depository Trust & Clearing (DTCC), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Uber Technologies, Unilever, UPS and Willis Towers Watson. 

The Davos Agenda 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to widen inequalities, with disproportionate repercussions for disadvantaged groups and minorities. What policies, practices and partnerships are needed to embed equity and inclusion into our economic systems? The Davos Agenda is a pioneering mobilization of global leaders aimed at rebuilding trust to shape the principles, policies and partnerships needed in 2021. It features a full week (25-29 January) of global programming dedicated to helping leaders choose innovative and bold solutions to stem the effects of the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year. Heads of state, chief executives, civil society leaders and the global media will actively participate in almost 100 sessions covering five themes. Media can register here.