Top Companies Partner with Seramount to Release Groundbreaking Workplace Report on Racial Equity and Inclusion Across Corporate America
- In partnership with industry leaders from Unilever to Goldman Sachs, Seramount’s “Pledge to Progress” report finds significant corporate culture shifts
- Leadership challenges and discrimination remain in the workplace despite national reckoning on racism
- Report partners include: Abbott, Alight Solutions, Baxter International Inc., Cowen Inc., EY, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, Manulife, and Unilever
May 19, 2021 (New York, NY)—Today Seramount, in partnership with Unilever, Goldman Sachs, and other industry leaders, released a groundbreaking workplace report on racial equity and inclusion, detailing progress and challenges across corporate America. Surveying over 2,400 professionals, nationally weighted for race/ethnicity and gender, of US companies with 5,000 or more employees, Seramount’s “Pledge to Progress” report tracks both changes in employee perceptions and new actions by companies since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the start of a renewed national reckoning on systemic racism.
“We know that this continues to be a difficult journey for America’s corporations, but we must have the courage to look the facts squarely in the face,” says Subha V. Barry, CEO of Seramount. “The good news is that a large majority of employees are ready, here and now, to help counter racism in their workplaces, but the support of leadership remains critical. One year after the murder of George Floyd and a renewed national reckoning on race, we can see where the progress exists and can actually address what problems remain, opening up the path to real, lasting change.”
Key findings from the report include:
- The vast majority of corporate employees, 83 percent, are now committed to fighting racism in their workplaces, though countered by a small but vocal dissident faction, just 3 percent, who are not personally committed to helping their organization do the work.
- Overall, employees perceive the pledges and statements their companies made as “authentic,” with White employees (88 percent) seeing the highest level of authenticity, followed by Black employees at 85 percent, Asian employees at 84 percent, and Hispanic employees at 83 percent.
- Ninety-five percent of corporate executives are committed to helping their company fight racism and injustice within the organization. Of those 95 percent, however, 33 percent indicate they feel forced to support these efforts. And of those 95 percent, nearly 8 in 10 said the attention and focus of DEI is blown out of proportion.
- One of 6 Black employees remain doubtful that progress is actually going to be made; 16 percent of Black employees surveyed say their company is “all talk,” showing that work still needs to be done.
- Black employees indicate that their company’s processes in recruitment (67 percent), retention (71 percent), performance development (72 percent), salary (69 percent) are hindered by bias.
- Year over year, most of the employees surveyed feel more supported at work by their company and their colleagues, with the notable exception of Asian employees.
- Thirty-five percent of Black men fear for their personal safety due to race-based violence or discrimination (both psychological and physical) at work since May 2020.
“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and the awakening it had on corporate America, it is most fitting to have a comprehensive review on the progress or lack thereof that has taken place,” says Karen Boykin-Towns, vice chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “I commend Seramount for taking on this important assignment as we work collectively to make the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion truly a part of the DNA of not just companies, but society at large.”
More report findings:
Since May 2020, 79 percent of employees surveyed are aware of their company taking one or more of the following actions:
- CEO or senior leader statement against racism and injustice (49 percent)
- Public statements against racism and injustice (41 percent)
- Pledges and announcements to improve or enhance internal processes for DEI (40 percent)
- Pledge to make a more inclusive workplace (39 percent)
- Pledges to increase representation of African American or Black employees in hiring and promotions (29 percent)
- Company advertising or media in support of fighting racism and injustice (26 percent)
- Financial pledges and donations to organizations fighting racism and injustice (25 percent)
- Financial pledges and donations to support local communities (25 percent
Since May 2020, employees note the implementation of the following new policies, programs and communications (this does not include initiatives that already existed):
- Communications from the CEO on racism and diversity topics (36 percent)
- Employee focus groups to understand feelings, fears and concerns of all employees on racism (35 percent)
- Open forums to discuss diversity issues (35 percent)
- Educational programs on racism and bias (29 percent)
- Anti-racism training (28 percent)
- Specific programs to address racial trauma (27 percent)
- Training on how to be an ally to the Black community (26 percent)
- Commitment to having more underrepresented minorities in leadership roles (26 percent)
- Inclusive leadership training (25 percent)
- Commitment to hiring and promoting diverse talent (24 percent)
- Share results of diverse hiring and promotion practices and strategies (24 percent
The report will be unveiled on May 19, 2021, at Seramount’s EmERGe event, one of the only events dedicated to Employee Resource Groups.
In preparing the report, Seramount assembled an advisory board including leaders across all industries, who provided key recommendations on how to combat racism in the workplace. The Pledge to Progress Report Board of Advisers includes: Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer, Vice Media; Jonathan Beane, Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, National Football League; Karen Boykin-Towns, Vice Chair, NAACP National Board of Directors; Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University, Newark; Valerie Irick Rainford, Founder and CEO, Elloree Talent Strategies; Matthew McCarthy, CEO, Ben & Jerry’s; Tish Archie Oliver, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Unilever, North America; Xan Daniels, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Alight Solutions; Hiranda Donoghue, Deputy General Counsel and Vice President, Global Businesses, Baxter International Inc.; Megan Hogan, Chief Diversity Officer, Goldman Sachs; Michael Johnson, Divisional Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Abbott; Michelle-Taylor Jones, Vice President, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Manulife Financial Corporation; Lisa Keltner, Senior Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Baxter International Inc.; Ripa Rashid, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Cowen Inc.; Elena Richards, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, KPMG; Samantha Santos, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Goldman Sachs; Karyn Twaronite, Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Officer, EY.
To read the full “Pledge to Progress” report, please click here.
About the Methodology
In April 2021, Seramount conducted a survey of 2,431 college-educated professionals at companies with at least 5,000 US employees about their perceptions of racism in the workplace and their organization’s support for anti-racism efforts. The survey was nationally weighted for race/ethnicity and gender.
Seramount is a strategic professional services firm dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Over four decades, partnering with some of the most iconic companies in the world, we’ve built a deep data-driven understanding of the employee experience which lays the groundwork for everything we do. Our comprehensive DEI toolkit includes actionable research and insights, membership, strategic guidance and consulting, and inspiring events, meeting each client’s needs no matter where they are on their journey and guiding them along an ever-changing landscape. Seramount has empowered over 450 organizations to realize the business benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion. Learn more at seramount.com.