In the spring of 2021, Seramount’s Pledge to Progress report assessed the pledges made by corporations in light of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and the subsequent racial unrest and movement for equity. More than 100 US corporations made pledges to improve racial representation and pay equity and to bolster employment, health, and education in underserved communities.
Our 2021 national survey of 2,431 college-educated corporate employees found most employees across race and ethnicity (83 percent) were supportive of these efforts in their organizations, with Black employees indicating the highest rate of support (86 percent). However, employees had serious concerns about continued bias in the workplace, with the deepest concern voiced by Black and Asian employees. For example, 72 percent of Black employees cited continued bias in performance development, and 62 percent of Asian employees cited bias in recruitment. Black, Hispanic/Latine, and Asian employees also were less likely to feel included in their workplaces.
Their leadership also was ambivalent. While 95 percent of corporate executives surveyed in 2021 said they were committed to helping their organizations fight racism, 79 percent of those who said they were committed said the focus on DEI was overblown, and 33 percent felt they were being forced to support anti-racism efforts.
Our Pledge to Progress Board of Advisors advocated long-term solutions, including setting realistic goals, being transparent about progress, holding leaders accountable through metrics, making these efforts organization-wide (not just responsibility of DEI), and recognizing personal and institutional bias.
We at Seramount made our own pledge—to be vigilant in assessing corporate efforts and to report back on how they are doing. Since most of the pledges were for three to five years (and some were for ten years), it’s too early to know what kind of progress is being made on representation, pay equity, and building community wealth and support. For this report, we are focusing on how transparent organizations are being in reporting their progress or lack thereof. Without that transparency, there can be no accountability. We also are showcasing models of transparency and innovative solutions corporations are finding to address racism and racial equity gaps.
Interested in learning more about our findings? Join our webinar on June 28 at 2pm.