Advancing racial equity requires leadership at every level. That is why the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) broadened its racial equity efforts in 2020 to work directly with the corporate sector. The goal is to expand equitable opportunity by transforming some of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the United States.
The Expanding Equity program supports companies in taking measurable steps toward racial equity. The program draws on the Kellogg Foundation’s decades of internal and external work in racial equity, diversity and inclusion.
Using tools, knowledge and human-centered approaches for cultivating the kinds of workplaces that attract, develop, retain and promote diverse talent, Expanding Equity participants aim to improve operational performance and workplace experience.
“Companies often reach out to us and ask about the foundation’s racial equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. They are looking for ways to take action,” says La June Montgomery Tabron, WKKF president and CEO. “We recognized that our journey, experience and expertise could be offered more directly to companies. Ultimately, we see this as an important part of our strategies to create a more just economy where all families can thrive.”
The business case for advancing racial equity in corporate America is stronger than ever
A recent report by WKKF and McKinsey & Company found that the “financial services talent pipeline has a lack of representation of people of color, most acutely at the senior levels.” This reality, paired with how racial equity translates into better business outcomes, presents a strong opportunity for making change for employers and employees.
WKKF piloted Expanding Equity in 2020 with an inaugural cohort of financial services firms with more than $300 billion assets under management, including Angelo Gordon, Beacon Capital Partners, Davidson Kempner Capital Management, Värde Partners, among others.
In 2021 and 2022, the program will broaden to include companies from other industries like consumer goods, technology, banking, business/professional services and others.
“Through our research and work with cohort one, it is clear that to create real change in diversity, racial equity and inclusion in the corporate sector, you have to address both employee representation at all levels and their experiences in the workplace,” says Carlos Rangel, WKKF director of investments and an architect for Expanding Equity.
“Transforming only recruitment strategies for diversity’s sake is not enough. There are significant shifts you can make to your culture, policies and ways of working to support your people and reach your customers,” adds Rangel.
To help support those shifts, the nine-month Expanding Equity program offers tools, coaching and nationally recognized expertise in racial equity and racial healing from Kellogg Foundation staff; a Racial Equity Mini-Diagnostic that provides a confidential baseline to inform leadership and employee development, engagement and retention strategies; four dynamic cohort workshops that offer peer learning/problem solving and tangible plans and steps to pilot racial equity initiatives; and specialized leadership programming for leaders and employees.
At the completion of the inaugural cohort, 100% of the participating firms:
- Rated the program highly and would recommend it to other companies
- Felt better-equipped to build and operate a company racial equity program
- Established internal racial equity councils to guide their efforts
- Selected strategic initiatives from the Expanding Equity curriculum to implement in their workplaces
- Are tracking impact against the initial baseline they received from the Racial Equity Mini-Diagnostic, setting racial equity goals for their firm