It Could Take 95 Years for Black Workers in the Private Sector to Reach 12% Representation in Leadership Roles, Study Finds
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It Could Take 95 Years for Black Workers in the Private Sector to Reach 12% Representation in Leadership Roles, Study Finds

On the current trajectory, it would take roughly 95 years for Black professionals working in the national private sector to reach 12 percent representation in management roles, a new report finds.

McKinsey & Company published this finding amongst others in its inaugural Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience report. The new report studies Black professionals working in the U.S. private sector, diversity, equity and inclusion programs and what economic success looks like. Walmart, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, PolicyLink and the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility collaborated to conduct research on 24 national companies, which represent 3.7 million employees. Monne Williams, Atlanta partner at McKinsey & Company and co-author of the new report, told AfroTech that McKinsey invited a number of companies and they had to opt-in to participate. This initial report focuses on large employees with good industry representation, she said.

“We looked at current representation rate and we we also looked at current promotion rate and attrition rate,” Williams said. “The analysis basically says that if we kept everything on the current course and trajectory and let it play out over the next however many years, that’s how long it would take to to get to that 12 percent. That’s where the 95 years comes from.”

Williams said this stat was the most shocking to her of all the findings. McKinsey did another analysis on how that timeframe can be shortened by taking the best rates across all of the samples and finding that it could take up to 25 years to reach that 12 percent of representation for Black professionals if companies had more inclusive leadership teams.

“I don’ think anyone who’s focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion would be okay with a century long timeline to improve things,” she said.

McKinsey found that some companies are doing well with having good representation of Black professionals at the senior level but the management consulting firm also found that only seven percent of Black workers at these companies are managers. With 18 percent, there’s more Black workers in frontline hourly roles. Black workers also make up 12 percent of entry level corporate roles, yet they aren’t getting promoted at that same rate.

“We see that drop off for entry to manager, and that’s an important part of this problem, to close the gap because you essentially just have way less Black workers in the pipeline,” she said.

Here are some more high level findings from the report:

      • 60 percent of Black private sectors workers are concentrated in 10 states while Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina account for 30 percent of Black workers. There’s a lack of Black workers in fast growing communities like Seattle, Washington and Austin, Texas.
      • Black workers are underrepresented in various high-growth and high-demand occupational categories like engineering, information technology and social sciences.
      • Only 53 percent of Black workers believe their coworkers care about diversity and inclusion. Overall, Black workers view their experience in the workplace as less accepting and less fair compared to their white coworkers.
      • Black workers are leaving jobs at a higher rate compared to white professionals.

Since there are less Black workers than white workers in the private sector, the attrition could sometimes be invisible, Williams said. Even though Black workers are leaving at a higher rate, since there are already less of them in the workforce, large companies don’t often see it happening. Large corporations may be thinking they are making progress on hiring and diversity and inclusion, but that progress is eroded when a consistent amount of Black workers are leaving.

Roughly 84 percent of Black workers said that diversity and inclusion is a top priority to them, but there is a huge distrust from Black professionals toward their management teams and their DEI motives.

“This trust deficit that we found was one of the other key indicators that we see that needs to be addressed in order to improve retention and overall to increase the representation of Black workers in the private sector,” Williams said.

Williams is hoping large companies will see the statistics in this report and improve retention for Black workers before it’s too late.