'Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience,' a McKinsey & Co. Report Created in Collaboration with Walmart

By Donna Morris, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Walmart
Feb 26, 2021 11:00 AM ET
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By Donna Morris, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Walmart

Immediately following the tragic murder of George Floyd, we knew Walmart had to be part of the solution. As the largest employer in the country, which includes a workforce of approximately 300,000 Black and African American associates, we quickly focused on what we could do to make a difference at scale.

We identified the opportunity to accelerate our efforts by collaborating with McKinsey & Company to fund and support the production of a new report called Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience.

This research has been underway since last summer and represents one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind. It includes qualitative and quantitative analysis gathered from 24 top companies including Walmart, across industries, and it leverages publicly available data. The full report can be found here.

Yesterday, the report was released by the Wall Street Journal, and the insights are available to all companies seeking to advance racial equity in the workplace. We intend for the report to serve as a catalyst for honest, candid discussions and specific actions based on unvarnished, data-driven insights. Examples of the private sector report findings include:

  • Educational attainment has an outsized impact on the employment gap. Black workers without a high-school education trail the overall population in employment by 4.5 percentage points.
  • Workers who have previously been incarcerated face steep employment hurdles. Black male workers trail their white peers in this segment by 21 percentage points.
  • Geography is an important determinant of employment opportunity. Almost 60 percent of the Black labor force (11.8 million people) is concentrated in the South, compared with just one-third of the rest of private sector workers.

The study details the challenges facing Black Americans specific to employment across the private sector, and it further reinforces the importance of addressing these complex systemic issues through our internal people processes, Shared Value Networks (SVNs) and the Center for Racial Equity.

Walmart has already taken meaningful actions, and we will make a key difference by identifying opportunities to improve racial equity specific to the criminal justice, financial, education and health care systems. More information about Walmart’s progress can be found in our FY21 Culture, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Mid-Year Report.

We have early momentum with the Center for Racial Equity, which recently announced $14.3 million in grants to 16 nonprofit organizations, the first distribution from the $100 million commitment announced last June. Walmart is committing an additional $3 million to OneTen, a coalition of leading companies in the United States that are coming together to upskill, hire and advance one million Black workers over the next 10 years into middle-skill jobs.

We are on the journey to racial equity, and we are committed to continuing our focus on tracking and addressing issues at their core, both across society and in workplaces throughout America – including our own. We encourage you to read McKinsey’s Race in the Workplace report, discuss and reflect in your own spheres of influence. It will take all of us to solve the systemic and structural challenges before us.