Businesses need to remain diligent in DEI efforts during economic downturn, says McKinsey senior partner Shelley Stewart

FAN Editor

Businesses need to remain diligent in their diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, efforts as layoffs continue, according to McKinsey senior partner Shelley Stewart.

In an interview with CNBC, Stewart warned that an increase in layoffs could pose a challenge to the DEI pledges that many businesses made following the murder of George Floyd by police.

Since December 2020, the amount of money that companies publicly committed to racial equity has increased from $66 billion to $340 billion. However, “it has been challenging to actually meet these ambitious goals to deploy this capital,” Stewart said.

Stewart told CNBC that Black Americans have historically been disproportionately affected during economic downturns.

Because Black workers are underrepresented in the tech industry, he said, they may not be hit disproportionately in that sector. Nonetheless, he stressed the importance of increasing the number of Black workers in tech, urging businesses to continue “thinking about ways to increase representation as we think about emerging from this thing on the other side.”

Stewart encourages companies to continue their DEI efforts by working with diverse suppliers, saying partnering with diverse businesses is “the biggest lever that corporations have to directly impact society other than wages.”

“Inclusive growth is better for companies, better for society, better for our global economy and our domestic economy,” he said. “Folks that stick to that, I think, will emerge on the other side stronger.”

Watch the video to learn more about the commitments that companies have made to address inequality and the impact that an economic downturn could have on these DEI pledges.

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