The coalition was announced at the Davos Agenda Summit, which is happening online. The WEF said its “Partnering for Racial Justice in Business” initiative will have member organisations “commit to building equitable and just workplaces for professionals with under-represented racial and ethnic identities”.
The founding members include 48 organisations representing 13 industries, with more than 5.5 million employees worldwide and headquarters in three continents, the WEF said. The founding members of the coalition include Google, Microsoft, HP, AP Moller-Maersk, AlixPartners, AstraZeneca, BlackRock, Bloomberg, Boston Consulting Group, Bridgewater Associates, Centene, Cisco, Cognizant, Dentsu International, Deutsche Bank, EY, H&M, Henry Schein, and IKEA.
“With just 1 per cent of Fortune 500 firms led by black chief executives, the need to tackle racial under-representation in business is urgent and obvious. To design racially and ethnically just workplaces, companies must confront racism at a systemic level, addressing not just the structural and social mechanics of their own organisations, but also the role they play in their communities and the economy at large,” WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi said.
The three steps firms require to take to join the initiative are placing racial and ethnic equity on the board’s agenda, making at least one commitment towards racial and ethnic justice in their organisation, and putting in place a long-term strategy towards becoming an anti-racist organisation.
Examples of business commitments towards racial and ethnic justice range from allocating financial and human resources to racial justice work, setting representation goals for all seniority levels, and establishing mentorship programmes for racially and ethnically diverse employees. One of the starting points will be black inclusion and addressing anti-blackness.
“CEOs must stand up for their beliefs and use their considerable influence to promote racial and ethnic justice — not only in the workplace but everywhere. As a Fortune 200 CEO who stands for the humanity and dignity of all people, I’m proud that Cognizant is a founding member of WEF’s Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative,” said Brian Humphries, chief executive of Cognizant Technology Solutions US Corp.