Racial Equity and Justice Business Roundtable Marks One Year Since Release of Corporate Initiatives, Policy Recommendations to Advance Racial Equity and Justice

Nov 9, 2021

Washington - Business Roundtable today released an update on its racial equity and justice efforts. Since last October, when the Roundtable announced corporate initiatives and public policy recommendations focused on addressing the racial wealth gap, member companies have taken significant steps to deploy resources and implement organizational changes to advance broader economic opportunity in America.  

“Last October, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Business Roundtable member companies committed to stepping up our efforts to address the inequities and injustices that exist within our society’s systems,” said Doug McMillon, Business Roundtable Chairman and President & CEO of Walmart. “After convening more than 100 experts, Business Roundtable created a plan for sustained action. During the past year, Business Roundtable member CEOs have worked within our companies and in communities to advance economic opportunity for Black citizens. We know there’s still a lot to be done, but we remain committed to building on our momentum and having a substantial impact.”

Since last October, Roundtable CEOs have taken a range of actions to address the racial wealth gap, which are outlined in more detail here. Key developments include: 

  • Sustaining focus by the C-Suite. CEOs, other C-Suite leaders and senior executives are championing racial equity and justice-related initiatives across their companies. 
  • Strengthening dedicated roles and functions. Member companies have expanded support and capacity to DE&I teams. 
  • Building and supporting a diverse supply chain by seeking out and working with minority-owned vendors and other partners. For some minority-owned third parties who may not yet have the scale or capacity to serve large enterprise customers, companies are supporting their growth and development.
  • Investing in community-based partnerships with racial equity and justice organizations where they operate. Such focus has extended to expansion strategies, including companies considering underserved and/or majority Black communities for new operations to offer opportunities to talented candidates and boost local economies.
  • Embedding a racial equity lens into core business functions. Companies are investing more time in better understanding the implications and impact of their products, services and capabilities on specific minority groups to make them more relevant and accessible.
  • Intensifying talent management efforts by investing time and attention across their full talent management lifecycle. They are focused on recruiting and hiring more underrepresented minorities than ever before, across all business functions, including senior leadership roles. For existing employees, some companies are creating mentoring programs focused on reskilling and upskilling and creating opportunities for employees of color to take on managerial positions.
“Business Roundtable members have taken clear steps over the past year to address the racial wealth gap and are committed to doing their part to expand economic opportunity through their actions and advocacy,” said Business Roundtable President & CEO Joshua Bolten. “Working together and with government, business leaders will continue to take actions and support policies that help ensure economic opportunity for all Americans.” 

Below are highlights of progress Business Roundtable members have made toward commitments to address the wealth gap across six areas of society:

  • Education: In June 2021, Business Roundtable announced a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) to invest in historically Black college and university (HBCU) students and develop a diverse talent pipeline for America’s largest companies. To date, more than 50 Business Roundtable companies have partnered with TMCF. Roundtable member companies have also committed to provide over $900 million to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, as well as secondary and higher education initiatives.
  • Employment: In June 2021, the Roundtable launched an initiative to promote increased transparency on corporate diversity by voluntarily disclosing their diversity metrics. To date, over 100 member companies are participating in this commitment to transparency. In addition, through the Multiple Pathways Initiative, nearly 80 companies are reforming their hiring and talent management practices to emphasize the value of skills, rather than just degrees, and to open their companies to more talented individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Finance & Housing: Over the last year, Business Roundtable CEOs made the following commitments: 
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs): Committed over $2 billion in grants and low-cost debt to CDFIs that are Black- or Latino-led and/or serving Black or Latino communities, doubling an organization-wide goal of $1 billion by 2025; 
  • Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs): Committing $465 million to provide vetted Black- or Latino-led MDIs with capital and deposits, with an organization-wide goal of $600 million by 2025;
  • Minority-Owned Small Businesses: Committing over $20 billion to minority-owned small businesses via capital, grants, low-cost debt and technical assistance, including focused investments in historically underserved and undercapitalized communities;
  • Affordable Housing: Committing over $26 billion toward producing and preserving affordable housing, with a Roundtable-wide goal of producing and preserving 200,000 affordable units by 2025, including in mixed-income communities, at a cost of $30 billion; and
  • Mortgage Loans: Committing $20 billion to responsibly increase the number of new, sustainable Black and Latino homeowners, with a Roundtable-wide goal to provide 120,000 purchase loans totaling $25 billion in mortgage purchase originations by 2025 and enhance efforts to deliver refinance loans. 
  • Health: Business Roundtable established the Health Equity Benefit Evaluation Initiative to identify employee health benefit practices that may reduce racial health disparities for employees. The Roundtable also developed a social determinants of health roadmap and established a working group to assess the diversity, equity and inclusion practices of health care partners providing services to their employees.
  • Justice: In July 2020, Business Roundtable released policing reform policy recommendations and followed up with robust advocacy calling for bipartisan policing reform legislation. In addition, recognizing that Black and Latino people are frequently excluded from hiring and economic opportunities due to disparities in the criminal justice system, through the Second Chance Business Coalition launched in April 2021, 38 companies have committed to reducing employment barriers for individuals with a criminal record.

For more information, visit www.brt.org/equity/2021update.