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Walking the Talk
It’s 2022:
Are Companies Walking Their Talk on Racial Equity?

JUST Capital’s 2022 Corporate Racial Equity Tracker reveals progress in key areas; but companies have a long way to go toward implementing meaningful actions that help fundamentally advance racial equity.

JUST Capital has released the 2022 update to its Corporate Racial Equity Tracker — a comprehensive resource detailing disclosures from the US’s 100 largest employers on their commitments and actions around cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their workplaces and communities. When a rash of unchecked killings of Black Americans by law enforcement ignited the Black Lives Matter movement and a national reckoning with racial injustice, corporations began releasing equity commitments on an unprecedented scale in response to mounting stakeholder pressure.

Two years after Black Lives Matter reached a fever pitch with the brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (to name but a few) in 2020, it remains challenging to assess and compare data on whether companies are taking concrete action to advance racial equity. The Tracker is aimed at addressing that challenge.

New survey research this year by JUST Capital and SSRS shows that 92 percent of Americans overall (up from 79 percent last year) and 95 percent of Black Americans believe it is important for companies to promote racial equity in the workplace. And 68 percent of Americans (up from 64 percent last year) and 87 percent of Black Americans (up from 81 percent last year) say companies have more work to do to achieve racial equity in the workplace.

Since 2020, countless companies have committed to sweeping reforms aimed at advancing racial equity both internally and externally, the latter, often in the form of various types of investments in communities of color — including increasing job training and educational opportunities; and directing operating and startup capital to often-underfunded, Black-run businesses. A number of frameworks have been developed to help companies of all sizes do that successfully; and organizations including Color of Change and the Black Travel Alliance have set to work holding companies accountable to these commitments. But the 2022 Tracker makes it clear that corporate America is making progress in some areas but still has a long way to go to demonstrate that companies are walking the talk and taking meaningful actions that will help fundamentally advance racial equity in the US.

Driving Internal Organizational Alignment and Better Cross-Functional Collaboration

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The 2022 Corporate Racial Equity Tracker offers an in-depth accounting of the state of disclosure by the 100 largest US employers in the Russell 1000, through 23 metrics across six specific dimensions of racial equity: (1) Pay Equity, (2) Racial/Ethnic Diversity Data, (3) Education and Training Programs, (4) Response to Mass Incarceration, (5) Community Investments and (6) Anti-Discrimination Policies.

Across the 85 companies JUST Capital tracked in both 2021 and 2022, the greatest increases in disclosure are seen in workforce and board diversity data, as well as pay equity – areas where there has also been rising pressure from investors:

  • Workforce diversity data disclosure increased by 6 percent, from 86 percent to 91 percent.

  • Board diversity data disclosure increased by 13 percent, from 84 percent to 95 percent.

  • Racial/ethnic pay equity analysis disclosure increased by 33 percent, from 34 percent to 45 percent.

  • Disclosure of pay ratios by race/ethnicity increased by 71 percent, from 14 percent to 24 percent.

Metrics that have low levels of meaningful disclosures among the 100 companies currently tracked include the following. Only:

  • 7 percent disclose their internal hire (or promotion) rate by race/ethnicity.

  • 11 percent report re-entry or second chance policies.

  • 21 percent report providing anti-harassment training, compared to 98 percent of companies that disclose an anti-harassment policy.

  • 22 percent disclose the actual results of the pay equity analysis, i.e. pay ratios by race/ethnicity.

  • 23 percent disclose diversity targets for hiring, workforce composition, promotion, or retention by race/ethnicity.

  • 42 percent disclose a supplier diversity spend amount, and 9 percent disclose a local supplier/small business spend amount.

“Two years after companies made very public commitments to advancing racial equity, we've seen some progress — but more is needed," said Ashley Marchand Orme, Director of Corporate Equity at JUST Capital. “The engagement of the $18 trillion+ private sector and continued investment in meaningful action by corporate leaders are critical to helping our society reach equity for all."

Companies with standout DEI disclosures in the 2022 Corporate Racial Equity Tracker include:

  • JPMorgan discloses internal hiring rates and detailed racial/ethnic data on promotions, conducts pay equity analyses, discloses its racial/ethnic pay ratios, and has a robust second chance agenda. It provides anti-harassment training for employees, tuition assistance, and an apprenticeship program, and discloses the amount it spends on diverse suppliers and goals for increasing its diverse supplier spending.

  • Intel discloses racial/ethnic diversity targets and conducts pay equity analyses by race/ethnicity. It also discloses average hours of training and career development for its employees, provides tuition assistance and anti-harassment training to employees, works with the Vera Institute of Justice and local governments to create more equitable outcomes for all in the criminal justice system, and has donated $3.25 million since 2017 in grants for hands-on STEM education for middle schoolers.

  • Accenture discloses detailed race and ethnicity targets; specifically, by 2025 it intends to increase the representation of African American and Black employees from 9 percent to 12 percent and the representation of Hispanic American and Latinx employees from 9.5 percent to 13 percent. It also conducts pay equity analyses annually, reports its race and ethnicity pay ratio, discloses its diverse and local supplier spend amounts and provides apprenticeship programs.

  • Target stands out for its efforts to connect racial equity issues back to socioeconomic inequities. The company discloses highly disaggregated EEO-1-level workforce demographic data by gender and race, sets quantitative and time-bound diversity targets with a focus on race/ethnicity, and conducts regular pay audits (the latest of which confirmed that workers are paid equitably, regardless of race or ethnicity). The company also announced in February that it was increasing its starting wage range from $15 to $24, depending on the job and local market, striving to pay a living wage to all its workers — the #1 priority for the US public, according to JUST Capital’s survey research.

“At Target, we understand we all have a role to play in creating a more equitable and inclusive society. So, when we’re successful, the wins are everybody’s,” says Kiera Fernandez, SVP of Talent & Change and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Target. “Our diversity, equity and inclusion goals help us hold ourselves accountable for the ambitious progress we strive to make as an organization. We're proud of how far we’ve come, and we’re inspired to work even harder to champion inclusion on behalf of our team, guests and communities.”

In the weeks and months ahead, JUST Capital will continue to release additional issue analyses and insights on leading practices relating to Tracker dimensions and will shine a light on companies that perform best on key disclosure and performance metrics that address racial equity and advance opportunity and mobility in a new list – the Workforce Equity and Opportunity Ranking. On June 13, JUST will also host a virtual convening — Moving the Needle: Tracking Corporate Progress on Racial Equity — that will unpack how companies are measuring up on DEI commitments and feature conversations with leading investors, asset managers and corporate leaders.

“It’s clear from the data that companies are at very different stages in their DEI journeys,” said JUST Capital CEO Martin Whittaker. “We've seen many companies step up in response to ongoing calls for racial equity over the past two years; and we know the public will be watching closely to see which companies are taking real steps to drive change and which are behind the curve.”