The World Economic Forum (WEF) is spearheading a coalition of 48 corporate leaders and their global corporations in a commitment to set new global standards for racial and ethnic justice in business. The initiative, Partnering for Racial Justice in Business, launched Jan. 25 during The Davos Agenda 2021, an annual meeting of global leaders; it represents 13 industries, including banking, financial services, healthcare, and technology, with more than 5.5 million employees worldwide, according to the announcement.
Inclusion of Black individuals in the workplace and addressing “anti-Blackness” will be a starting point for the initiative. “With just 1% of Fortune 500 companies led by Black CEOs, the need to tackle racial under-representation in business is urgent and obvious,” Saadia Zahidi, managing director at WEF said in a statement. Below the CEO level, in the Fortune 100, Black employees form approximately 4.7% of executive leadership and “6.7% of the 16.2 million managerial level jobs,” according to WEF.
The initiative grew out of the organization’s “new economy and society” platform, which focuses on inclusion in work, wages, education, skills and learning, and economic growth, among other topics. Companies that have joined the new coalition must include racial and ethnic equity on the board agenda; follow through on at least “one firm commitment” toward racial and ethnic justice within the organization, and develop a long-term strategy to become an “anti-racist organization,” WEF said in the announcement. In time, the coalition will also expand its focus to include additional racial and ethnic groups.