Corporate Racial Equity Advantage

When PolicyLink launched our equitable economy initiative in 2011, we knew that we would have to directly address the role of the private sector. Steering businesses toward equity is fundamental to building an equitable economy, because the private sector provides the majority of jobs and spurs additional business opportunities along the supply chain. That is why PolicyLink and FSG teamed up to guide companies in assessing and actively promoting racial equity in every aspect of their business operations and strategy. 

An initial step in this work is the report, The Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity developed in partnership with FSG, and the accompanying op-ed in Fortune. The report goes beyond the essential ingredient of workforce diversity, as a means for businesses to address past and continuing discrimination while improving their competitiveness, to challenge the corporate sector to affirmatively advance racial equity through its products, services, and public policy positions.

As a follow-up to the initial report, PolicyLink and FSG have developed three additional reports:

  • A CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity, an article by PolicyLink, FSG, JUST Capital, and Living Cities that invites corporations, racial equity experts, funders, investors, and other experts to support and collaborate with us in developing guidelines that can guide businesses in analyzing their impact on racial equity. This article presents an invitation and roadmap to help companies understand and address the intended and unintended consequences of all their products, policies, and practices on people of color, and by extension, our economy and democracy. The blueprint provides actions in three key domains: 1) inside the company, 2) within the communities where the companies are headquartered and conduct business, and 3) at the broader societal level.
  • Health Care and the Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity: How Advancing Racial Equity Can Create Business Value, focuses on actions taken by companies in the health care sector to create business value by addressing the unique challenges faced by communities of color. The companies featured in this report — ProMedica, Kaiser Permanente, Cigna, and UnitedHealth Group — have adopted several business strategies that improve health outcomes for people of color and create a competitive advantage through reduced costs, avoided readmissions, and greater member satisfaction.
  • Financial Services and the Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity: How Advancing Racial Equity Can Create Business Value highlights specific action steps leading companies in the financial sector have taken to create business value by using credit, savings, and investment products to address the unique challenges faced by communities of color. The companies featured in this report — Citi, Oportun, OneUnited Bank, Prudential Financial, and Impact America Fund — have found a competitive advantage through their strategies to serve consumers who have historically been excluded.

To accompany the reports, our blog post, How companies can advance racial equity and create business growth, share examples from our research on the healthcare and financial services sectors in addition to highlighting opportunities for companies in other sectors -- 5 action-steps and 3 internal catalysts that are applicable to any industry. 

Looking forward PolicyLink and FSG will develop an executive education training to business leaders on structural racism and its impact on business, and develop and share custom tools that help these leaders identify strategic opportunities to bolster their bottom lines through policies and practices that benefit people of color who have been excluded from the economic mainstream.