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Coqual Announces Black Equity Index to Measure Equity in the Workplace

Black Enterprise
Feb. 28, 2022

Coqual, a global think tank, unveils the Black Equity Index (BEI), a new initiative for organizations to advance and measure progress toward racial equity in the workplace.

Founded in partnership with a consortium of chief diversity officers and technology sector leaders, the BEI is designed to drive systemic, sustainable change, providing greater accountability for companies and their leadership teams. This independent and credible benchmark allows organizations to track progress on Black equity in the workplace and improve their practices across shared principles year after year.

Coqual, who led the initiative, published a new white paper that provides data and analysis from the inaugural survey. The project highlights areas where companies are progressing and offers actionable recommendations on how they can continue to improve. The white paper features aggregated data from a wide range of industries including technology, financial services, professional services, energy and utilities and life sciences, according to a press release

“To accelerate progress in DE&I, more tools for measurement and accountability are needed. We applaud the BEI participating companies for being bold and for demonstrating their commitment to racial equity and cultural transformation,” said Coqual Chief Executive Officer Lanaya Irvin.

“While there are areas for companies to improve, there are many reasons to be hopeful about the potential to drive greater equity for Black professionals.” The BEI focuses on companies’ efforts toward equity and delves into six specific areas: advancement, accountability, representation, investment, sustainability and public engagement.

The results show that Black representation is sorely lagging. While 14% of college graduates in the U.S. are Black, only two of the participating companies have reached 10% Black representation throughout their ranks. Additionally, 38% of companies have no Black members on their board. Across our entire sample, Black professionals make up only 4% of people managers.

The white paper recommends that for companies to make measurable progress, Black equity must remain a visible organizational priority backed by the chief executive officer. While more than three-quarters (77%) of responding organizations have a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force, only 10% are chaired by the chief executive officer, and 55% are led by anyone in the C-suite.

Accountability among senior leaders has improved on some measures, according to the BEI. Of companies surveyed, 62% consider workforce diversity in performance evaluations for senior leaders. However, only 42% link measurable progress on diversity metrics to executive compensation.

Black professionals are less likely than others to get promotion opportunities or to have access to senior leaders, Coqual’s prior research shows. To shorten time to promotion, Black professionals need sponsors — powerful leaders who can advocate for them. Most companies (81%) have mentorship programs to offer nurturing and advice, but fewer than half (46%) have sponsorship programs that would give Black professionals meaningful career development and traction.

Collaboration is a key component of the BEI, which will be fielded annually to improve hiring, representation, promotion, inclusion and retention of Black professionals across the corporate sector, to further empower Black talent and create opportunity.

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