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The vast majority of Americans are introduced to the workforce through frontline jobs—whether waiting tables, stocking store shelves, or folding clothes. Approximately 70 percent of the current U.S. workforce is concentrated in frontline jobs, which is also the most diverse part of the workforce. Too often, however, frontline jobs are both a starting point and an end point for workers. This research, a collaboration between McKinsey & Company, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, PolicyLink and Walmart, found this challenge is especially true for frontline workers of color, who face an array of impediments to moving up the ladder. This report shines a light on the experiences of frontline workers of color, the pathways upwards from the front line, and the skills workers need to advance. It also offers steps companies could take to improve job quality and better support frontline workers of color to develop and progress in their careers.
Advancing racial equity in companies is action-oriented work. Black workers, in particular, face challenges – from the structural inequities of geography to underrepresentation in industries that might create additional opportunity to the cultures and behaviors within their workplaces. This report, which is part of a new comprehensive series by McKinsey & Company, was produced In collaboration with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, PolicyLink and Walmart, lifts Black American voices and shares their experiences in the U.S. private sector. The research is organized in three parts: first, a summary of Black Americans' participation in the U.S. private sector economy; second, their representation, advancement and experiences in companies; and third, recommendations and actions companies can take in response, along with additional actions a wider set of stakeholders can take to accelerate progress on diversity, equity and inclusion.
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