Black-Owned Companies Leading DEI in Corporate Spaces

A Black man and woman leading a work meeting to a majority-Black team.

A 2021 McKinsey analysis of the Black experience in the US private sector found that Black employees represented 14% of all employees. However, many of the roles are in frontline and entry-level jobs. Once the researchers looked at the managerial level and up, they noticed a sharp decrease in representation to 7% – and fewer – the further up the position.

In the published report, they explained some of the reasons why there are fewer opportunities for Black people to move up in the workplace—lack of clear managerial pipelines, lack of individual sponsorship and advocacy for growth and a trust deficit, which means Black employees are more likely to believe their workplace is inauthentic and unfair.

Many of these organizational challenges can begin to be addressed with an intentional and robust diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program. In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting Black-owned or majority Black-led companies doing great work in diversity, equity and inclusion training; anti-racism and helping Black executives thrive at work.

Forged Ed – Led by a former classroom teacher and principal, the education-focused consulting firm works with school leaders to improve school-wide equity and works with individual educators to improve classroom equity. Forged Ed also conducts equity audits to help organizations diagnose specific pain points and conducts general professional development around equity.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow – The DC-area nonprofit runs several programs dedicated to supporting Black, Latinx and Native students and working professionals achieve career and academic advancement. Through classes, coaching and organized networking, they help these underserved groups earn MBAs and climb the corporate ladder at Fortune 500 companies. They also run MLT Racial Equity at Work, a comprehensive certification program for companies committed to a diverse culture. 

W.K. Kellog Foundation – For nearly a century, the foundation has been working in vulnerable communities to help increase equity. They’ve also led the charge for the National Day of Racial Healing since 2017. In an effort to help address the problem of systemic underrepresentation in the investment sector, the foundation has committed to only investing in firms and strategies where people of color have significant decision-making power. This shift helps make diverse management a status quo.

YWCA – Originally founded in England, the YWCA has been advocating for and supporting marginalized communities since the 1850s. Today, they have over 200 local chapters in the United States including the first North American chapter—YW Boston. YW Boston offers long term in-person and virtual DEI consultation to help organizations rehabilitate equity in the workplace. 

Journalist L’Oreal Thompson Payton explained in a piece for Fortune how sudden DEI strategies that don’t take into account incremental growth can backfire for the marginalized groups they were intended to support. Shifting a culture is a process and having a DEI expert as an accountability partner will help make sure the changes are met with less resistance and implemented sustainably. As always, RALIANCE is also here to help.

RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit


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