Partner voices: Growth isn’t a zero-sum game

We start with growth.

McKinsey’s approach to client work is aligned with our theory of change; when we lift companies up, opportunities arise for those who need them most and innovative solutions flourish. Hear from our partners on how McKinsey works to achieve growth that is both sustainable and inclusive.

The past was always about tradeoffs; it was a zero-sum game. The mindsets and behaviors need to change to make and sustain a shift.

Gemma D’Auria, senior partner, Milan

Gemma D’Auria: Clients always want to talk about growth, but now the impact they want is holistic—not just for shareholders—but for customers, the communities they are part of, and society at large. What we’ve found is that companies aren’t always holistically planning for internal changes. We encourage companies to bring different parts of the organization together that aren’t used to ‘talking’ to one another, to think about sustainability, inclusion, and growth in problem solving.

Kweilin Ellingrud: An experience that showed me the power of sustainable and inclusive growth was a multiyear transformation we did for a global wealth and asset manager. The organization was struggling because of a customer-facing backlog. It was growing quickly, but that growth was not sustainable.

For every unit of growth that we drive, how do we ensure it is more sustainable and more inclusive?

Kweilin Ellingrud, senior partner, Minneapolis

We went in and completely redesigned its end-to-end journeys. We eliminated the backlog by empowering employees who were closest to the work to problem solve and by working systematically across teams. Ultimately, the transformation quickly helped the company sustainably achieve the levels of growth it aspired to—and, it served more lower-income customers than many of its competitors.

And along the way, the company took care of its employees. It helped them build careers and skills while getting promoted and getting higher pay over time.

Shelley Stewart III: When I see efforts at sustainable inclusive growth that don’t gain traction, it’s often because they get delegated and moved off the plate of senior leaders. This type of growth needs to be a core value in the business model, not something separate and handled through philanthropy. Taking a step back and saying, “How do I build this into my core business model? How can I get creative about the cost structure to make that work?” That’s when you start to see things succeed.

Providing capital for the energy transition and investing in the development of people in underserved communities—these are commercial opportunities.

Shelley Stewart III, senior partner, New York

Many companies get stuck in inertia. Often, if you're a retailer, you have an optimization model that tells you where to put the next location. It's informed by your existing footprint—and that’s going to keep your stores out of communities that are underserved.

It’s important to remember that partnerships with the public and not-for-profit sectors can make a big difference on these types of issues that affect business growth. In some of these cases you need a longer-term view of profitability, so not a next quarter or next half of the year, but in a three- and five-year view, this operating model will pay off economically. It can’t be the status quo anymore.

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