Partner Voices: The limitless possibilities of inclusion

As we work to accelerate sustainable and inclusive growth, we’ve seen the benefits to companies and communities of economic inclusion. To grow, companies need to be inclusive in their approach to talent so they can find new workers that offer diverse skills and perspectives. This also expands a company’s business into more communities—including those historically underserved and undervalued.

McKinsey partners below offer their insight into how inclusion has played a key role in their client work—from the retail industry to the public sector and across the Middle East and Africa—and will in the future.

Our conversation with the CEO was very clear, bold ambitions require diverse profiles in your C-suite and in your organization. The company had never had a female executive, and now they do.

Mustafa Rakla, partner, Dubai

Mustafa: If you look at the countries that comprise the Middle East, there is such a young population that needs to be absorbed into the workforce. At the same time, we’re seeing unprecedented ambition from companies to grow, so there’s no choice but growth for the Middle East.

We need to be as inclusive as we can of the diverse young population to maximize the workforce and youth opportunity. But how do you train them and skill them at scale? This is part and parcel of what we do at the firm. In the past, we were mostly a strategy firm, but now half of what we do is execution. We are there with companies helping them build capabilities for new employees so they can serve more communities and create more opportunities.

Retail is where consumers spend much of their hard-earned dollars. And the products consumers purchase can be indicative of what and who they support. We’ve seen consumers voting for diversity with their wallets…and want to do it more.

Tiffany Burns, senior partner, Atlanta

Tiffany: The frontline of retail is full of opportunity to further diversity goals. The products retailers assort on their shelves matter, and McKinsey studies show that roughly 45 percent of consumers believe that retailers should further support Black owned brands on their shelves—indicative of the real and measurable demand for diverse owned brands.

Our aspiration as a firm

Accelerating sustainable and inclusive growth

We help clients pursue sustainability, inclusion, and growth, all at the same time.

But it doesn’t stop at product, it’s also about the people—the customers that the product and shopping experience attracts as well as the frontline employees. The retail frontline is more diverse than ever before, and it’s also changing rapidly with 44 percent of frontline workers considering leaving their job in the next 3-6 months. This turnover on the frontline is not only costly (estimated at over $10,000 per employee), but it’s also a missed opportunity when retailers lose diverse talent.

With these dynamics, it’s incumbent upon retailers to think deeply on how they’re building the complexion of the company from the frontlines: the production of the shelves, the customers being encouraged to shop, and the frontline employee—and to act accordingly.

Inclusion really starts with making sure someone has a job. From there, so much is possible.

Acha Leke, senior partner, Johannesburg

Acha: Growth is oxygen and it's something we need. In Africa, we've had strong economic growth in the past 20-30 years. But at the same time the number of people living in poverty has gone up, not down. My public sector clients on the continent very much understand the need for this growth to be much more sustainable and much more inclusive, but how do we get there?

What we found is that the sectors that drive growth tend to be different from those that drive jobs. If you work on the resources sector or some of the manufacturing sectors, these are amazing for growth, but in general don't create many jobs. Sectors that drive jobs tend to be agriculture, retail, and wholesale trade. We’ve focused on how to transform these sectors, create jobs, so we can drive growth and drive inclusion. It’s all possible—if it’s done right.

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