Leading the McKinsey Black Network

Lance with his dog in the mountains
Lance with his dog in the mountains

About a year ago, I sat down with my CEO, John Rice, at Management Leadership of Tomorrow (MLT), a non-profit that’s equipping high potential minorities with a winning playbook and the personalized coaching needed to reach their potential and maximize their impact at every stage of their careers. I shared with him that, after seven amazing years at MLT,  I wanted to get closer to the front lines of diversity, equity & inclusion work. We were one step removed from the companies recruiting our talent, and I wanted to more directly shape corporate environments in which all colleagues – especially those from diverse groups – could succeed.

With his support I explored possibilities with the goal of joining a leading organization committed to making itself equitable, especially for Black talent.

Finding my next step

A while later, my CEO and I were on a call with Shelley Stuart, Jason Wright, and others about resuming a McKinsey – MLT partnership. Someone mentioned that McKinsey was looking to fill a new global manager role to oversee the McKinsey Black Network programs. The CEO of MLT and I locked eyes and both realized if the job description lived up to its description and I interviewed successfully, my run at MLT was likely coming to an end.

I knew McKinsey was a fabulous place, filled with caring and brilliant people because I had been the significant other to a firm member and knew many people at the firm. To hear McKinsey was taking it’s commitment to ending racial inequity so seriously by creating this position made it a clear choice.

Early days

I’ve spent my first six months at McKinsey learning about the organization and culture, meeting people from many geographies and parts of the firm like recruiting and affinity group leads, formulating what I want my McKinsey experience to be and what is meaningful for others, especially those in the Black Network.

As the global manager for the McKinsey Black Network programs, my mandate is to make the firm better at recruiting, retaining, advancing and developing Black talent. I’m responsible for making sure we live up to the promises we’ve made, especially those set forth in the 10 Actions. I want McKinsey to be known as a place that welcomes a diverse collection of talent and helps everyone thrive.

There are a few pillars on which I’ll focus my energy. For example, I’ll continue performance indicators to measure our progress toward the commitments in the 10 Actions. Some have clearly defined objectives; others are harder to measure and track. I need to ensure we can assess our progress to hold the firm accountable.

Largely through the hard work of dozens of people well before I joined, we made good progress in 2020. For example, we delivered the first wave of anti-racism and inclusion training for colleagues across the globe in November. The training is really impressive. I’ve been in the DEI professional space for almost a decade, and even I learned and grew from this experience. Wave two is coming in 2021 and will focus on shifting mindsets and behaviors and a version will be created to share with our clients. We also launched the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, completed our global Day of Service, and selected more than 30 organizations for $5M in cash donations.

I plan to build a greater sense of community among our Black colleagues, across roles and offices. I want to make sure everyone at McKinsey knows about our network and the benefits it provides, such as training, global connectivity, service opportunities, and more,

I collaborate with leaders of our other affinity groups including Equal at McKinsey (LGBTQ+ at McKinsey), the Hispanic Latino Network, Asians at McKinsey, and Veterans@McKinsey. Lots of the programming designed for one group is relevant across all of them. Who can argue, for example, that eliminating unconscious bias (part of McKinsey’s Action #2) doesn’t help everyone and make McKinsey stronger.

Lance with his family in the mountains
Lance with his family in the mountains

A word of welcome

Even though I joined McKinsey in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have yet to meet so many of my colleagues in person, I have felt nothing but welcomed. The Diversity & Inclusion team went out of its way to embrace me, members of the McKinsey Black Network reached out, and I’ve gotten so many emails from people saying “hi, and glad you’re here.” I am excited to see how far we will go in 2021.

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