Sustainable and inclusive growth: A weekly briefing

Accelerating sustainable and inclusive growth is often a matter of mindset. Our weekly digest of McKinsey insights explores the topic.

Sustainable and inclusive growth: Briefing note #2, June 30, 2022

We tend to think of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth as the challenge of building new technology or retrofitting the physical world around us. But this week, McKinsey explored how sometimes the crucial step is developing a fresh mindset. Our research on how many Americans work from home reveals a sea change in what it means to have a job. Articles about meeting the psychological needs of all workers, improving wealth management for women, decarbonizing real estate, and pursuing global cooperation highlight how changing the way we think about people and institutions can be the key to growth.

The third edition of McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey provides the data on how flexible work fits into the lives of workers in the United States. The most striking figure from this research is 58 percent: the number of Americans who reported having the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week (exhibit). When workers are offered flexibility, 87 percent choose to work from home at least part of the time. Senior partners André Dua, Kweilin Ellingrud, and Robert Palter and their coauthors reveal that employees’ mindsets about work have clearly changed. Now it’s up to employers to think creatively about how to satisfy workers’ desire for flexibility in ways that strengthen diversity, innovation, and productivity.

Of job holders in the United States, 58 percent—the equivalent of 92 million people—say they can work remotely at least part of the time.
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Many leaders mistakenly believe that only other professionals who have enjoyed similar success truly value the nonfinancial aspects of their work. That is simply not true, yet data show that the psychological needs of lower-earning workers are typically going unmet, far more often than is the case for higher earners. Our novel data and analysis illustrate the premium placed by all workers on psychologically satisfying work and how business leaders can respond.

Women investors now control roughly a third of total assets under management in Western Europe, valued at some €4.6 trillion. By 2030, women’s share of investments is expected to reach a total of €10 trillion. Senior partners Cristina Catania and Martin Huber and their fellow authors explore how women investors differ from men and what financial institutions should do to better serve them.

On March 21, 2022, the US Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a climate-related disclosure rule for investors. Whatever the final outcome, the proposed regulation signals a new era for how real-estate players think about their industry and climate change. Industry players are becoming aware that they need to measure their Scopes 1 and 2 greenhouse-gas emissions, work on decarbonizing buildings, and offer tenants and other stakeholders ways to reduce emissions.

The global economic landscape offers plenty to worry about, including the war in Ukraine, the difficulty of the net-zero transition, and inflation. But don’t assume that things are impossible, counsels Jean Pisani-Ferry, senior fellow at the European think tank Bruegel and professor of economics with Sciences Po in Paris. In an interview with Janet Bush and Michael Chui, executive editor and partner, respectively, at the McKinsey Global Institute, Pisani-Ferry examines nuanced ways to look at the trade-offs presented by global challenges.

Here are other key findings from our research this week:

Our latest edition of Author Talks features Marcus Buckingham, a business consultant and motivational speaker, speaking about his new book: Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life (Harvard Business Review Press, April 2022). Employees who find teams, projects, and situations to love tend to be highly successful.


This briefing note, based on our latest published insights, was prepared by Katy McLaughlin, a senior editor in McKinsey’s Southern California office.




Sustainable and inclusive growth: Briefing note #1, June 23, 2022

A new era is possible—one that sees growth and societal benefits as complementary goals that reinforce each other. Our weekly digest of McKinsey insights explores the topic.

For over two years, this compendium of McKinsey’s latest research focused on COVID-19’s implications for business. While our pandemic-related insights will continue, we are pivoting our summary of the week’s publishing to a new topic of similar urgency and complexity: how to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth (SIG). This regular briefing, curated by McKinsey Global Publishing editors, will highlight our most recent perspectives on how companies, organizations, and society can view growth and societal benefits not as conflicting goals but as equal imperatives for holistic impact.

We are launching the “SIG briefing note” on the heels of McKinsey’s 2021 ESG Report, which provides a multifaceted view of our approach to environmental, social, and governance imperatives. Before we ask other organizations to examine themselves for ways to improve, we must ask the same of ourselves. In this report, we share our decarbonization efforts, progress on diversity and inclusion, sustainable procurement, and other cornerstones of ESG. Case studies highlight companies that have successfully merged growth with what in another era might have been considered “social missions.” The report explains why it is no longer helpful to look at social missions as separate from traditional corporate growth and profitability goals; instead, a SIG mindset sees addressing a broader array of stakeholders’ needs as part and parcel of growth.

At McKinsey, we believe the future belongs to those who can drive growth that is both sustainable and inclusive—and we are working with purpose, on issues from decarbonization to diversity, in order to make that future a reality.

Bob Sternfels, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company

Getting to net zero will depend on building green businesses to produce the technologies, materials, and systems the transition requires. Like the digital leaders of our time, successful green business builders have been adept at creating and shaping markets rather than spectating and waiting for the markets to appear, and they have embraced the notion of accelerated scaling. Senior partners Rob Bland and Tomas Nauclér and partner Anna Granskog highlight promising innovations and best practices.

Car manufacturers should look beyond the tailpipe to deliver greener cars. Industry players can capture carbon and cost savings by scrutinizing the end-to-end manufacturing value chain. More environmentally friendly cars at a lower per-unit cost will depend on moves including redesigning components, implementing circularity to decrease waste, and making design shifts to reduce the amount of raw material required. Collaboration with suppliers and R&D are key enablers of both the commercial and technical aspects of the implementation strategy.

Nearly all European flat-steel players have announced plans to gradually decarbonize production processes for the sheets and plates used by the automotive, machinery, and construction industries. For many of the newly built plants, the initial intention was to use natural gas for parts of the process. Now, rising natural-gas and electricity prices, as well as potential limitations on the natural-gas supply, are forcing reconsideration. McKinsey’s analysis of how to safeguard the green-steel industry suggests four scenarios for how the situation may play out, two of which represent the most viable courses of action.

Strengthening Black-owned businesses can accelerate inclusive growth. Twenty percent of Black Americans start businesses, but only 4 percent of these businesses survive the start-up stage. On the Future of America podcast, McKinsey senior partner Tiffany Burns and associate partner Tyler Harris discuss challenges Black entrepreneurs face. One key sticking point: a lack of contacts, mentors, and a network that can be crucial for building beyond the “great idea” phase.

Here are other key findings from our research this week:

  • Edtech start-ups raised record amounts of venture capital in 2020 and 2021, and market valuations for bigger players soared. To learn how edtech is being adopted in higher education, McKinsey surveyed over 1,400 students, faculty, and experts at US public and private nonprofit colleges and universities. Senior partner Varun Marya and his coauthors share which learning tools have the highest uptake, how students and educators view them, the barriers to higher adoption, and the notable impacts on learning.
  • Organizations can prepare for compliance with new US cybersecurity regulations by following a three-step approach for readiness, response, and remediation.
  • The McKinsey Quarterly interviewed entrepreneur Marc Andreessen about Silicon Valley’s past and future. He advises companies to identify their smartest technologists—and make them the leaders.
  • Three new factors have emerged as critical to capturing value from digital transformations. They include the development of proprietary assets, the use of digital tech to achieve strategic differentiation on customer engagement, and a focus on attracting and developing tech-savvy executives.

Our latest edition of Author Talks features Daniel Coyle discussing his new book, The Culture Playbook: 60 Highly Effective Actions to Help Your Group Succeed (Bantam Books, May 2022). Coyle, an adviser to Google, Microsoft, and the Navy SEALs, shares methods that allow teams to connect over goals and a common purpose. Companies should not rely on people being “a good culture fit,” which can lead to homogeneity, but instead should look for ways employees can bond, including by sharing their vulnerabilities.

Also in Author Talks, Julien and Kiersten Saunders, creators of the blog rich & REGULAR, discuss their new book, Cashing Out: Win the Wealth Game by Walking Away (Portfolio, June 2022). The authors say the FIRE movement—which stands for “financial independence/retire early”—is lesser known in communities of color, where there may be fewer role models of people who have successfully “cashed out.” Learning to eschew lifestyle inflation, to save, and to invest are key to financial independence.


This briefing note, based on our latest published insights, was prepared by Katy McLaughlin, a senior editor in McKinsey’s Southern California office.

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