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In this issue, we look at the Bank of Japan's efforts to boost diversity, Britain's new £50 note, what it means to be “American,” and the lessons we can learn from Ida B. Wells. Plus, we consider food insecurity in the US and who is going hungry.
Issuing guidance
Double shift. Japan's central bank has announced that by 2023, it aims for all male employees who have children to take parental leave. The bank will also work to increase the share of female managers from 6 percent now to 10 percent in two years. The Bank of Japan has never had a female governor, and the country is far from achieving gender parity. One reason: Japanese women are shouldering around 85 percent of unpaid care work, according to OECD data. Globally, women do three-quarters of all unpaid care work, and the division of unpaid labor has become even more skewed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women spend more than one trillion hours a year on unpaid work, including childcare, eldercare, cooking, and cleaning. The value of all this work? Around $10 trillion annually, according to McKinsey analysis. Governments can ease the “double burden” on women through subsidized parental leave and childcare—and companies can do their part by offering flexible work options.
Of note. The Bank of England recently unveiled a £50 note featuring the mathematician, computing pioneer, and World War II code breaker Alan Turing, one of the most important scientists in British history. In 1952, Turing was arrested and convicted based on his identity as a gay man. Being gay is still criminalized in many countries; more than one-third of UN member states criminalize consensual same-sex conduct. And in corporate settings, including in corporate America, LGBTQ+ people face widespread discrimination. Companies can help employees bring their full selves to work by taking steps to stamp out inappropriate behavior toward LGBTQ+ colleagues and prevent their isolation—particularly while work remains remote.
1 in 5
One in five Black Americans and one in five Hispanic and Latinx Americans say they don't have enough food to eat at home. This in turn affects their broader health and can worsen the effects of COVID-19. The likelihood of dying from COVID-19 is 1.4 times higher in communities facing food insecurity, according to McKinsey analysis. This interactive dashboard shows the levels of food insecurity across America—and its prevalence in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The US is stepping up its efforts to address the pressing issue—including with tens of billions of dollars for food assistance.
“The women killed in Atlanta, those working-class matriarchs of families, are familiar faces. The older folks who are being attacked in the streets feel like family to me because they could easily be my mother.”
- Prabal Gurung
Prabal Gurung is a Nepalese American designer who is out as gay, outspoken about inclusion, and known for casting diverse models. In 2019, he titled a runway show “Who gets to be American?” after a potential investor told him he didn't “look American.” As Gurung recently told Vogue, “my perceived ‘otherness’ is as American as it gets.” Gurung has called attention to the diversity of the Asian American community—and the disparities within it. The “model minority” myth, he says, “exists in order to homogenize us and create the illusion that we are always doing okay, but this is not the case. We struggle.” As Gurung points out, Asian Americans have the highest within-group income inequality in the US: the top 10 percent of earners have more than ten times the income of the bottom 10 percent. Gurung says that Asians and Asian Americans face discrimination “in every nook and corner” of the fashion industry and “are rarely, if ever, the leading cast.” Businesses, he says, should ensure that their teams are “diverse from the top down, not just in front of house roles.”
Michelle Duster
Ida B. Wells refused to march in the back. A journalist, suffragist, and antilynching crusader, she cofounded several organizations, including the Alpha Suffrage Club, Chicago's first suffrage club for Black women, and the NAACP. And in 1913, she attended the first suffrage march in Washington, DC. The night before the march, organizers asked Wells and other Black suffragists to march in the back of the procession. The next day, Wells waited on the sidewalk—then jumped from the crowd and took her place among the members of the Illinois delegation.
Michelle Duster reflected on the legacy of Ida B. Wells—her great-grandmother—in a recent McKinsey interview. As Duster put it, Wells's “quest was always to give full citizenship rights to Black Americans and women,” and she viewed voting rights and civil rights as intertwined. Wells “saw a lot of progress,” Duster explained, “but she also saw a lot of backlash to and violence toward Black Americans' progress. And we continue some of those struggles today.”
— Edited by Gwyn Herbein, an assistant managing editor in McKinsey's Atlanta office
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