40% of companies discussed diversity on earnings calls, up from 4% in prior quarter.

According to new data from a RBC analysis, 40% of S&P 500 companies discussed diversity, equality and inclusion policies during second quarter earnings calls, up from 4% in the first quarter, and 6% during the same quarter a year ago amid pressure for companies to overhaul things like hiring and promotion practices.

Since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers in May, many companies came out in support of protesters and pledged renewed commitments to fighting systemic racism. According to RBC, 38% of S&P 500 companies have since announced initiatives and action plans since that tragic event, however, despite the hype, many are quick to note that it’s one thing for companies to speak in vague, over-arching terms about their commitment to equality in the workforce, while it’s quite another for that commitment to play out on the ground level.

According to an Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report from June, which RBC cites, 64% of U.S. respondents said that companies taking steps to ensure that their ranks are reflective of society as a whole was important in earning and maintaining consumer trust. Additionally, 63% of the 2,000 respondents said that brands that issue statements in support of racial equality must also install concrete policies to “avoid being seen … as exploitative or as opportunists.”

CNBC adds that it’s traditionally been nearly impossible to track progress at S&P 500 companies because they are not required to disclose statistics on the composition of their workforce. RBC’s data is through August seventh, when roughly 90% of S&P 500 companies had reported quarterly results.

“Diversity and growth are not just integrated, but inseparable. This belief is at the heart of RBC’s Value of “Diversity & Inclusion – We embrace diversity for innovation and growth.” For us, diversity has long been a gateway to the world and to success. At a time of both challenges and opportunities in the world, rather than turn inward, we believe that there’s a growing need to shine a light on diversity and inclusion.” — Dave McKay, CEO and President of RBC.


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