General Mills said Wednesday it will double the number of Black managers throughout the company, making a public commitment after the police killing of George Floyd thrust more attention on racial injustice and inequality.
The food company’s plan, announced Wednesday, reflects a larger reckoning in corporate America over the lack of diverse representation in upper management.
Additionally, the company — founded in Minneapolis, and now based in Golden Valley — promised to increase the percentage of racially and ethnically diverse individuals holding professional positions within the company’s U.S. offices, currently at 19%, to 25%. It said it will diversify its supply base by doubling what it spends with minority-owned vendors.
Floyd’s death and subsequent protests raised awareness of the ways Black Americans are disadvantaged and discriminated against, including economically and professionally. This has led to calls for greater, and quantifiable, representation in boardrooms and senior corporate leadership.
“I want to voice General Mills’ strong support for the inspiring movement for social and racial justice that was tragically elevated by the horrible killing of George Floyd here in our hometown of Minneapolis,” General Mills’ chief executive, Jeff Harmening, told investors earlier this summer.
“We have a lot of work to do to start the healing, to help our communities rebuild, to emphasize that Black lives matter, and to help drive lasting change for social and racial justice,” he added.
And while General Mills has set a tangible goal, it stopped short of establishing a deadline by which to meet these commitments.
“It is an ongoing commitment that includes how we recruit, develop and advance, and retain employees,” a company spokeswoman said. “We will continue to establish and pursue tangible goals that ensure we build and maintain a diverse workforce.”
By contrast, Delta Air Lines on Tuesday made diversity-related public commitments with a self-imposed deadline of 2025.
The company is tying its leadership to its overall employee base. While 21% of its employee base is Black, only 16% of Delta’s overall leaders and 7% of its top 100 officers are Black.
“That is not a picture of equity, nor is it reflective of the world we serve,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees.
Delta aims to double the percentage of Black officers and directors in the next five years and increase Black representation on its board of directors.
While based in Atlanta, Delta often refers to Minneapolis-St. Paul as its second home, including in a company memo expressing outrage over Floyd’s death. The company owes much of its legacy and size to the 2008 merger with the former Northwest Airlines, which was based in the Twin Cities.
Both companies made other commitments this week aimed at racial equity. For instance, General Mills is shifting charitable giving to areas that will more greatly benefit communities of color and Delta is broadening its talent recruitment strategy to include more historically Black colleges and universities.