- Walgreen Boots Alliance, the company that owns Walgreens, made steps in diversifying its senior leadership, according to its 2020-2021 diversity, equity and inclusion report released Sept. 29. In 2019, 10% of the company's board of directors were people of color; currently, 25% of board members are people of color. WBA also increased the percentage of women on its board, moving from 30% in 2019 to 41.7% today. On March 15, 2021, WBA appointed Rosalind (Roz) Brewer as CEO, making it 1 of 2 companies in the Fortune 500 with a Black female CEO.
- Other actions WBA made included adding "equity" to its "diversity and inclusion" platform, adding "inclusion" to its other corporate values, establishing the Vaccine Equity Initiative to create equitable access to vaccines, and diversifying its supply offering, especially integrating more beauty and hair products for Black women.
- WBA's current corporate DEI goals include increasing representation for women globally by 3% over the prior year, increasing representation of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in U.S. leadership roles by 2% over the prior year, ensuring 100% use of diverse candidate slates and diverse interview panels for for leadership roles and spending $500 million with Tier 1 diverse suppliers. Meeting these goals will account for 10% of fiscal 2021 WBA bonus criteria.
Diversity in leadership is often where companies fall short in their DEI goals. While Target made strides in 2020, for example, White people remain overrepresented among its leaders compared with people of color; 50% of Target's team members overall are people of color, but that same group makes up 24% of its leadership team. Despite its strides, WBA has similar numbers.
Such discrepancies in representation among senior leaders are common. People of color face a number of well-recorded challenges on their way to the C-suite, according to a Gartner report from this past summer, including slower rates of promotion and a "worse perception of leadership potential." According to the report, HR managers suggested a lack of "diverse leadership talent in the pipeline" was responsible for the poor representation.
With last year's heightened focus on DEI, several strategies have emerged to help organizations overcome this challenge. The role of mentorship in helping underrepresented groups rise through the ranks has become clear, particularly as a 2019 Center for Talent Innovation survey found that nearly 3 in 4 senior leaders had mentees that were of the same race and gender, fostering so-called mini-me syndrome.
HR teams can also focus more attention on the hiring process, using strategies that prioritize inclusion, like team-based hiring efforts that allow more people to weigh in on candidates and ensuring evaluation criteria are up to date.