The World Bank Group draws strength from our diversity, and we are committed to addressing racial discrimination and prejudice in our workplace and in our work around the globe. Our shared values include justice and equity for all and always treating others with dignity and respect, areas we continue to improve upon. At the core of the World Bank Group’s development mandate is a commitment to protecting those who are most vulnerable so that everyone, regardless of their gender, race, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, social origin or disability, can reap the benefits of development. We focus on increasing access to decent jobs, better services, and more secure livelihoods that help traditionally excluded people to participate fully in society and live with dignity.
Working Towards a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
Like many large organizations, we know we can and must do better as an institution to increase our diversity and inclusion to tackle discrimination, racism, injustices, exclusion, and inequality, within the World Bank Group and in the countries we serve. We admit that over the course of our history—as an institution with a mission to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable—we have not always made the right decision in such matters. But we take our commitment to improving diversity and inclusion seriously, and we continually work to be representative of the people in the countries we serve. Racial discrimination and social injustice have no place in the workplace, in our society, or in global development.
- We are a highly diverse global work force, representing more than 170 different nationalities.
- Almost two-thirds of us come from developing countries.
- Among our managers, 42 percent hail from developing countries, and half our top managers are women.
- We track our diversity by nationality—as mandated in our Articles of Agreement—not by race. We are working to capture more data specific to African American staff.
- Increasing diversity and inclusion remains a strong priority, and this is reflected in our recruitment policies. In this respect, for instance, the majority of recent appointments to senior positions have been either women and/or from developing countries, a trend we commit to continue.
- Our Internal Justice System has made interactive training sessions for staff to raise awareness of unconscious bias a regular feature of their outreach.
In the last few weeks, the World Bank Group’s staff and management have come together to discuss how this organization can contribute to the movement for more just and fair societies. The heightened global awareness around racial injustice and systemic racism has sparked valuable discussions about the need to enhance how we value diversity, dignity, respect, and inclusion. Departments and teams across the Bank Group have held virtual townhall discussions to allow staff and management to share their voices and ideas. Staff comments revealed a range of issues, such as disparities in career paths linked to race/ethnicity, lack of accountability for those who have perpetrated racist or discriminatory behavior, and other systemic challenges.
Flowing from these important discussions, the World Bank Group felt it was important to demonstrate our values more publicly. On June 12, the World Bank Group President announced the establishment of a World Bank Group Task Force on Racism. The role of the Task Force will be to offer concrete recommendations to the President and Senior Management to address this challenge in the World Bank Group, as well as to continue to provide a safe space for staff to raise issues and concerns. As a first step, the Task Force will work with the World Bank Group Council on Diversity and Inclusion to review all comments and questions shared during the townhalls on racism and identify areas of action. Also, a Bank Group-wide survey will be launched in July to thoroughly assess staff experience in dealing with racial discrimination and prejudice. The survey findings will help inform the recommendations to be made to the President and Senior Management. The Task Force, which will be led by Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel, will report directly to the President.
As part of a set of actions the World Bank Group is taking to support racial justice in our community and society, on June 19—an important date in United States history marking the end of slavery— we posted banners with the hashtag #EndRacism on our buildings in Washington D.C. and joined our voice with the countless others committed to the end of this scourge. This marks the launch of a broader #EndRacism effort, both for staff internally and for people in the countries in which we work. The Bank Group’s senior leadership team has committed to work closely with all staff to identify concrete actions in our institution, our programs, and our communities, to do all we can to end racism.
Contributing to our local community
The World Bank Group’s workplace giving program, the Community Connections Campaign, has long offered staff and retirees ways to support groups that work on racial justice and inequity issues. Given that COVID-19 has disproportionately hurt black communities from a health standpoint and economically, donations from staff and retirees and World Bank Group matching funds were provided to organizations serving communities of color in the DC region, totaling $850,000 since March 13. Additionally, over the past year, we have given more than $190,000 to organizations that work for racial justice, such as the United Negro College Fund, the ACLU of DC, and Bread for the City. We recognize that we can do even more for our local communities. Today, Community Connections announced an additional $100,000 in grants to fight racism and is in the process of adding more new charities to our workplace giving list ahead of our next drive so that staff and the institution can more actively support work to end racism and increase economic opportunity for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color..
In addition, as a response to the current focus on racism, the World Bank Group Corporate Procurement is launching an initiative called Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), aimed at boosting engagement with our local community by enhancing the support to local minority-owned businesses, as we have done with women-owned businesses through our Women Business Enterprise (WBE) initiative.
At the World Bank Group, we are working toward creating an environment where everyone is valued, where differences are celebrated, and where equitable treatment is afforded to all.
“What happened to George Floyd is beyond reprehensible. The scourge of racism is deep and pernicious and must be confronted and ended. Racial discrimination and social injustice have no place in our institution, our programs, or any of the communities we work in around the world.” – World Bank Group President Malpass