Boeing has fired 65 employees and disciplined another 53 for racist, discriminatory and hateful conduct since Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun vowed “zero tolerance” in June.
The CEO is trying to make good on an anti-bigotry pledge he made last year after George Floyd’s murder by a police officer spurred protests across the U.S. Now, in a bid for greater transparency, Boeing is releasing a breakdown of its employees by gender, race and ethnicity — and the report shows that the company has a long way to go to attain its goal of a more diverse workforce.
“As we have witnessed horrific images in the news and heard heartbreaking stories from our people, our determination to advance equity, diversity and inclusion has only become stronger,” Calhoun told employees Friday.
Boeing is working to bolster inclusion as investors press U.S. companies to help address deep-seated racism and to be more transparent about their own hiring practices. McDonald’s is tying executive bonuses to targets for increasing underrepresented groups. Investor proposals for independent racial audits were backed by more than one-third of Johnson & Johnson and Citigroup shareholders at annual meetings this month.
While Calhoun tries to reboot the company culture, Boeing is being sued for racial discrimination. According to allegations in a recent case in federal court in South Carolina, a Black employee faced retaliation and a hostile work environment, as well as a supervisor who routinely assigned African-American workers to a building with undesirable and hazardous working conditions. Boeing denies the allegations.
One of Calhoun’s first hires after taking the top job last year was Michael D’Ambrose as human resources chief, with a mandate to bolster diversity. According to Boeing’s demographic data released Friday, a company that has traditionally skewed White and male has a lot of work ahead to add more women and people of color to its ranks.
Black employees make up just 6.4% of Boeing’s U.S. workforce and 4.4% of its engineers. Women account for 23% of employees and 17% of engineers.
“We’re on par with the aerospace industry, and we don’t think that’s anywhere good enough,” D’Ambrose said in an interview.
Boeing intends to release the snapshot of its 140,000-strong workforce annually to track its progress, along with another measure of its demographics contained on a form known as EEO-1 that corporations are required to disclose to the federal government.
The company wants to increase its Black representation by 20% in the U.S. by 2025, which would still leave the total number at less than 8% of the company’s workforce. At the current rate, it will take Black Americans 95 years to reach workforce parity in all levels of U.S. private industry, having 12% representation at every level of a company, according to a February report from McKinsey & Co.
Boeing is taking steps such as creating action plans to address the root cause of representation gaps in its workforce and briefing directors every eight weeks on the progress toward building diversity and inclusion. Encouraging employees with different backgrounds and life experiences to speak up is good for business, D’Ambrose said.
“By being more diverse, more inclusive, we will make better decisions,” he said.