Racial Equity Dividends Index identifies opportunities for building racially equitable workplaces in Minnesota

27 Jun 2022

Workforce, News

By Nathan Arnosti, Director of Analytics, Center for Economic Inclusion

On June 21, the Center for Economic Inclusion published its first annual Racial Equity Dividends Index, which surveys Minnesota businesses on their implementation of 36 of the leading standards for building racially equitable and inclusive workplaces. Forty businesses – including more than a dozen headquartered in Ramsey County – participated in the 2022 Index, demonstrating their commitment to shared accountability for inclusive economic growth. These businesses hold tremendous economic power: they employ more than 200,000 Minnesotans and more than 550,000 workers outside of Minnesota.

The 2022 Index revealed that progress towards racially equitable workplaces is uneven. Some policies are nearly universal among participating businesses: 98% of participants offer financially stabilizing benefits like health insurance and retirement savings to all full-time employees, and 90% of participants survey employees annually about their sense of equity and belonging.

Other data reveal areas where progress is needed: 35% hold leadership accountable for enterprise-wide goals related to hiring, retaining, and advancing workers of color; only 8% pay all workers a family sustaining wage (defined using the MIT Living Wage Calculator as $21.68 per hour, or approximately $45,000 annually for the Minneapolis-St. Paul region); and only 5% of participating companies have senior leadership teams that represent the racial demographics of their surrounding region.

For companies looking to build racially equitable workplaces – and benefit from the many dividends of doing so – a good place to start is to study the 36 standards identified in the Index and identifying those that your organization could benefit from adding first. The Index report also offers promising practices from participating Minnesota businesses that offer a road map for jumpstarting your efforts to strengthen your leadership, philanthropy, supplier diversity, or other strategies by learning from peers who have been in your shoes.

Promising practices include:

  • To strengthen Hiring practices, US Bank has established a program called Discover Us for first- and second-year year Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian college students. Participants receive a week of on-site training and professional development, $500 scholarships, and guaranteed opportunities to interview for internship positions at US Bank.
  • Trellis conducted an equity assessment on access to their services to improve Procurement processes and, based on these findings, expanded outreach to communities of color, simplified application processes, and increased their technical assistance for applicant organizations. After these modifications, the number of proposals they received increased by more than 270%, including many culturally responsive proposals to serve residents from distinct communities, including Karen, Korean, Cambodian, Liberian, Somali, and Indigenous communities. In 2021, 41% of available funds went to serve Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian seniors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, compared with a regional elder population that is less than 10% people of color.
  • To improve its Philanthropy, 3M created a coalition of racially diverse civic and nonprofit leaders to help them develop an equity lens for investing $50 million in support of racial equity. This coalition has grown to include leaders of organizations receiving investment.
  • Andersen Corporation improved its Culture, Retention, and Advancement by creating a new system in which entry-level employees on their production floor could use a QR code to privately express interest in leadership development programs, rather than rely exclusively on personal relationships to identify workers with management potential.

Companies are encouraged to participate in the Racial Equity Dividends Index annually to increase accountability and monitor progress as you implement new systemic actions over time. Participating companies can utilize the customized, confidential reports and the aggregate regional reports to create opportunities for stakeholder trust building among employees, customers, and investors. Registration for the 2023 Racial Equity Dividends Index will open in the fourth quarter of this year. Our team of consultants are available to help companies implement solutions and strategies identified using the Index.

With tools like the Center’s Racial Equity Dividends Index, companies in Ramsey County can be at the forefront of building racially equitable workplaces that benefit workers of all races and ethnicities and produce more innovative, dynamic organizations. There’s no better time to act.


The Center for Economic Inclusion equips public- and private-sector leaders and employers with the knowledge and tools to build, scale, and institutionalize anti-racist workplaces. Through purposeful, research-driven action, our mission is to close racial wealth gaps and build racially equitable and inclusive regional economies. Our team of activators and strategists leverage data, insights, and wisdom from Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Hispanic communities to fulfill your vision for an organization that is good for your employees, customers, and the communities you serve.

Contact our team to learn more about how standards named in the Racial Equity Dividends Index can benefit your organization, to develop strategies for moving from awareness to action and accountability, or to participate in one of our learning programs at action@centerforeconomicinclusion.org.