Mathews Mmopi, McKinsey South Africa partner and head of its LGBTIQIA+ employee network, GLAM
Diversity and LGBTQIA+ inclusion are increasingly becoming a top priority for companies looking to offer a welcoming and productive workplace that will attract and retain the best talent that the market has to offer.
As a global leader in management consulting services, McKinsey & Company (known by many simply as McKinsey), is one of the more prominent companies developing solutions and strategies to create stronger, more inclusive and effective workplaces.
These are environments where people of diverse social backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations can thrive, feel equal and free to be themselves and reach their full potential.
To understand the scope of the work McKinsey is doing on inclusion and diversity, particularly in South Africa and on the continent, MambaOnline spoke with Mathews Mmopi, partner, and leader of enterprise-wide transformation for McKinsey’s life sciences practice globally.
Mmopi also leads the company’s LGBTQIA+ network, GLAM, for the EMEA region (Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa). He’s passionate about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“The way we think about diversity and the pillars on which this is based is representation. There can be no inclusion without representation, which encompasses all forms of social identities, whether it’s race, ethnicity, sexual identity, gender expression, and religious identities, among others. So we think across all levels,” says Mmopi.
“In creating a diverse work environment at McKinsey, we have taken steps to ensure that. There are trainings we do for the entire organisation to teach things like conscious bias, awareness and understanding of trans rights. We are also looking at how we can create an inclusive workplace through social interventions or consciousness-based interventions, as well as policy interventions.”
He points out the company’s gold status in the 2021 South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI), which scores companies on their LGBTQIA+ inclusive policies and activities, adding that the company also enjoys acknowledgements in similar indices in other countries, including the US, Germany, Japan, and India.
“I’d like to think that these recognitions or awards are a symbol of commitment, more than an achievement, and that’s what I celebrate about the company from an LGBTQIA+ perspective.”
Creating workplaces that affirm and welcome LGBTQIA+ employees
Nearly 20 years ago, the company became one of the first employers to actively recruit LGBTQIA+ MBA students, and today it is the first major consulting firm in the world to have appointed a transgender partner. In South Africa, the company still has a dedicated program to identify and recruit LGBTQIA+ students.
McKinsey was also one of the first companies to offer domestic partner benefits and has since expanded health options for same-sex partners, including parental leave that transcends sexual orientation or gender expression.
“It should not matter who takes parental leave,” Mmopi says. “And as far as health care for same-sex partners or gender non-conforming partners, as long as it’s your primary partner, you will be provided health care benefits, at all levels of the company. Our other benefits include delayed pregnancy, and we will make sure you have support if you choose to enrol in a fertility program. And even if you choose a surrogacy program, that’s included in the health benefits we provide.
“For those who want to adopt, we also offer support. The adoption process is not only costly, but it is also legally very costly. So we have aspects of support that deal with that. Our LGBTQIA+ staff and their partners also receive a lot of mental health support. These are some of the benefits of our health insurance, both locally and globally,” Mmopi explains.
He points out that fertility issues are not just an LGBTQIA+ issue, but cut across sexual and gender identities, so all Mckinsey employees will benefit equally. The firm is also committed to achieving equal representation of women at all levels of the organisation.
“Currently, we have 47% female representation globally, and we admit that there is still a lot of work to do. We have made great strides in diversity and now face the challenge of increasing representation at senior levels of the organisation.”
One of the most progressive commitments to LGBTQIA+ equality at McKinsey is the establishment of a formal network of global LGBTQIA+ colleagues, GLAM, where members of different sexual orientations and gender identities offer and receive peer support in each region of the company. The network also plays a key role in advising the company on LGBTQIA+ policies and benefits. In addition, a formal GLAM ally group has been established in each region.
Extending LGBTQIA+ diversity and inclusion
McKinsey takes responsibility for diversity and inclusion not only for itself but also for its clients and the societies with which they work. It helps its clients address inequities in representation, inclusion and diversity in their organisations. All of this is done using a data-driven approach.
It’s developed research that addresses barriers to advancement in the hiring process for previously marginalised minorities, which include black people, as well as intersectionality in terms of gender expression, sexual orientation, and identity.
In South Africa, McKinsey has been successful in building local LGBTQIA+ partnerships and networks to identify the organisations and companies it can work with in promoting diversity and inclusion. “So basically, we are working on a partnership basis with civil society organisations because they better understand the issues on the ground and can address certain social ills that take McKinsey longer to figure out.”
McKinsey’s diversity strategies extend to the company’s supply chain, ensuring that it has supplier diversity assessment measures in place.
“Our mainstreaming ensures that our practices and policies related to inclusive sourcing are followed. We make sure we include vendors who represent these groups and who best understand these groups. This is one of the initiatives we are doing with LGBTQIA+ owned and operated companies,” Mmopi says.
McKinsey is a proud sponsor of several global LGBTQIA+ conferences and events. The firm has also partnered with Open for Business, a coalition of companies around the world working to promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Another initiative is its National Coming Out Day, where colleagues share their experiences and insights.
“I believe McKinsey is the place to work when it comes to recognising inclusivity, it’s an employer of choice, especially for the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Mmopi. He believes that the company’s commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion and diversity puts it in a position of strength and gives it a competitive edge.
“McKinsey’s role is not only to make sure we understand the problems of today, but also to be able to project the problems of tomorrow and make sure we plan ahead and are ready to address, prevent, or respond to the problems of the future. What looks like today will not be the case five or ten years from now,” he says.
This article was made possible with the support of the Other Foundation and is part of a series addressing LGBTIQ+ Economic Empowerment in South Africa and the region. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Other Foundation. www.theotherfoundation.org.