New Survey Details Challenges of Frontline Workers of Color

Learn What Can be Done to Improve Job Quality and Economic Mobility

Learn More

The majority of Americans are introduced to the workforce through frontline jobs—whether waiting tables, stocking store shelves or folding clothes. Roughly 112 million Americans are frontline employees, and more than 70% of Black and Hispanic Americans in the U.S. are considered frontline workers. Lack of advancement opportunity and sub quality experience on the frontline is hindering the American dream, and research shows that corporate DEI efforts in recent years drastically overlook the largest and most diverse part of the workforce: the frontline employees who face challenges related to opportunity, advancement, and experience. This latest research from McKinsey & Company highlights the outsized impact companies can have on job quality and economic mobility for employees of color by extending DEI efforts to frontline workers.


  • Frontline hourly workers are nearly 20% less likely than corporate employees to believe that DEI policies are effective.
  • 50% of frontline workers in this group make less than $30k a year
  • 3 of 4 frontline workers want to be promoted but less than 1 in 4 achieves it
  • Over a lifetime, only 30% of all frontline workers move to a higher income quintile
  • On average, Black and Latino frontline workers make 20 percent less than White frontline workers.
  • Black and Hispanic frontline workers report the lowest levels of sponsorship—nearly six in ten have no sponsor at all

Now is an important time for companies to reevaluate their relationships with employees on the frontline and ensure that investing in them is an integral part of their overall strategy. On August 29th, Lareina Yee and Monne Williams, partners at McKinsey and Company, discussed the experiences of frontline workers of color, the pathways from the front line to the middle class and what companies could do to improve job quality and better support workers’ development.

For more information please visit: www.mckinsey.com

Lareina is a senior partner and helps lead McKinsey’s work with technology disruptors. An expert on digital sales transformations, sales excellence, go-to-market strategies, and culture change, Lareina brings 20 years of experience to companies across the value chain. She previously served as McKinsey’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Lareina frequently speaks about women in business, including, most recently, Aspen Ideas Festival, Women Deliver, and a collaboration between McKinsey and The Wall Street Journal on a report titled, “Women in the workplace.” She writes and speaks widely on diversity and inclusion topics including appearances in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, CBS News, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and many other outlets. Additionally, Lareina was chosen Working Mother of the Year in 2016 by Working Mother magazine.

Monne is a part of the leadership team for McKinsey Academy, our center of excellence for capability building. She recently developed and codified a suite of enterprise-wide behavior change programs for Ability to Execute, a cutting-edge platform within McKinsey Academy designed to build individual capabilities to drive and sustain transformational change at scale. Since joining McKinsey, Monne has advised companies across multiple sectors looking to make step changes in performance. She works with clients to apply culture, change management, executive team development, and capability building as levers to expand and sustain their performance gains. In her consulting work, Monne has led more than ten transformations across industries and geographies. Monne serves as faculty for the Change Leaders Forum and several McKinsey Academy programs, and drives some of the firm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.