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A Message from Deputy Secretary Don Graves

Dear Business Leaders,

As Deputy Secretary of Commerce, I am writing to you and your members to underscore the importance of continuing our collective work toward advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). DEIA initiatives are not just cornerstones of corporate responsibility but are also critical for America's growth, innovation, and economic competitiveness.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently confirmed that “[i]t remains lawful for employers to implement diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility programs that seek to ensure workers of all backgrounds are afforded equal opportunity in the workplace.”[1] Our mission at the Department of Commerce is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities. We firmly believe that diversity and inclusion are not just morally right but also strategically smart.

Studies have consistently shown that businesses and institutions with diverse teams make better decisions and contribute substantially to the competitiveness of our nation's businesses. For example, a McKinsey study found that in 2019 companies that were in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity among corporate executives outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in profitability.[2] Likewise, a Journal of Management Studies article found a positive relationship between board racial diversity and both firm reputation and innovation.[3] And a Boston Consulting Group study revealed that companies with above-average diversity on their leadership teams reported 19% more innovation revenue than companies with below-average leadership diversity.[4] These companies reported better overall financial performance as well.[5]

The implications of these findings are profound. Businesses that prioritize diversity within their leadership ranks are better positioned to adapt to rapidly changing markets, leverage a wider range of perspectives, and capitalize on new opportunities.

Moreover, businesses must respond to the needs of an ever-diversifying U.S. customer base.[6] The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2044, 50.3% of the national population will be people of color.[7] In today’s marketplace, where customer preferences and demands can vary significantly across different regions and demographics, a diverse workforce is a strategic advantage.

We at the Department of Commerce stand committed to supporting your work in this space. Our mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities. The Department has implemented a range of programs in service of this mission. For example, we launched the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge through the Economic Development Administration. These once-in-a-generation investments are designed to expand career opportunities for Americans to reach their full potential and secure good-paying jobs while producing a skilled workforce to ensure the United States is prepared to innovate, compete, and succeed in today’s global economy. We also recently announced the Business Diversity Principles Initiative, which we expect will serve as a tool for businesses to collect and share best practices to embed and operationalize DEIA in their operations.

In closing, I would like to reaffirm the importance of our collective, continued commitment to DEIA initiatives. Not only do diverse teams enhance the competitiveness of U.S. companies, but they also contribute to creating an economy that works for everyone. Together, we can ensure that our nation continues to lead in innovation, growth, and opportunity.

Thank you for your members’ efforts and commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within their organizations.


Don Graves
Deputy Secretary of Commerce



[1] U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Statement from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows on Supreme Court Ruling on College Affirmative Action Programs,” (June 29, 2023), https://www.eeoc.gov/newsroom/statement-eeoc-chair-charlotte-burrows-su…

[2] McKinsey & Company, “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” (May 19, 2020), https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/dive…

[3] Huse, M., Nielsen, S., & Hagen, I. M., “Demographic Diversity in the Boardroom: Mediators of the Board Diversity-Firm Performance Relationship,” Journal of Management Studies, (May 26, 2009) 46 (5), 755-786. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2009.00839.x

[4] Boston Consulting Group, “How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation,” (January 23, 2018), https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boos…

[5] Boston Consulting Group, “How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation.” (January 23, 2018), https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boos…

[6] Deloitte, “The Business Case for Diversity,” (February 2017), https://www.deloitte.com/content/dam/assets-zone1/au/en/docs/services/c…

[7] U.S. Census Bureau, “Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060,” (March 2015), https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/dem…