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Top CEOs vow to hire 1 million Black Americans

Executives announce the OneTen coalition
Executives announce OneTen coalition to promote meaningful employment for 1 million Black Americans 04:47

A group including some of the biggest U.S. companies is launching a nationwide campaign to hire 1 million Black Americans over the next decade, with a goal of economically uplifting communities of color.

The OneTen coalition — which has 37 members and which includes corporate giants such as AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Delta, General Motors, IBM, Nike, Merck, Verizon and Walmart — said they're specifically interested in Black workers who don't have a college degree.

"Many times companies require four-year degrees for the kinds of jobs that really do not require a four-year degree," Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier told CBS This Morning. "We're trying to urge companies to take a skills-first approach rather than a credentials approach."

Ginni Rometty, IBM's executive chairwoman and one of the founders of the group, said companies involved in OneTen are banding together because "we all need talent, and there's a large talent pool in America we're not tapping into." 

Other execs behind the group include Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express; Charles Phillips, chairman of the Black Economic Alliance and former CEO of Infor; and Kevin Sharer, former CEO of Amgen. Frazier and Rometty, former chief executive of IBM, will serve as co-chairs.

OneTen is targeting Black workers first, Rometty said, but the plan is to eventually seek out other racial groups. The coalition is also asking small and midsize businesses to join the cause.

Millions of U.S. jobs have vanished across all racial groups during the coronavirus pandemic, but Black and Hispanic workers have been hit harder than Whites. The November unemployment rate for Black Americans was 10.3%, compared to 8.3% for Hispanics, 6.7% for Asian Americans and 5.7% for White Americans, according to labor data. In May, the Black jobless rate reached nearly 17%, while overall unemployment topped out at 14.7%.

Narrowing the widening wealth gap

Historically higher Black unemployment and lower annual income, exacerbated by structural racism, have widened the wealth gap between Black and White households. Black families had $24,100 in wealth in 2019 compared to $188,200 in White families, according to Federal Reserve data.

Hiring more Black workers for higher-earning jobs at major companies will help shrink that gap, Frazier said. That could begin to "eliminate some of the systemic barriers that African-Americans have faced," he said.

The high cost of systemic racism in the U.S. 02:58

The Black Lives Matter protests that erupted soon after the police killing of George Floyd have pushed companies to publicly denounce racism. Companies have also vowed to hire more people of color and diversify their workplaces. Adidas, Best Buy and Wells Fargo have all announced diversity hiring targets.

"After the whole George Floyd killing, conversations were happening across kitchen tables as well as boardroom tables," Frazier said. 

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