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Steve Ballmer urges CEOs to help close racial economic gaps

Steve Ballmer on white CEOs stepping up
Los Angeles Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer on why white CEOs need to discuss race and take action 10:42

Steve Ballmer, chairman of the Los Angles Clippers, is calling on corporate leaders to help close the yawning economic gaps that are leaving many black Americans behind.

"How do we give that kind of economic upside to more African-Americans?" Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, said in an interview with Gayle King on Friday on CBS This Morning. "If you look at economic mobility data, it's not very good for African-Americans, and particularly for African-American males."

The economic inequalities that exist between black and white families have been underscored by the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Many of the rosy economic figures routinely touted by both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations in recent years don't reflect the harsher economic reality facing millions of black Americans. For instance, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times that of black households, at $171,000 to $17,150, respectively, according to the Brookings Institution. 

Companies can play an important role in that narrowing such gaps, Ballmer told King. 

"It means investing in the communities, it means investment in early childhood education, it means working on the schools, it means improving the safety of the environment and the role of the police in those environments, it means getting people into college," he said.

Ballmer added that white Americans and corporate leaders should aim to be an "ally of these causes."

Asked by King about his conversations following Floyd's death with Los Angeles Clippers players and coaches, Ballmer said the discussions drove home how the "smallest things in life can cause a negative interaction for a black person," including interactions with police.

"You can take the uniform off and you're right back in the mix with other black men," he said.

Ballmer also condemned the behavior of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Department officer charged with Floyd's murder.

Ballmer added that he is saddened and enraged by Floyd's death. "It's maddening to me that not more has been done, that people like me and others haven't been able to contribute more," he said. "The behavior of that officer, oh my gosh, it's awful, it's terrible."

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