CEOs are driving an initiative to hire, train 1M Black workers over next 10 years

On this year’s anniversary of Martin Luther King Day, corporate America is stepping up its commitment to promoting and advancing diversity.

Just last week, Apple unveiled a series of new racial equity and justice projects as part of a $100 million investment announced in June 2019 to help combat racial inequality.

And Walmart is asking employees to honor King with a special fundraising campaign.

Both initiatives come as OneTen, a coalition of 37 leading CEOs and organizations, launched last month as a new initiative aimed at upskilling, hiring and advancing a million Black Americans over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.

Co-chaired by Merck CEO Ken Frazier and IBM chairwoman Ginni Rometty, OneTen connects employers with talent partners and leading non-profits who support the development of diverse talent. The program is specifically geared towards skilled individuals who do not yet have a four-year degree who are seeking careers with advancement opportunities and greater economic mobility.

“Our country’s workforce of the future will be an increasingly diverse one,” Frazier added. “Through the creation of one million jobs for Black Americans over the next 10 years, OneTen has the potential to address persistent inter-generational gaps in opportunity and wealth,” said Frazier said in press release last month.

Rometty added that the initiative is a critical step towards improving racial equality in America.

“This will not only help our individual companies but by removing structural barriers that have disproportionately hindered Black Americans from joining the middle-class, it will also help lift all Americans,” Rometty said. “By bringing together a coalition of key leaders and asking them to make long-term commitments, we have the ability to change employment practices and help break down systemic barriers opening the door to full participation in our economy.”

A spokesperson for OneTen told FOX Business that the organization’s corporate partners have made long-term commitments for the program’s first year in excess of $100 million and they hope to welcome even more.

“OneTen is a private sector-led mobilization and these companies are just the beginning. The actions of these large companies can have a ‘multiplier effect’ on smaller supply chain partners,” the company said in a statement. “We very much look forward to welcoming additional members, including small and medium businesses which power the majority of the U.S. economy. The work to achieve this will be difficult, but with OneTen, we are cultivating a comprehensive system that is committed to bringing together major employers and their suppliers, in partnership with our nation’s leading nonprofits and other skill credentialing organizations, to create a more flexible talent pipeline and practices that will allow employees and employers to thrive by shifting to a skill-first paradigm.”

Other founders leading OneTen’s working committee include chairman and managing director of General Catalyst and former Chairman and CEO of American Express, Ken Chenault, managing partner of Recognize, chairman of the Black Economic Alliance and former CEO of Infor, Charles Phillip, and former Amgen CEO and former faculty member at Harvard Business School, Kevin Sharer.

Companies that have partnered with OneTen include Accenture, ADP, Allstate, American Express, Amgen, Aon, AT&T, privately held Bain & Company, Bank of America, Cargill, Caterpillar, Cisco, Cleveland Clinic, Comcast, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, Eli Lilly, General Motors, HP Inc., Humana, Illinois Tool Works, Intermountain Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe’s, Medtronic, Nike, Nordstrom, PepsiCo, Roper Technologies, Stryker, Target, Trane Technologies, Verizon, Walmart and Whirlpool Corporation.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees in August that the company would double the percentage of Black officers and directors by 2025. Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren Corp. pledged on an Aug. 4 earnings call to allocate 20% of its leadership roles globally to people of color, including Black, Asian and Latino workers, by 2023. The fashion house also pledged to provide unconscious-bias training.

Meanwhile, Starbucks said in October it was aiming to have employees who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color represent at least 30% of its corporate workforce at all levels by 2025, and those who identify as people of color represent at least 40% of retail and manufacturing roles by 2025.

While not sharing any specific actions, McDonald’s said in July that it would pledge to increase the diversity of the fast-food restaurant chain’s leadership, noting it would address any hiring bias and reduce any “barriers for underrepresented populations” with hopes of being able to better represent the communities it serves.

The company also said it would enhance efforts to “attract and recruit diverse franchisees,” reduce barriers for diverse suppliers “to enter the McDonald’s system and increasing our spend in this space,” and monitor advertising and restaurant experiences “to ensure they reflect the needs of our customers.”