There’s no arguing when it comes to inequality in America. It has been woven into the very fabric of everything we stand for, from the U.S. Constitution to the American flag. For years, minorities in America, especially African Americans, had to endure the blowback of a nation rooted in selfish wealthiness. Merck CEO and chairman Ken Frazier, along with others, hopes to close the economic racial gap that has many in America well below the poverty line. Ken Frazier and other top CEOs have launched a new initiative called OneTen. Frazier, along with former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, appeared on CBS This Morning this past Thursday to talk more about their plan to help millions of African American families.
“Many times, companies require four-year degrees for the kinds of jobs that really do not require a four-year degree,” Frazier explained to CBS This Morning host Gayle King. This requirement usually ends up doing more harm than good. The statement rings true for African Americans. According to reports from the Census conducted in 2019, only 26% of African Americans have a four-year degree. “And so what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to urge companies to take a skill first approach rather than a credentials approach, which will eliminate some of the systemic barriers that African Americans have faced,” says Frazier.
In a world populated by talent and skills of untapped potential, many African Americans don’t get the same chance many of their fellow white Americans get. Ginni Rometty talked about how IBM has changed its outlook on potential employees. Rometty says that all companies are in need of talent and “there’s a large talent pool in America we’re not tapping into” by having four-year degree criteria for the majority of corporate roles.
“We’ve been at this at IBM for almost eight years and we’re a great proof point of this,” she says while adding that at IBM they no longer require a four-year degree for 43% of their positions. OneTen will work to help bridge the gap between employers and the pool of talent in the country.
OneTen has partnered with some major companies in an effort to bring communication and support development in the community. Companies like Nike, Target, Walmart, Comcast, Delta Air, and more on the horizon.
“OneTen links our companies with the critical work we know we need to do to improve racial equity in America,” Rometty said in a statement to the press. “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.”
Other founding members of OneTen include Ken Chenault, chairman and managing director of General Catalyst and former chairman and CEO of American Express; Charles Phillips, managing partner of Recognize, chairman of the Black Economic Alliance and former CEO of Infor, Kevin Sharer, former chairman and CEO of Amgen and former faculty member at Harvard Business School.