According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the median Black family in the United States has a net worth of less than $4,000, a fraction of the median white family’s $147,000 net worth. This inequity is perpetuated by the fact that approximately 70% to 80% of family-sustaining jobs—those with annual wages between $40,000 and $60,000, or more—require a four-year college degree. This is a key barrier for many Black Americans, 76% of whom do not have a four-year degree (compared with 66% of white Americans), according to the US Census Bureau.
The OneTen solution: Change the human capital paradigm in the US to one that is more skills oriented, allowing talented individuals to enjoy the dignity and financial stability that a thriving career can offer. CEO-led, OneTen has committed to working toward the hiring, promotion, and advancement of 1 million Black individuals without a four-year degree into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years.
The leaders of the more than 45 member companies have pledged to:
- significantly increase their hiring of Black talent without four-year degrees;
- improve their retention and advancement practices in order to support diverse talent;
- identify and share best practices across the coalition; and
- contribute more than $100 million, collectively, to launch the OneTen organization and foster the necessary national and local ecosystems.
Bain, together with The Bridgespan Group, has supported OneTen from the initial recruiting of member companies to launching operations in a way that will enable the organization to make meaningful progress on its mission in the first year.
A core tenet of OneTen is helping employer members change the credentials for jobs that currently require a four-year degree but could be better served by other modes of training, including those focused on developing specific skills. A college degree is inherently valuable and warranted in many roles, but it should not be the only screening device or a proxy for the hard and soft skills needed in the workplace. Making it a requirement for most family-sustaining jobs needlessly limits the pool of skilled candidates, and as an approach, it’s outdated. The tech industry, for example, has long embraced a skills-first approach, hiring coders and others for their abilities, not their level of education.
At IBM, whose former CEO Ginni Rometty is also OneTen’s cochair, 50% of US jobs no longer require four-year degrees. The coalition works to codify best practices, like IBM’s skills-first hiring, and ensure they are shared across industries, helping members greatly reduce over the next 10 years the percentage of their family-sustaining jobs that require a four-year degree.
There are many organizations devoted to helping companies find a supply of Black talent in the United States today, but few are doing this at scale. “This is about careers, not just entry-level jobs,” says Frazier.
Corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We support individual clients on the journey to sustainably improve their DEI practices with all stakeholders, including their talent, marketplace, suppliers, and communities. Recently we spent several months with a global private equity fund, defining their DEI ambition and how they would help their more than 30 portfolio companies in North America make progress in that area. To begin, we explored the private equity firm’s starting point, goals, and perspective, as well as the approach it wanted to take with portfolio companies. We then conducted an in-depth listening tour with all portfolio company CEOs, invited their chief human resources officers to a cross-portfolio forum, and piloted several tools and resources.
The biggest takeaway: Even companies that had already been quite active in their journeys were able to identify many opportunities to further their DEI objectives. We left the fund with a pragmatic toolkit to support progress, including a survey tool to assess each portfolio company’s starting point on representation, attrition, and employee Net Promoter ScoreSM, as well as specific guidance on how to accelerate momentum in priority areas. Now the firm is mobilizing around its goal for DEI: to meet each portfolio company and individual leader where they are and leverage practical tools to advance DEI progress.
One by one, as companies progress on these measures, they become more attractive employers for top talent and reap the benefits of high-performing, diverse teams, setting themselves up to be more competitive in the long run. Ultimately, stronger, more inclusive companies will help build stronger, more inclusive communities.