Racial Equity and Justice Business Roundtable Launches Initiative to Place Greater Emphasis on Skills in Hiring and Advancement, Improve Equity and Diversity in Employment

Dec 4, 2020

Washington, DC – Business Roundtable today announced the launch of a new, multi-year effort to reform companies’ hiring and talent management practices to emphasize the value of skills, rather than just degrees, and to improve equity, diversity and workplace culture. The new initiative will also support efforts to address inequities in employment, both in the recruitment process and in advancement opportunities, and to work toward eliminating unintentional bias that may prove a barrier to hiring and advancement.

“Opportunities for employment and advancement can and should come from more than degree programs. As leaders of some of the largest companies in America, our goal should be to recognize individuals’ potential to grow and contribute to our businesses,” said Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, Chair of the Business Roundtable Education and Workforce Committee and Chair of the organization’s Racial Equity and Justice Subcommittee on those issues.

Representing every sector of the economy, over 80 Business Roundtable member companies and counting have signed on to participate in this effort and are implementing new recruitment and assessment strategies to better recognize and evaluate skills of all job seekers. Companies are also identifying upward career paths that employees can navigate by acquiring new and/or different skills along their career journey. And companies are developing and updating training programs to help employees gain the skills they need to advance.

“We need to ensure that we offer new and diverse onramps to careers. For example, if someone without a degree has an interest in and an aptitude for our work, can we offer training and a pathway to be hired? If a current employee wishes to advance, can we support upskilling or reskilling?,” said Barra. “Diversifying our training, hiring and development allows us all to be more inclusive of all backgrounds and is an important step in addressing racial inequities and creating opportunities for everyone.”

Regarding the recruitment, hiring and promotion processes, some of the actions companies can take to address unintentional bias include:

  • Rewriting job descriptions to focus on the skills needed to succeed in the job.
  • Reviewing existing assessment tools and adopting new standard interview processes to screen candidates to determine the level of skills required to perform the job.
  • Developing and publishing transparent job advancement pathways for their current workforce that can be navigated by meeting specific training milestones and skill acquisitions.  
  • Creating and using training modules that teach employees new skills needed to meet job advancement milestones. Training can be delivered through on-the-job experience (e.g., mentorships and apprenticeships), online learning platforms and/or partnerships with external education and training providers. 
  • Recognizing and rewarding employees who complete credentials or certifications valued by the company.

Participating companies include: Abbott, Accenture, ADP, The AES Corporation, Aflac Incorporated, Alliant Energy Corporation, Altec, Inc., American Electric Power, American Express Company, American Tower Corporation, Aon, Assurant, Inc., AT&T Inc., Bank of America Corporation, Baxter International Inc., Bechtel Group, Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., BorgWarner, CF Industries, Chevron Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Citigroup Inc., Cummins Inc., Cushman & Wakefield, CVS Health, Day & Zimmermann, Dell Technologies, Delta Air Lines, Dow, Duke Energy Corporation, DXC Technology, Eastman, Eaton, Edison International, EY, FedEx Corporation, Fiserv, Flex, Gap Inc., General Dynamics Corporation, General Motors Company, Hearst, Humana, IBM Corporation, Interpublic Group, JPMorgan Chase & Co., KeyCorp, Land O'Lakes, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Mastercard, Mattel, McKinsey & Company, Medtronic, Inc., MetLife, Inc., Moody’s, Northrop Grumman Corporation, PepsiCo, Pfizer Inc., Pitney Bowes Inc., Principal, Progressive Insurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, SAP, SAS, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc., State Farm, Steelcase Inc., Synchrony, Target Corporation, Tractor Supply Co., Union Pacific Corporation, United Airlines, Verisk Analytics, Verizon Communications, Visa, Inc., Vistra Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., Walmart, Wells Fargo & Company, Western Union, Workday, World Wide Technology, Inc., Xylem Inc., Zebra Technologies and Zoetis.

The launch of this new effort comes just weeks after Business Roundtable CEOs announced corporate initiatives and public policy recommendations to advance racial equity and justice and reduce the economic opportunity gap in communities of color. Employment is one of the six systems CEOs are addressing through the work of the organization’s Special Committee on Racial Equity and Justice, and this new corporate initiative is an output of these efforts.

For more information, visit www.brt.org/workforceskills