• CEOs are collaborating to recruit 100,000 workers from New York’s low-income and minority communities by 2030, to address racial and economic inequities exacerbated by COVID-19.
  • Their pledge includes providing entry-level positions, apprenticeships and on-the-job learning at major US companies for 25,000 students from City University of New York (CUNY).
  • They include corporate leaders from AIG, Amazon, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Mastercard, Microsoft and Wells Fargo.
  • The companies will partner with education institutions such as CUNY, the city’s government, non-profits and community organizations.

The bosses of 27 US banking, tech, media, health and consulting firms have announced a collective goal to hire 100,000 New Yorkers from low-income and diverse communities by 2030.

The corporate leaders are working together on an initiative called the New York Jobs CEO Council. The aim is to equip young people from the city’s low-income and minority communities with the skills and resources they need for the jobs of the future.

The COVID-19 crisis has widened systemic racial and economic divides. New York City’s poorer neighbourhoods have been hardest hit, with Black and Latino residents suffering the highest death rates.

At the same time, the pandemic has pushed the world towards the deepest recession since the 1930s Great Depression. In June, the unemployment rate in New York City passed 20%.

Many young adults are facing bleak job and wage prospects. But even before the COVID-19 crisis, unemployment in the Bronx was 85% higher than in Manhattan. Meanwhile, jobs in high-demand fields were going unfilled.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about diversity, equity and inclusion?

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and political unrest have created a profound sense of urgency for companies to actively work to tackle racial injustice and inequality. In response, the Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society has established a high-level community of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers. The community will develop a vision, strategies and tools to proactively embed equity into the post-pandemic recovery and shape long-term inclusive change in our economies and societies.

As businesses emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, they have a unique opportunity to ensure that equity, inclusion and justice define the "new normal" and tackle exclusion, bias and discrimination related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity. It is increasingly clear that new workplace technologies and practices can be leveraged to significantly improve diversity, equity and inclusion outcomes.

The World Economic Forum has developed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Toolkit, to outline the practical opportunities that this new technology represents for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, while describing the challenges that come with it.

The toolkit explores how technology can help reduce bias from recruitment processes, diversify talent pools and benchmark diversity and inclusion across organisations. The toolkit also cites research that suggests well-managed diverse teams significantly outperform homogenous ones over time, across profitability, innovation, decision-making and employee engagement.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit is available here.

Creating a talent pipeline

Working with education leaders, the city’s government, community organizations and non-profits, the Jobs CEO Council wants to address these inequities with programmes that will help put the next generation of New Yorkers on “pathways to stable careers”. It will also create a pipeline of talent to fill in-demand jobs.

The pledge to hire 100,000 people from low-income and minority communities in the next decade includes helping 25,000 students from City University of New York (CUNY) secure entry-level positions, apprenticeships and on-the-job learning opportunities at the companies.

The co-chairs of the group are JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon; EY’s CEO and Global Chair Carmine Di Sibio; IBM CEO Arvind Krishna; Kevin Sneader, McKinsey & Company Global Managing Partner; and Accenture CEO Julie Sweet.

Jamie Dimon, chairman & CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co., speaks during the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RC12C874A310
JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon says the scheme will upskill the city’s workforce.
Image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Other member companies include AIG, Amazon, Bank of America, BlackRock, Bloomberg, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, The New York Times Company, Verizon, and Wells Fargo.

"Many New Yorkers are stuck in low-paying jobs that could be lost in the future or are struggling to navigate the labour market as the COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated the economic inequities in the city,” said Dimon, CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase.

“As companies with a long-standing commitment to the New York area and its residents, we are using our collective power to prepare the city's workforce with the skills of the future and helping New Yorkers who have been left behind get a foot in the door."

Hiring is one thing, but retaining staff in companies where corporate culture or institutional attitudes are still outdated remains a challenge.

Adwoa Bagalini, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at the World Economic Forum, advises taking a cautious approach: "Early talent recruiting initiatives like this one are a great start, but the real challenge comes later. Will employees from underrepresented backgrounds be given meaningful opportunities to develop and advance to more senior levels?"

While many companies have diversity in entry-level positions, the representation gap widens at middle and upper levels, unless specific interventions are implemented to address the challenges minorities face in advancing to more senior positions.

Says Bagalini: "Such initiatives could include formal mentoring and sponsorship programmes, measuring engagement survey responses by race or ethnicity, reviewing performance ratings by race or ethnicity to identify and mitigate adverse impacts, and implementing high-potential training programmes for people of colour.

"Without these targeted actions, talented employees are likely to grow frustrated and leave."