Policy recommendations part of a broader effort informed by data and conversations with hundreds of business, government, academic, and civic leaders
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today released its initial Equality of Opportunity Agenda, calling for immediate, bold policy actions and private sector solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in four critical areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. Each of these areas perpetuate broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying organization in the nation representing businesses of all sizes across all sectors, is committed to putting the collective muscle of American business behind the Equality of Opportunity Agenda. The agenda was shaped by conversations during the National Summit on Equality of Opportunity, the ongoing national dialogue on opportunity gaps affecting Black Americans, and a clear understanding that past efforts on these issues have been insufficient.
The Chamber will provide draft legislation to guide the federal policy discussion and support legislative efforts that address the goals of the Equality of Opportunity Agenda. At local and state levels, the Chamber will work with its federation of state and local chambers of commerce as well as other business associations, agencies, and policymakers to advance legislative action and enact the agenda’s stated policy changes.
“Closing opportunity gaps will require a large-scale, coordinated effort bringing together businesses of all sizes and sectors, leaders at the local, state, and federal levels, and academic and nonprofit partners,” said Suzanne P. Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Two weeks ago, we convened the business community to listen and learn—now it’s time to act. We believe the business community can serve as a catalyst for addressing these longstanding, systemic challenges. Together, we can advance the Equality of Opportunity Agenda and ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to earn their success, rise on their merit, and live their own American Dream.”
In addition, the Chamber will continue to drive a national conversation on how the business community can help close opportunity gaps by scaling and implementing best practices. Central to this effort, the Chamber also will be hosting future National Summits to educate and inspire public and private sector leaders to take further actions in addressing the conditions and obstacles faced by Black Americans and other underrepresented communities. The Chamber will also consider additional actions to take over the course of this long-term initiative.
Among the more than 30 policy recommendations and private sector solutions that comprise the initial Equality of Opportunity Agenda across its four key areas are:
- Support more equitable funding and improve accountability and transparency in education
- Promote career and college readiness
- Promote diversity in corporate leadership and throughout the workforce
- Encourage impactful investment and job training programs in low-income areas
- Improve access to capital and entrepreneurial resources for Black-owned businesses
- Increase supply chain diversity and reduce barriers to licenses and certifications
- Criminal Justice Reform:
- Improve education opportunities for incarcerated populations
- Expand fair chance and second chance hiring
“Addressing America’s opportunity gaps is the smart thing for our economy and our collective future,” said Rick Wade, Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “But above all, it is the right thing for a strong society that values the dignity and promise of every man, woman, and child. By committing ourselves to continuing the conversations sparked by the National Summit and taking the actions outlined in this agenda, we can reclaim and reaffirm the American promise of equal opportunity for all.”
View the Equality of Opportunity Agenda at uschamber.com/equality-agenda.
Learn more about the Equality of Opportunity Initiative.