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In June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce convened the National Summit on Equality of Opportunity, where leaders from across the private and public sectors discussed solutions to some of the underlying challenges driving inequality of opportunity for Black Americans and other people of color.
Driven by data and informed by conversations with these leaders, the U.S. Chamber developed the Equality of Opportunity Initiative (EOI) to advance private sector and policy solutions at the federal, state, and local level to help close race-based opportunity gaps in education, employment, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, health, and wealth.
The U.S. Chamber has partnered with 500+ chambers, associations, and businesses to address systemic inequalities in our society; hosted over 100 events, meetings, and briefings with various stakeholders; kicked off 10+ Chamber-wide EOI initiatives; and endorsed over a dozen legislative bills.
Some of the U.S. Chamber’s progress includes:
- Data and Research – Collected valuable data and developed a research report, America’s Opportunity Gaps: By the Numbers. New research and indices to come in 2021.
- Policies and Private Sector Solutions – Developed an initial Equality of Opportunity Agenda to advance private sector solutions and best practices, scale impactful programs, and drive policy action at the federal, state, and local levels.
- Legislation and Advocacy – Continued to advocate for federal and state legislation and endorsed several EOI-related bills that close the digital divide, promote investment in opportunity zones, expand the availability and quality of affordable childcare, and address other issues on our policy agenda.
- Task Forces – Established task forces dedicated to developing actionable strategies and initiatives to alleviate racial inequalities. The task forces include education, employment, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, health, and wealth.
- Programs, Initiatives, and Partnerships – Launched 10+ Chamber-wide initiatives and programs. Through partnerships with institutions like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and the Minority Business Development Agency, we have developed several tools and programs around diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as research, business roundtables, minority business surveys, and a corporate board diversity initiative, to name a few.
- Events – Convened stakeholders in industry, policy, academia, and the non-profit community to share ideas through over 100 events, meetings, and briefings on topics such as the future of business and education, access to capital for minority-owned businesses, diversity in clinical trials, and more. The Equality of Opportunity in Action event series was launched in December 2020 to take deep dives on topics ranging from board diversity to supplier diversity.
“Equality of opportunity is not only a moral imperative but a business imperative. Diversity spurs innovation and businesses that recognize and embrace diversity, equity and inclusion perform better across multiple metrics,” said Rick Wade, senior vice president of strategic alliances and outreach. “While the work to address our country’s inequalities isn’t easy, it must be done, and we are making progress. The U.S. Chamber, along with the business community, is advancing private and public sector solutions to build a more inclusive America and ensure equality of opportunity for all people.”
According to a revealing study from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the American economy stands to gain $8 trillion by 2050 simply by closing the racial equity gap.
Here’s how some organizations are actively working to close the equity gap and creating equality of opportunity through real, tangible progress:
- Accenture committed to three corporate actions, including increasing representation of Black and Hispanic employees and managing directors; launching mandatory training on racism for all US employees; and identifying opportunities to collaborate with communities to promote equality, fight racism and create more opportunities for employment and advancement.
- Altria Group launched Inclusion and Diversity Aiming Points including goals of having equal numbers of men and women among its Vice Presidents and Directors; increasing its VPs and Directors who are Asian, Black, Hispanic, or two or more races to at least 30 percent; and increasing the number of its VPs and Directors who are LGBTQ+, a person with a disability, or a veteran.
- Boeing announced $10.6 million in grant funding to 20 nonprofits working to address racial equity and social justice in the U.S. The grants are focused on increasing the number of minority and underserved students pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and diversifying the aerospace talent pipeline.
- Genentech has developed a series of Diversity Network Associations (DNA) to reach out to underrepresented groups working in biotech, including women, veterans, the LGBTQ community, and racial minorities. They also invest in mentorship programs to provide low-income elementary schools with Genentech mentors to encourage STEM education and instill academic passion and interest within underprivileged youth.
- IBM discontinued use of its facial recognition software. In a letter to Congress, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company firmly opposes “any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values.”
- Microsoft Corporation Racial Equity Initiative: Strengthening Our Communities report, focuses on justice reform, affordable broadband, skills and education, and nonprofit empowerment. During this first year of their five-year initiative, they have deeply engaged with employees, expanded existing programs and piloted new ones, hired new employees to focus on this work, developed new partnerships, and deepened existing ones.
- Raytheon Technologies, as part of a multi-year plan to create meaningful and measurable progress advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, launched a 10-year, $500 million corporate responsibility initiative to advance equitable opportunities in STEM education, career development, and community wellbeing.
- The Deloitte Foundation donated $600,000 to nonprofit organizations in eight original COVID-19 hotspots across the country. These grants help students from underrepresented backgrounds and under resourced communities—primarily students of color—persist on pathways to college and career success.
Save the date for the second annual National Summit on Equality of Opportunity, Moving from Conversations to Real Action. Join the Chamber on Wednesday, June 23, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to hear from leaders across the private and public sectors discuss challenges, share successes, highlight best practices, and chart paths forward to ensure equality of opportunity for all.
Learn more and find ways to get involved at uschamber.com/EOI.