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IBM, Merck, Nike, Others Connect to Hire 1 Million Black Americans

Top executives across 30 businesses -- including Merck, Nike and IBM -- plan to connect and hire black workers, according to a media report.

Top executives across more than 30 American businesses -- including Merck  (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. Report, Nike  (NKE) - Get NIKE, Inc. Class B Report and IBM  (IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report -- are connecting to hire black workers, according to a media report.

A new coalition called OneTen will provide training to help 1 million black Americans succeed in business over the next 10 years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The nonprofit has so far recruited more than 35 company backers and raised more than $100 million in seed funding.

Merck Chief Executive Ken Frazier told the WSJ that OneTen will focus on helping black Americans without four-year college degrees find and retain family-sustaining jobs, or those that pay at least $40,000 or more depending on where the positions are located.

By forming the initiative, the CEOs acknowledge "that the efforts they undertook in recent years haven’t made a meaningful difference for black Americans," Frazier, who is black, told the Journal. 

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He said the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis police custody in May and the ensuing protests prompted corporate leaders to reexamine their initiatives and join forces.

"All of us would agree that what we’re doing now isn’t working to the extent that we want it to work,” Frazier added.

Black people make up 12.4% of the U.S. population but 8% of professionals, a number that has stayed steady since 2013, according to a study by the New York nonprofit group Center for Talent Innovation. 

Black people hold 3.2% of senior executive positions, the group said in the WSJ.

Ginni Rometty, executive chairman and former CEO at IBM, told the WSJ that companies backing OneTen will share their best practices and insights to ensure current black workers are promoted. 

OneTen plans to appoint a chief executive soon and set up offices in cities across the country. “Think of us as a startup and we will keep expanding and expanding,” she told the Journal.