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IBM, Merck and OneTen launch network to recruit and promote Black workers over the next decade

June 29, 2021, 2:27 PM UTC

International Business Machines Corp. and Merck & Co. will form the core of a national hiring and training network created by OneTen, a coalition of major U.S. employers that has promised to help hire and promote 1 million Black workers into higher-paying jobs over the next decade.

The new OneTen virtual network, announced Tuesday, is designed to allow employers, employees, and training groups to collaborate on career development, job postings and recruitment as part of the initiative to get Black workers without 4-year degrees into higher-skilled jobs that pay, on average, $50,000 a year.

“We’re trying to turn a fragmented system into an ecosystem,” said Maurice Jones, chief executive of OneTen.

The 50-member group currently has about 850,000 Black workers, some of which the member companies will work to promote. Jones estimates that the group will need to hire an additional 500,000 workers to reach its million worker goal. 

“If we don’t hit the scale we need, then we won’t have success with this bold ambition of one million,” said Jones, a former Obama administration official who was hired in January as OneTen’s first CEO.

U.S. companies have come under rising pressure from investors, employees, and activists to increase workforce diversity and give more opportunities to minorities after last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Black Americans consistently have higher unemployment rates than White people and trail in promotions and pay.

IBM and Merck are working with Bain & Co. alongside consultant and talent management companies to develop the pilot network, which is scheduled to be fully available starting in the fourth quarter.

In addition to the virtual network, the initiative will run programming in about 25 metro areas, including Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta, each coordinated by a different member company, Jones said. IBM will focus on training tech hires in the Raleigh, North Carolina area; Merck will work in Raleigh-Durham and Philadelphia. The pharmaceutical giant is in the process of revising it hiring processes after a year-long review and will focus on manufacturing and IT jobs. The companies will team up with pre-existing staffing groups, where possible, to bring them into the network, Jones said. 

OneTen also is working to encourage more training in manufacturing, human resources, and sales. Whirlpool Corp., one of the member companies, will focus on manufacturing and customer service jobs, the group said. About 400,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled, Jones said.

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