Minority Business Chiefs Call On Firms To Do More To Close Racial Gaps

Source: Michael A. Fletcher / The Washington Post

An influential group of black and Hispanic business leaders is calling on the nation’s leading corporations to agree to interview black and Hispanic candidates before filling every top job and board position.

The group of 30 executives and corporate board members met at the W Hotel in Washington on Wednesday at the behest of African American businessman Robert L. Johnson, who has been pushing for President Obama to address the yawning employment gap that has long separated white workers from black and Hispanic workers.

Johnson, chairman of the RLJ Cos. and founder of Black Entertainment Television, said the gap could be narrowed if Obama used the bully pulpit to encourage U.S. corporations to voluntarily embrace a plan to interview at least two qualified black or Hispanic candidates for every job at the vice president level or higher. He said companies should also interview two minority-owned firms for vendor supply and other contracts.

The suggestion is based on the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates seeking head coaching or general manager jobs before making hiring decisions. That measure is credited with helping to increase the number of black NFL head coaches and front-office executives.

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