A group of CEOs from well-known companies launched an initiative aimed at closing the opportunity gap for one million Black Americans over the next decade. The effort, called OneTen, has support from a coalition of 37 companies including Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Cisco, Accenture, Trane Technologies, HP, and Lowe’s.

Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier is a OneTen co-chair. “Many times, companies require four-year degrees for the kinds of jobs that really do not require a four-year degree,” Frazier told CBS This Morning. “We’re trying to urge companies to take a skills-first approach rather than a credentials approach, which will eliminate some of the systemic barriers that African Americans have faced.”

Frazier and his co-chair, former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, pointed out that companies are overlooking a large talent pool, exacerbating disparities. Census Bureau data show that around 36% of all Americans ages 25 and over had a four-year college degree in 2019, but the same was true for only 26% of Black Americans in the same age group.

For the Plug In South LA Beat, our regular curation of must-read innovation and tech news, we’re taking a closer look at how OneTen emphasizes soft skills rather than hard skills for diverse talent development:

Ken Frazier, Ginni Rometty and Other CEOs Pledge to Train and Hire 1 Million Black Workers in 10 Years

A Step in the Right Direction: CEOs Pledge to Train and Hire One Million Black Workers in the Next 10 Years

Photo: Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier. Credit: Bill Bernstein/Merck