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Equality in the U.S. Starts with Better Jobs

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Equality in the U.S. Starts with Better Jobs

Image: halfdark/Getty Images. Article by Zeynep Ton – Harvard Business Review.

Americans are demanding a reckoning.

Incidents of police brutality and structural inequities that have caused the pandemic to hit people of color especially hard are sparking calls for racial justice. The precarious conditions endured by poorly paid frontline workers who have continued to stay on the job during the pandemic have generated calls for economic justice.  Each of these forms of injustice has distinct drivers, but they amplify each other and often fall hardest on the same people. As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, economic and racial justice are inexorably linked. […]

This problem won’t be solved by upskilling or improving education — the current focus of the President’s Workforce Advisory Board. Future job growth is expected largely in low-wage jobs such as health aides, food and cleaning services, and laborer occupations. Most of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations — 55% of projected job growth — pay below the median wage. Think of the U.S. economy as an enormous ship with a hole in its hull. Those in the lower decks are at risk of drowning. Upskilling may move some of them to a dry deck, but there isn’t room there for all, and, anyway, the ship is still sinking. We need to fix the hole right now so no one drowns. […]

Investors. Since I’ve started working with companies, I’ve seen how infrequently their leaders take a long-term view. Even after believing in the financial and competitive reasons to offer good jobs, some shy away from investing in their employees. Why? They fear a dip in profitability. “Anything that doesn’t yield a return in a year doesn’t make it,” I hear. […]

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