The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its initial Equality of Opportunity Agenda, calling for immediate, bold actions to close race-based opportunity gaps.
According to a July 9 release by The Chamber, the agenda calls for bold policy actions in four areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. The Chamber added in its release, each of the areas perpetuates broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth.
Earlier this year the Chamber reported a quarter of small businesses may close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chamber will provide draft legislation to support legislative efforts and guide the discussion addressing the goals of the agenda. The national agency will also work with its state and local affiliates, business associations, agencies, and policymakers to advance legislative action and enact the agenda’s stated policy changes.
“Closing opportunity gaps will require a large-scale, coordinated effort bringing together businesses of all sizes and sectors, leaders at the local, state, and federal levels, and academic and nonprofit partners,” said Suzanne P. Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Two weeks ago, we convened the business community to listen and learn—now it’s time to act. We believe the business community can serve as a catalyst for addressing these longstanding, systemic challenges.
The recommendations concerning education and employment include supporting more equitable funding, improving accountability and transparency in education. The Chamber also recommended promoting college and career readiness, promoting diversity in corporate leadership throughout the workforce and encouraging impactful investment and job training programs in low-income areas.
When it comes to entrepreneurship and criminal justice reform, the recommendations includes improving access to capital and entrepreneurial resources for Black-owned businesses. Increasing supply chain diversity and reducing barriers to licenses and certifications and improving educational opportunities for incarcerated populations.
Rick Wade, the vice president of strategic alliances and outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told Black Enterprise the Chamber is taking real action in closing racial gaps in business, education, wealth and criminal justice reform.
“We all have a role to play in advancing equality of opportunity. Strengthening Black-owned businesses is critical to creating a more inclusive economy. I am thrilled that the U.S. Chamber, the largest business advocacy organization in the world, is not just talking, but taking real action towards lasting change in America.”