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Robert Johnson: Companies will hire more Black workers when pressured by investors

Robert Johnson: Companies will hire more Black workers when pressured by investors
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Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), on Monday said companies will be more inclined to hire Black workers if their investors pressure them to do so.

In an interview on CNBC's "Closing Bell," Johnson said that companies will begin to take racial inequality within their businesses more seriously when it starts to affect their bottom line.

“Companies understand return on investment capital. They understand return on equity. They understand total shareholder return,” Johnson said. “Tie all of those factors to achieving opportunities in employment at all levels for Black Americans, I think then you’ll see results because that’s what companies understand."

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Johnson was responding to the findings of a newly released McKinsey & Company report on Black employment. The report stated that Black Americans are underrepresented in management roles within the private sector, with only 7 percent securing employment at a managerial level and roughly 4 to 5 percent becoming senior managers, vice presidents or senior vice presidents.

“On the current trajectory, it will take about 95 years for Black employees to reach talent parity (or 12 percent representation) across all levels in the private sector,” the report states.

Johnson said he believes private companies will only work to address racial disparities within the workforce if they are held accountable for failing.

“Shareholders should hold them accountable for it once it’s in their charter,” Johnson said, adding that proxy advisory firms could “look at the whole concept of a ‘no’ vote against companies that fail to commit to this kind of racial parity or basically closing the employment gap.”