Who We Are

BLU Statement on Racial Equity and Inclusion

For more than a decade, Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) has supported business leaders as they advocate for advancing high-quality skills training policies at the state and national level that help build the workforce businesses need to growAs an initiative of National Skills Coalition (NSC), BLU is committed to working with business leaders to promote inclusive skills training policies purposefully designed to advance workforce opportunities and outcomes for people of color so that workers, businesses, and the economy can thrive.   

Racial diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths and positions us to compete in the 21st century global economy. By 2030, people of color will make up more than half of the national workforce, and by 2044, most U.S. residents will be people of color. Strengthening racial equity in the workforce will benefit workers, businesses, and the economy as a wholeIndeed, more than 25 percent of the growth in productivity between 1960 and 2008 was associated with reducing occupational barriers for Black people and women.  

However, there are large racial disparities in education, employment, and earnings that hurt people and businesses.  For example, only 27 percent of U.S.-born Black people have an associate degree or higher compared to 45 percent of U.S.-born white people 

Public policy decisions have played a key role in forming these disparitiesFor instance, Black workers were excluded from ambitious college-to-career programs like the original G.I. Bill, and training programs within federal anti-poverty policies were replaced by “work first” provisions, which left workers with little access to any skills training that would help business get the workers they need to grow and succeed. Today, workers of color are disproportionately enrolled in our nation’s least resourced workforce development programs where there are not enough resources for even the most modest of skills training services.  

Now is the time to examine and improve current workforce policies and craft new ones to purposefully promote opportunities and outcomes for workers of color. BLU is working to: 

  • Make college work for working people, businesses, and our economy by addressing barriers to the range ofskills training options in post-secondary educationthat particularly affect Black, Brown, and Indigenous students. 

  • Close the digital skill divide, which disproportionately impacts workers of color due to historic underinvestment and long-standing policy barriers. 

  • Invest in a diverse, multigenerational workforce trained to power our infrastructure by increasing training opportunities for workers of color who are underrepresented in the infrastructure sector. 

  • Make the workforce system more inclusive (e.g. apprenticeships, WIOA, workforce partnerships) so that it works better for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and small business owners.  

Within each of these areas, BLU will promote policies that strengthen the capacity of sector/workforce partnerships between employers, educators, trainers, and community organizations to shape industry-specific training, hiring, and career opportunities that result in an inclusive talent ecosystem that eliminates chronic racial disparitiesWe will also advocate for skills training investments that result in quality jobs for workers and initiatives that help employers create these jobs so they caneffectively attract and retainworkers.  

Throughout 2023 and beyond, BLU is committed to centering racial equity in our policy advocacy, and helping build a national skills training system that providesrobust access to skills training for communities of color. We are planning to: 

  • Create a structure for BLU members to inform our policy recommendations and advocacy activities in relation to our racial equity and inclusion commitment.  

  • Educate our network about how policies have built barriers for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities and how working to remove them can strengthen workers and employers. We will include these messages in our materials and network correspondence and partner with organizations representing business leaderof color to help us understand the hurdles facing their members.  

  • Provide case examples of how businesses are changing their internal skills training and worker support policies to advance diversity, equity and inclusion alongside federal and state policy change.  

  • Focus on building partnerships with Black, Brown and Indigenous business leaders and business organizations serving them to integrate their perspectives and lived experiences into our policy development and help to raise their voices in advocacy activities 

By setting these goals, we are ultimately striving to help bring diverse business perspectives to the policymaking table and advocate for inclusive skills training policies that will support opportunities and outcomes for workers of color. A strong workforce that better reflects our communities is good for our economy and businesses. BLU will rely on NSC to analyze our policy platform to help us identify and advocate for legislation that will move the needle for communities of color and employers 

NSC has already committed to centering racial equity in its work, and we are excited to follow suit. We look forward to collaborating with new and current members and community partners to advocate for meaningful policy change that will strengthen workers of color, businesses, and local economies