Former Merck CEO Hopes to Close Opportunity Gap Created by ‘Bachelor Barrier’ Through OneTen Initiative

Merck CEO Ken Frazier Montgomery county
Image via Jennifer S. Altman, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Merck CEO Ken Frazier at the company's headquarters.

Kenneth Frazier, former CEO of Merck, the pharmaceutical giant with sizable operations in West Point, and his coalition of business leaders aim to close the opportunity gap created by the “bachelor barrier” by hiring or promoting one million Black workers, writes Erin Arvedlund for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The “bachelor barrier” refers to the undergraduate degree requirement that is not met by many African Americans and other people of color. This then prevents them from getting a promotion or a new job.

Dubbed OneTen, the new initiative wants to create family-sustaining careers for Black talent, especially those who do not have college degrees. OneTen enlists companies to hire employees based on their skills and aptitude and not their bachelor’s degree credential.

Upper Gwynedd-based Frazier, who retired from Merck last year, is spearheading the OneTen organization, which gathers leaders from nearly 70 companies, including IBM, United Airlines, and Berkshire Hathaway. Together, they have pledged to hire or promote a million Black workers in the next ten years.

“There’s a lot of talent spread across this country, and talent is evenly distributed,” said Frazier. “But opportunity is not.”

Read more about former Merck CEO Ken Frazier’s OneTen Initiative program in The Philadelphia Inquirer.


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