Embrace Opportunity Employment to Build the Workforce of the Future

Last month, the Business Roundtable (BRT) acknowledged the evolving role and purpose of business in the 21st century by updating its Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. In it, the CEOs of America’s leading companies argue, “The long-term success of these companies and the U.S. economy depends on businesses investing in the economic security of their employees and the communities in which they operate.”

We could not agree more.

We especially applaud the BRT’s explicit focus on employees as a critical facet of this new commitment. Of course, operationalizing on this new statement of purpose will be no small feat. As the impact of this far-reaching and potentially disruptive new outlook becomes clear, new questions arise. What does it actually look like for an employer to invest in their employees? How will BRT members and other like-minded employers measure success? How might stakeholders hold employers accountable in this updated worldview?

Successfully navigating this transition is critical because the nature of work is changing. Both workers and employers face the effects of globalization, shifting demographics, increasing automation, and a growing gig economy. While a forward thinking manager could anticipate one or some of these changes, no one should be expected to account for them all. The challenge then is to design and build new employment systems that confront today’s challenges while staying open to tomorrow’s. 

In a time of growing economic inequality we believe that the workplace of tomorrow—the one that will be most competitive in attracting and retaining talent—is one where employers are providing economic dignity, creating good jobs, training their employees for new technological advances, and redefining the workplace experience for all employees.

This is what it means to be  an Opportunity Employer. Opportunity Employers commit to the principles and practices of Opportunity Employment—principles and practices that prioritize economic opportunity and mobility for all workers and lead to increased retention, diversity, employee engagement and stronger performance for entry-level and frontline workers while generating business value for the company. In short, it’s about creating a workplace where people of all backgrounds are valued and can thrive.

Our organizations, Talent Rewire (an initiative of FSG) and Grads of Life, collaborated to define and publish the Opportunity Employment principles and practices that are simultaneously good for employees and the bottom line. Our framework builds on years of engaging with employers, and in partnership with a community of experts that includes B Lab, BSR, Generation, Good Jobs Institute, JUST Capital, National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Skillful, and many other leaders. In order to make these findings actionable and measurable, we created the Opportunity Navigator—a free, online tool that allows employers to assess their progress against the best practices of Opportunity Employment. The Navigator provides a customized scorecard with strengths and opportunities for additional impact, along with resources that can support employers in taking action.

We’ve taken these steps in part because we know how challenging it can be for employers to move from a commitment to employees to taking the steps needed to prioritize opportunity and mobility for all. We invite BRT members and their industry peers to join the Opportunity Employer movement. Taking the quick assessment to see how your company scores through the Navigator tool is a great first step.

No matter what the future economy holds for business and society, we know one thing is certain: the changing landscape of work requires companies to invest in their employees and ensure that each and every one of them has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We believe the best and most sustainable path forward to achieve this is by becoming an Opportunity Employer. In the end, the companies that embrace these practices will be at a competitive advantage.

To learn more about Opportunity Employment and how your company can empower employees, come explore the Opportunity Navigator.

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