The goals are impressive:
- A pledge to hire or train more than 30,000 residents by 2030;
- A pledge to spend an additional $250 million on procurement with state-based, diverse companies by 2025;
- A challenge to their peers in the business community to produce an additional 40,000 jobs and $250 million in local purchasing;
- And a commitment to focus these efforts on underrepresented communities of color and other underserved communities.
The New Jersey CEO Council, an informal coalition of CEOs from some of the state’s largest companies, made that commitment Thursday.
Gov. Phil Murphy said — if accomplished — it will set the state on a better path forward.
“This pledge from some of our state’s largest and most well-known corporations is a potential game-changer for communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” he said in a statement. “We want to thank each and every one of them for stepping up in a time of need, and challenge other companies throughout New Jersey to join this important effort.”
The CEO Council arose from meetings of the governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission, named by Murphy in April to advise the administration and help with the safe reopening of the state’s economy.
The CEO Council is made up of the leaders of some of the state’s biggest and most influential companies, including: BD, Campbell Soup Co., Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Prudential Financial, Public Service Enterprise Group, RWJBarnabas Health, Verizon and Zoetis.
The coalition said it is challenging the rest of New Jersey’s corporate community to mirror its pledge and provide more inclusive opportunities to state residents by training or hiring an additional 40,000 workers from New Jersey by 2030, and by increasing spending with New Jersey-based businesses by another $250 million by 2025.
Ken Frazier, the chair and CEO of Merck who served as the co-chair of the governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission, said companies must do more.
“In this unprecedented time of economic upheaval, it is incumbent on good corporate citizens to step up and help ensure that New Jersey not only emerges from this pandemic, but does so as a more resilient and equitable state,” he said.
Beyond partnering with the public sector and nonprofit organizations, the coalition will create a series of novel programs, including the first statewide and first government-supported Career Impact Bond Fund, and a Procurement Center of Excellence, in order to achieve these goals.
Career Impact Bonds are a distinct form of income share agreement, designed to upskill low-income and underserved learners and workers to achieve economic mobility, made possible by leveraging philanthropic, corporate and, for the first time, government funding.
New Jersey will be the first state to launch and dedicate government resources toward a CIB Fund. CIBs pay for the cost of the training programs and wrap-around services on behalf of the student beneficiaries. Students then pay back the costs over time once they attain and maintain employment with a salary above a certain threshold. The repaid money is recycled to fund training for future students.
In addition, the CEO Council plans to help establish a Procurement Center of Excellence to provide resources and training to support the growth of diverse and small New Jersey-based suppliers to prepare them to work with the world’s largest corporations.
Here are some thoughts from members of the council:
Mark Clouse, CEO of Campbell Soup: “To support economic recovery efforts, Campbell is committed to providing job readiness and training to underserved New Jersey communities, beginning with our hometown of Camden, by partnering with the New Jersey Department of Labor and the Camden County One Stop Career Center.
“We also pledge to increase our procurement spend with New Jersey-based small and diverse suppliers by 25% by 2025.”
Bob Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health: “As the state’s largest and most comprehensive health network, Hackensack Meridian Health proudly supports this important effort by Gov. Murphy. Our state and nation have a lot of work to do to address the disparities that are evident in many spheres of life, including health care.
“Working together with the governor, along with other businesses and industries throughout the state, we are committed to driving positive change and providing more opportunities for our diverse communities.”
Alex Gorsky, chair and CEO of Johnson & Johnson: “During these challenging times, we believe that one of our greatest responsibilities is to the communities in which we live and work. We must ensure we’re doing our part to not only create opportunity for New Jersey, but to do so in a way that prioritizes diversity, inclusion and equity.”
John Harmon, CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey: “We applaud Gov. Murphy and his administration for two of their most recent announcements; the first initiative will provide $100 million in grants to New Jersey’s small businesses, who desperately need help in these difficult times; the second initiative will provide access to thousands of career opportunities with many of our employers throughout the state.
“Moreover, this same cohort of employers have committed to extend hundreds of millions of dollars in contract opportunities that will target, small, women- and minority-owned, New Jersey-based businesses. It is through these types of initiatives that we can bolster the confidence and faith of a multitude of businesses that want the opportunity to participate, compete and extend their value proposition while contributing to a more competitive New Jersey. This collective village approach, of engaging both the public and private sectors, to bring more New Jersey residents and businesses into the economy, is reflective of a ‘Stronger and Fairer’ New Jersey.”
Ralph Izzo, chair and CEO of PSEG: “PSEG is proud to work alongside Gov. Phil Murphy to help drive New Jersey’s economy as we battle the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Equity is a leading factor in our vision for New Jersey’s clean energy transformation. PSE&G’s investments in energy efficiency, carbon-free electricity and fortifying New Jersey’s energy infrastructure against the effects of climate change, and our partnership with the New Jersey Department of Labor, will help us create thousands of jobs and new economic opportunities for diverse suppliers throughout the state.”
Charles Lowrey, chair and CEO of Prudential Financial: “The council’s work demonstrates the power of New Jersey’s business community to drive meaningful change. Through these commitments, we will set a course for a broad and equitable recovery, with substantive support for residents who need it most.”
Jose Lozano, CEO of Choose New Jersey: “I’m extremely excited about this collaboration between the governor and some of the state’s largest and most well-known corporate employers. I hope that our membership embraces this challenge and makes this worthy goal a reality.”
Barry Ostrowsky, CEO of RWJBarnabas Health: “Our mission to make our communities healthier requires us to be intentional about our purchasing, our hiring and how we upskill our workforce to promote economic stability, which we know leads to more equitable health and social outcomes in our most vulnerable communities.
“We are proud to be an anchor institution for so many communities in the state of New Jersey, and this initiative will only amplify our efforts and strengthen our ongoing commitment.”
Kristin Peck, CEO of Zoetis: “I am proud to join forces with CEOs from other New Jersey corporations in supporting our home state in its recovery from the pandemic. At Zoetis, we believe our business purpose is also a social purpose, and we have a responsibility to build a society and economy where everyone can feel included and benefit from greater equity of opportunity.
“By committing to the actions and investments announced today, we can bring hope to our communities and create meaningful and lasting change, especially for those who have felt underrepresented for too long.”
Tom Polen, CEO of BD: “We are proud to partner with Gov. Murphy and New Jersey’s leading corporations to build on our commitment to furthering inclusion and diversity at BD. We are energized by the opportunities ahead of us, from leveraging new tools to attract and retain diverse talent to ensuring that our suppliers represent the diverse fabric of our home state.
“As BD associates continue to develop and deploy advanced solutions to the health care challenges that the pandemic has created for every community — particularly the most vulnerable — we know the commitments we are making today will play a critical role in helping the state’s economy recover from COVID-19.”
Hans Vestberg, chair and CEO of Verizon: “I’m excited to see Verizon play an active role in New Jersey’s Restart and Recovery Commission. COVID-19 has taken an immense toll on New Jersey — its residents and businesses — and additional help is clearly needed.
“As our company works toward creating a better society, Verizon has already implemented some of the commission’s goals, and we look forward to creating a pathway in other areas that will help the state once again become a thriving place to live, work, learn and raise a family.”