Our big idea for Milwaukee is unity through employment opportunity equity. Now. Among all employers.
Milwaukee continues to face significant racial disparities that not only divide the community and stymie our region’s economic potential, but limit career opportunities for Black and brown people. What we know in our hearts and what our neighbors experience every day is borne out by the facts.
Data from "The State of Black Milwaukee in National Perspective: Racial Inequality in the Nation’s 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas" show that Milwaukee has one of the largest Black-white gaps in male employment in the country. Only two-thirds of Black males in the Milwaukee area between the ages of 25 and 54 were employed in 2016-‘18. That is the third lowest rate among large metropolitan areas in the U.S. The same study shows that a white high school dropout is more than twice as likely to be employed than a Black dropout, and white high school dropouts post a higher employment rate than Black high school graduates.
For change to occur, we must create employment opportunity equity through serious investments in targeted programs for underrepresented neighborhoods that are teeming with talent but have little to no employment opportunities. This means finding creative ways to connect people to jobs through education, job and life-skills training, and transportation. It also means taking a hard look at our organizations to make certain we are advancing equity within the workplace and working to achieve a more inclusive environment.
Milwaukee is fortunate to have many organizations doing meaningful work to employ people. Quad works closely with Employ Milwaukee and Running Rebels (which just merged with We Got This) to connect people to jobs, and provide the tools, training and transportation to set them up for success. The BrandLab, which we are helping to bring to Milwaukeethis year, pairs high school students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds with internship opportunities at advertising and marketing agencies, and within corporate creative teams.
Our big idea for Milwaukee is for employers to do even more with organizations like these to eliminate barriers to employment, and to make investments that attract even more businesses to the region to support the untapped talent searching for opportunities. The desire is there. The jobs are there. We just need to use our resources to connect the dots. This includes funding apprenticeship and internship programs in parts of Milwaukee that desperately need access to local jobs and the skills to fill them.
As an employer, we have the responsibility to do more than just employ people. We can change the trajectory of our entire community and tap the untapped potential of a more inclusive workforce.
As a company with a 50-year heritage of “creating a better way” in the Milwaukee community, Quad is committed to being a builder of change, and we invite other employers to join us on this journey.
This column is part of “25 big ideas for Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin’s future,” a feature included in the BizTimes Milwaukee 25th anniversary issue. To read other contributions, visit biztimes.com/bigideas