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Episode 41: Maurice Jones

A Bold Dream to Impact Social Equality

Janice Ellig, CEO and founder of Ellig Group, sits down with real leaders in this series of game-changing conversations, bespoke to fellow champions of change. Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and commitment to gender parity, equity, inclusion, and diversity.

We are honored to present this month’s episode of Leadership Reimagined, “A Bold Dream to Impact Social Equality” with Maurice Jones, Chief Executive Officer of OneTen.

Join us in this month’s game-changing conversation with Maurice Jones, an innovative business leader and prominent social advocate whose depth of leadership experience is equally matched by a passion for impacting positive social change and creating a more equitable society.
Episode 41: Maurice Jones
The OneTen mission is to upskill, hire, and promote one million black individuals who do not have a four-year degree into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years. OneTen, with their “skills-first” approach, focuses on competencies, aimed to close the opportunity gap and ignite potential for years to come. Highly personal to Maurice, as he was raised by his grandparents, he shares how they faced instrumental societal barriers that greatly impacted his life, “they were the most transformative presence in my life, and without a doubt, were brilliant. But their brilliance was not enjoyed by all who could have benefited from it because of the barriers that were put in front of them, overwhelmingly because of their race.”

Prior to joining OneTen, Maurice held a number of high-ranking positions in non-profit and public service. Having spent his life’s work making an impact on society and giving back, it is our privilege to share his story on this episode of Leadership Reimagined “A Bold Dream to Impact Social Equality” with Maurice Jones!

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Maurice Jones is CEO of OneTen, a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire, and promote 1 million Black individuals who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement over the next ten years

Prior to heading the OneTen initiative, Maurice was the president of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, one of the country’s largest organizations supporting projects to revitalize communities and catalyze economic opportunity for residents.Before that, he served as Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He was Deputy Secretary for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, president of Pilot Media, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services, and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Virginia, as well as other high ranking positions in public service.

Maurice Jones on the Origins of the OneTen Initiative

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession, as well as the murders of Briana Taylor, Ahmaud Aubery, and George Floyd, A group of CEOs in corporate America came to the conclusion that we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to become a more perfect union. They concluded that the private sector had a big role to play in that. It began with Kenneth Frazier, at the time CEO of Merck, and Ken Chanault, formerly CEO of American Express, and now at General Catalyst. They brought in teammates: Ginni Rometty, who at the time was CEO of IBM, Kevin Sharer, who had been the CEO of Amgen, and Charles Phillips, who had been at Oracle and Infor. Having brought together that team, they said, “what can we do? How do we, in corporate America, lead an initiative that helps us become a more perfect union?”

They realized that what corporate America does better than anyone is create quality jobs. And you can’t get rid of the disparities that are tearing us apart unless quality jobs are at the heart of it.

Maurice Jones on Barriers to Living-Wage Jobs for Black Americans

The founders of OneTen looked at the data and discovered that if you looked at jobs that paid $60,000 and more in our country, 79% of them on paper required a four-year degree to even be considered for the job. Indeed, if you look at jobs that paid $40,000 or more – and by the way, this was before COVID, so it’s actually been exacerbated since then – 71% of them required a four-year degree. And yet, when you look at Black talent in the workforce ages 25 and above, 76% of us do not yet have a four-year degree. So looking at that data, they concluded, rightly, that we have a systemic barrier in the form of a credential – a four-year college degree – that is standing in the way of people earning their way into the middle class.

And thus they came up with the bold vision to hire and promote a million Black talent who don’t yet have four-year degrees into family-sustaining jobs and careers over the next ten years.

Maurice Jones on the OneTen Initiative’s Year-One Results

Janice Ellig:

In the first year, I understand there were 26,000 new hires and 4000 promotions for Black Americans, so congratulations! But how are you doing this? If people don’t have the four-year degree, and they come into a company, is there a mentoring program or how are you having the success of getting those hires in and those promotions to happen?

We’re really delighted with the results of year one. In fact, those results were achieved in only nine months, from March to December of 2021. That success starts with the companies, who are doing two or three things that are really moving this journey along. First and foremost, they are putting on the table the current jobs they have that both pay at least living wages and don’t require a four-year degree. The other thing about those jobs is they’re not at risk of being automated out of existence in six months. And they also require less than five years experience for one to be competitive. Companies already have jobs that have those attributes and they are putting those jobs at the service of this journey.

What’s even more powerful, though, and frankly, even harder, is that companies are re-credentialing existing jobs. What I mean by that is they’re removing four-year degree requirements from jobs that are family-sustaining, where the degree is not relevant to the skills that you need in order to do the job. And they are adjusting their hiring mindsets and changing job descriptions to focus on skills as opposed to credentials. And that really is the big work to be done for the entirety of the OneTen journey: re-credentialing, removing that barrier, and moving to a skills-first approach to hiring and a skills-first approach to promotion.

The third piece is that these companies have agreed to become part of a community of practice. Basically, we curate a forum for the CEOs and the CHROs to come together at least three times a year to share best practices and to understand better what areas we need to work on to really achieve this mission. And the CEOs are committed to that community of practice.

Maurice Jones on how the OneTen Initiative Finds Candidates for Skills-first Employment Opportunities

I want to stress that a big part of this project is building an ecosystem. The first piece of the ecosystem is the companies doing the hiring, and the second piece is the talent development organizations that are in the business of sourcing talent and equipping them to be successful in the jobs. We have 65 corporate partners right now, and counting. We actually have over 100 educational enterprises, boot camps, military transition programs, two-year HBCU training programs, and community colleges. Those are the enterprises that we are collaborating with to both recruit the talent and prepare the talent for the in-demand jobs.

The third component of the ecosystem is obviously the talent. As I mentioned, we recruit them through the talent developers, but we also are forging other partnerships and going directly to the talent through marketing and education outreach.

And then the fourth piece of this ecosystem is what we call talent support organizations. Organizations that can provide coaches and mentors and childcare and transportation assistance. The things that we all need to thrive and excel at whatever it is we’re trying to do. The work of the OneTen Coalition is to knit together that ecosystem and then scale it.

Maurice Jones on Talent Development and Scaling Up the OneTen Coalition

We have two vehicles that we’re utilizing to grow. First, we have a technology marketplace where the companies can post jobs, the talent developers can post courses and boot camps. Talent can come on and see both and be matched with both. And talent support organizations can publish their offerings as well. So that virtual platform works all across the country.

Our second way to scale up OneTen is through on-the-ground presence in about 25 markets around the country where there’s an overlap of talent and job demand. There, we are knitting together the players in this ecosystem the old fashioned way, creating relationships and matches and the like. And to your point, or to your last question, the companies involved in this coalition are across industries. We’ve got finance, we’ve got higher ed, we’ve got retail, we’ve got technology, we’ve got manufacturing. So it’s a diverse swath of industries, and intentionally so, because we believe for this movement to have the impact that we’re looking for, that it has to be diverse in its membership in the industries. And the other piece that I was going to mention is that the types of jobs here are just also multifaceted. They’re sales jobs at work here, they’re retail jobs, they’re health care jobs, they’re manufacturing jobs. So there is, no question about it, a pluralistic journey with a lot of players and a lot of diversity. But it is the only way that you do something like this at this kind of scale. It’s about curating and scaling an ecosystem.

Maurice Jones on the Pitfalls of Re-credentialing Jobs

One of our teammates who works in HR at one of our companies said to me, “Look: when I hire somebody who has a four-year degree and they don’t work out, people will say, ‘look, not everybody works out. We know that. We know we’re taking a chance.’ But when I hire someone who doesn’t have a four-year degree and they don’t work out, then people respond, ‘what were you thinking? Of course they weren’t going to work out.’” It’s that kind of mentality that we’re trying to change here. We can re-credential as many jobs as there are stars in the sky. But unless and until people really believe in the merit of skills-first approaches, then we’re going to have people default to the reliance that they’ve had on the proxy of a credential to tell them something. Actually, when you effectively look at it, the credential really isn’t used in a lot of cases to tell you whether someone can do the job or not. It’s more often used just to weed people out. The biggest challenge I think we have across the board is a mindset shift

Maurice Jones on Closing the Racial Wealth Gap in America

I think one of the greatest risks to the American democratic experiment are the widening disparities that we have in our country. And one of the riskiest is the wealth disparity that largely breaks down along race and place. The OneTen Initiative is an effort that must succeed if we’re going to have a chance of closing that racial wealth gap. And when I saw that we had these corporations lining up behind it, I became confident that we can do it. I saw this as an opportunity. 76% of Black people in the workforce right now do not have a four-year degree, but that number is actually 66% of all workers in the workforce. So this systemic barrier is, yes, disproportionately impacting Black talent, but it’s actually impacting all talent cohorts. So we believe that when we fix this issue for Black talent, we’re actually going to have a more inclusive and productive and reliable and loyal workforce, period. It’s in the interests of the companies, it’s in the interests of families, and it’s in the interest of the country from the standpoint of remaining globally competitive in the international economy.

This is not a short term-fix. This is a movement. No question about it.

Maurice Jones on Tech Jobs With No Degree Requirement

The digital age is creating a lot of new opportunities for virtual work. It’s creating more kinds of jobs. It’s actually creating many technology jobs that definitely don’t need a four-year degree. You can go to a coding boot camp, for example, a good one, and in eight weeks’ time, be ready for a job that enables you to earn a living. So I think the digital age is putting an abundance of new opportunities on the table.

Maurice Jones’s Advice for Young People Trying to Enter the Workforce

First and foremost, get prepared. You definitely need to get through high school and look for organizations that can equip you with skills post high school, whether it’s community colleges or the boot camps, or military service.

Secondly, do everything in your power to find mentors. You want to benefit from the experience and the wisdom that others can share with you. So definitely search out and cultivate mentors and be a great mentee: show up, listen, and be curious.

The last thing I would tell you is raise your hand, take a risk, go for opportunities. If you’re already within a company, raise your hand for promotions. If you’re not, you need to boldly and aggressively pursue opportunities that interest you.

Opportunities are abundant now, and this is part of a movement. There are 10 million plus open jobs. I can’t think of a more promising time for candidates than now. And that’s why my advice is to be bold.

Maurice Jones is CEO of OneTen, an initiative to connect Black Americans to family-sustaining jobs without four-year degree requirements.

Janice Ellig is CEO of Ellig Group, a New York City executive search firm leading the industry in diversity, equity, and inclusion-driven executive search and consulting.

For more insights from top executives and leadership experts, subscribe to the monthly Leadership Reimagined podcast, available on all major podcast platforms.

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Cindie Jamison was elected Chair of the Darden Restaurants Board (NYSE: DRI) in September 2023, having served as a Director since October 2014 as part of a complete Board replacement slate through Starboard Value’s proxy fight. Since 2013, she has also served on the Office Depot Board (NASDAQ: ODP) where she Chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Compensation Committee. In May 2015, she joined the Big Lots, Inc (NYSE: BIG) Board, and became Chair in May 2022. In May 2023 Cindie stepped down from the Tractor Supply Company Board (NASDAQ:TSCO), a position she has held since 2002, where she was Chairman of the Board, after serving as Lead Director, and Chair of the Audit, Compensation & Corporate Governance Committees. Cindie joined the Board of Save the Children in February 2024.

David Chun, Founder and CEO, Equilar, Inc., has led Equilar since its inception to become one of the most trusted names in the corporate governance community. David has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Players in Corporate Governance” by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Disruptor Award by 2020 Women on Boards and Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business. David speaks publicly on corporate governance and board diversity matters, including events hosted by The Conference Board, Deloitte, EY, HR Policy Association, KPMG, NACD, NASDAQ, NYSE, The Society for Corporate Governance and Stanford’s Directors’ College. Prior to founding Equilar, David was a Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, a global investment bank that has since merged with Credit Suisse. Before DLJ, David was a management consultant with Bain & Company and also Kenan Systems, a telecom software developer acquired by Lucent Technologies. David serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Club of California, PGA Reach, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). He is on Nasdaq’s Center for Board Excellence Advisory Board and Catalyst’s Women on Board Advisory Council. David is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Past Chair of the SF Bay Chapter, a founding member of the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) and a former board member of the Wharton Center for Entrepreneurship and the Asian Pacific Fund Community Foundation of San Francisco.

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Priscilla Sims Brown serves as President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, a full-service bank, lender and investment manager with a century-long commitment to advancing positive social change. Amalgamated Financial Corp., the holding company for the Bank, is the first publicly traded (NASDAQ: AMAL) financial institution to be a public benefit corporation. Priscilla guides Amalgamated Bank in championing social responsibility through values-based banking, customer-centric services, and mission focused lending, serving individuals and organizations, including climate groups, foundations, labor unions, advocacy groups, political campaigns, and other socially responsible businesses, who care that their deposits are put to work for good. Priscilla is also dedicated to addressing environmental and social justice issues at Amalgamated Bank. More than 60% of the Bank’s lending and select balance sheet investments are high-impact through affordable housing, nonprofits, and climate solutions. Named one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking in 2023 by American Banker, Priscilla has been featured in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, PBS, and CNBC Changemakers, among others.

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Myra Biblowit is the President Emeritus of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the nation’s highest-rated breast cancer research organization with a mission focused exclusively on funding the world’s most promising research. Myra took the helm as BCRF President in 2001 and, after 22 years, retired in April 2023. During Myra’s tenure, BCRF funding enabled breakthroughs in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship. Myra was widely recognized for leading one of the most impactful, financially efficient, and transparent nonprofits in the United States. Prior, Myra was Vice Dean for External Affairs at NYU Medical Center where she headed the Development, Alumni Relations and Public Relations departments. Previously she led the capital campaign as Senior Vice President of the American Museum of Natural History. Earlier, Myra served as Executive Vice President of the Central Park Conservancy. Myra is a member of the Board of Directors of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the Housewares Charity Foundation and the Historic House Trust of New York City. She is a member of the New York Women’s Forum, the Yellow for Pink National Council, Extraordinary Women on Boards and serves on the Advisory Board of Project Hope for Ovarian Cancer Research & Education.

Truett Tate is Chairman of a number of Boards, including Reference Point, TLC Lions, Thinkably and the recently retired Chairman of QBE, NA. Truett Tate is also Director of the DEVClever board. Truett has a long and esteemed global executive history including most recently as CEO of ANZ USA, Europe, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. Immediately prior, he was Group Executive (and Board member) at Lloyds Banking Group, responsible for Wholesale & International Banking (Including Global Wealth and International Retail) across the United Kingdom, the Americas and worldwide and prior spending 27 years at Citigroup where he held a variety of senior roles including corporate banking business across each of its regional geographies. Truett’s long board history includes Virgin Group, Ten Group, the BITC, BAB Inc along with many other charitable and academic organizations. A speaker, guest lecturer, philanthropist and professional coach/mentor, Truett has seemingly bottomless energy and passionate interest in a safer, more just, more humane and more sustainable world.

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

T: (212) 688-8671 ext. 226
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