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Has corporate America failed black America?

Blair Shiff

David Thomas, president of historically black college Morehouse College, says the New York Times got it right in its recent article headline: "Corporate America Has Failed Black America."

While talking to FOX Business' Liz Claman on Monday, Thomas pointed to statistics that show black Americans make less money than white Americans.

"It's through corporations that we distribute most of the income in this country based on people's jobs," Thomas mentioned during "The Claman Countdown." "The average wealth in a black household is 10 cents compared to every dollar in the average white household."

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Since America is a capitalist society, Thomas maintained the financial inequities are related to how opportunity is distributed in the country. And that problem goes all the way to the top, Thomas said.

"I spent more than 30 years studying the development advancement of executives of color in large corporations that we actually haven't made any numerical progress in the diversity at the top of America's corporations," Thomas explained. "I think today we have fewer black CEOs than we had a decade ago."

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Of the Fortune 500 companies, only four of the company CEOs are black, according to a recent Fortune article.

So what do companies need to do to improve diversity?

"Starting today, corporate America needs to invest in institutions that have already moved the needle on this challenge and ask the question, 'How do we scale them?'" Thomas suggested.

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Thomas believes it all boils down to the leadership, relationships and alignment within corporate leaders. He suggested corporate leaders add people of color into their personal networks since people tend to "learn from the people that we interact with."

Key to the improvement process is asking which practices and policies exist at the organization that might undermine the efforts to diversify, Thomas mentioned.

"We've got to be willing to challenge those and change them so that the rules of our organization align with our values and our aspirations," Thomas said. "And that has not been the case for corporate America."

Thomas remains optimistic, though, as more companies are coming to HBCs to recruit for their organizations and are asking how their institutions could be better allies.

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