Robert Johnson, the first black billionaire in the U.S., said companies should adopt rules requiring that minorities be interviewed for every senior job to address continuing inequality.
Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, told reporters today that the voluntary measure would be similar to the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, which requires franchise owners to consider members of minority groups for senior posts.
“My take on affirmative action is that it is absolutely necessary because there’s a wide disparity between African Americans and white Americans,” said Johnson, 67. “Unemployment is double for African Americans, the wealth gap approaches $90,000. We’ve got to resolve that by providing more jobs or opportunities.”
The longtime media executive spoke to the press at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, an annual gathering of executives from media, technology, finance, government and industry. Johnson sold his BET Holdings LLC to Viacom Inc. (VIAB) in 2001 for $2.35 billion. He was the first black person to list a company on the New York Stock Exchange. (Bloomberg)