In the US, a huge number of black people sit idle, because employers don't believe black workers are valuable to include in their workforce.
A nation that systemically underemploys large groups of people is a weaker nation. Period. It has fewer productive workers, and it must siphon off resources from productive groups to support the non-working groups.
Fixing this is not optional. If we don't do it first, another nation will.
The notion that there are a fixed number of jobs available, that certain groups must be discouraged from "taking well-paying jobs away from others" is 180° wrong. Modern thought leans away from a "pie with a fixed number of slices" model, towards a model that says the pie grows as more people enter the workforce. American predictions about China are that its economic power will grow as the masses increase their productivity, rather than that it will economically fail due to too many people competing for the same-sized pie.
When companies make hiring decisions based on superficial stereotypes — that women are less competent engineers, that people who walk with a limp are less mentally capable, that older workers are less adept, that people of color are less valuable — these decisions hurt our nation's economy.
Before you dive into economics papers, I'll clarify some of their terminology that can be hard to understand:
Mainstream economist views: