This week, in the U.S. and Canada we began observing Black History Month. While this is a time to celebrate Black excellence and achievement, it’s also a time for brands to close their say-do gap in commitments made to the Black community and work towards systemic transformation. One of the most powerful ways to create lasting change is in supporting efforts that build generational wealth within Black communities.
According to William A. Darity Jr. (professor of economics and the Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at Duke), the racial wealth gap between Black and White Americans at the median — the middle household in each community — was $164,100. The median Black household was worth only $24,100; the median white household, $188,200.
When brands look for ways to address inequity, programs that look at how to address this wealth gap are a good place to start. This can mean innovating around supplier diversity programs, creating products or services, or supporting start-ups. Following are a few examples of how companies are actioning this specifically and working to build lasting prosperity.
- Target is on an ongoing mission to spend over $2 billion with Black-owned business by 2025. The end goal for the retail brand is to create a more equitable and inclusive experience for their Black consumers, while using their size and influence to establish broader economic opportunities for Black-owned businesses. They are celebrating Black History Month this year by providing a central hub and an icon for shoppers to easily support Black-owned products – which is built off of their “always on” shop for Black-owned or founded products.
- Starbucks has announced that it will be investing an additional $1.5 billion with diverse suppliers by 2030. This goal is built off of its 2021 efforts where the coffee brand spent almost $800 million and created 6,400 employment opportunities for diverse suppliers that led to a $1.2 billion financial impact across the country. Starbucks is also focusing on hiring and promoting internally to build more financial equity, by committing to at least 30% Black, Indigenous, and People of Color representation at all corporate levels, and building a leadership accelerator mentor program.
- Uber Eats and Visa* have teamed up and created their Grants for Growth program that will provide $1 million to small minority-owned businesses throughout the U.S. This initiative will provide grants of $10,000 to 100 entrepreneurs to alleviate pressing necessities that were heightened by the inequitable effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The program will be led by Local Initiatives Support Corporation to ensure support is specific and targeted within each community.
- Greenwood is a mobile banking app founded by Andrew Young (former Atlanta mayor) and Killer Mike (rapper-activist), that aims to help Black communities build generational wealth. The company name honors Tulsa’s Greenwood district, also known as Black Wall Street, where Black entrepreneurs thrived in the early 1900s. The district was destroyed in 1921 by White residents during the Tulsa Race Massacre, but the Black community rebuilt and, by 1942, there were 242 Black-owned and operated businesses in the area.
In 2020 we saw companies of every shape and size make declarations in their support to address racial justice. Now companies, fueled by stakeholder demands, are going beyond the statement to do actual work within their business and industries. This is why we identified From Statements to Action Items as one of ten key trends from 2021. This is especially important when one considers 63 percent of Americans believe companies can no longer make a statement of support without also showing their actions to address social justice issues. One way to close your say-do gap is supporting Black entreprenuers –put your organizational resources to work for creators, entrepreneurs and makers. Offer-up strategy and consulting opportunities for entrepreneurs; give access to your executives and networks to create further opportunity and collaboration.
*Porter Novelli Client