The past few weeks have seen a change in our collective consciousness like never before. We’re standing up, speaking out and more motivated than ever to incite change. Inequality has always existed, of course, but now it’s finally being broadcast in the news and on our social media feeds.
So now that we’re all poised for action, what’s next? It’s simply not enough to be against the status quo—we must actively work against it by taking steps toward dismantling racist beliefs and systems and reconsidering the media we consume, how we spend our time and most importantly, how we spend our money.
Just four Fortune 500 CEOs are Black, and none of them are women. This year, though there was a record number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500, there were still only 37. Three of the 37 are women of color, and none of them are Black.
Here are four things you can do now to ensure that Black businesses (specifically those run by Black women) are able to thrive.
1. Invest in Startups
Black women are the fastest-growing group of U.S. business owners in the past 20 years. Even as the US rate of entrepreneurship has declined in the past 30 years, entrepreneurial activity in the Black community has increased—the problem is access to capital. Black entrepreneurs start businesses, but don’t have access to the capital needed to market and nurture those businesses over time. Enter Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is when businesses, organizations or individuals raise funds through small contributions from many people. Online platforms make it simple to find companies looking for funding. Try these:
iFundWomen of Color
Olivia Owens launched iFundWomen of Color with the goal of closing the funding gap for women of color. Using their platform, you can find new business and guide them to launch through funding. The startups are sorted by industry, leadership, location. and more. Your contribution will often be rewarded with early-access or discounted products. Win-win.
Republic is another platform that makes it possible for the average person to become an angel investor. Individuals make investments for the chance to earn a return—in the form of equity in the company or a cash payout—if the company is acquired, goes public or sells all of its assets. The companies are sorted by sector and tagged by founder stats, so it’s easy to find a Black female-owned startup to invest in.
2. Invest in Publicly Traded Companies
While the current corporate situation is in desperate need of a change-up, there are some companies out there with women of color at the helm. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Public.com, a free app that makes investing in stocks and exchange-traded funds accessible to anyone. The zero-commission trading app lets you buy what are called “fractional shares,” so instead of shelling out the total amount required for one share of stock (which for companies like Amazon are currently trading at $2,500+ per share), Public makes it possible to own a slice of stock for $1, $5 or whatever you have. Public even curates themes where you can explore companies by interest area or values. The app even has two Themes for investing in diverse companies:
Women in Charge spotlights female-led S&P companies including Accenture, Best Buy, General Motors, Best Buy and Ulta, who are forging the path forward to a more diverse future on Wall Street and beyond.
Growing Diversity features companies that are setting the bar for diversity and inclusion. Though the bar isn’t high enough, the companies featured in this theme have minority representation in senior leadership, in the boardroom and within their overall employee mix.
3. Invest in Action
Historically speaking, publicly-traded companies are often the slowest to advance diversity, for myriad reasons. However, when you’re a shareholder, you have a voice in how the company runs. Shareholder advocacy is real, and it works. Shareholders with at least $2,000 worth of stock in a publicly-traded company for at least one year prior to the filing deadline can introduce a resolution to company management to be voted on at the next annual meeting. The call for change is coming from inside the house.
If you’re concerned that these resolutions will be met with resistance, consider that a Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19 percent higher revenues. Or the Harvard Business Review study showing that going from zero women in corporate leadership to a 30 percent female share is associated with a 15 percent increase in profitability. Or this 2016 survey revealing that 47 percent of millennials are actively looking for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. Considering that they will make up more than 75% of the workforce soon, it’s an issue worth considering seriously. Diversity in the workplace, especially in leadership, isn’t just a hot topic—it’s good business.
4. Invest in the Future
When Corporate America wakes up and realizes that its old ways are out, who will step up? You can invest in the future of Black women in business by supporting these programs:
Black Girls Code teaches computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in hopes of growing the number of women of color working in technology. Black Girls Code's ultimate goal is to train one million girls by 2040.
Built by Girls prepares female and non-binary students to step into careers powered by technology through one-on-one relationships with expert advisors, invitations to events designed to develop tactical skills and access to a network of the best in tech and beyond.
Pretty Brown Girl partners with schools, community organizations and corporations to provide leadership development programs and empowerment events to help girls of color around the globe to pursue their dreams and unlock their true potential.
Gyrl Wonder is a professional pipeline giving rise to ambitious young women of color between the ages of 17 and 22. Their mission is to empower through social impact, career exploration and objective alignment.
This content is designed for educational purposes and should not be read as direct investment advice. Must be a U.S. citizen 18+ to qualify for free stock offer. Subject to account approval. For more information, see Public.com/disclosures.