What would it look like to make a substantial, sustainable and unprecedented investment in Black women? New research funded by Goldman Sachs indicates that “reducing the earnings gap for Black women has the potential to create 1.2-1.7 million U.S. jobs, and increase the annual U.S. GDP by $300-450 billion in current dollars,” according to a press release provided to The Root.
That’s right—the research, aptly titled Black Womenomics, proves what we’ve long known: when you uplift Black women, everyone wins. As a result, over the next decade, the multinational investment bank and financial services company has partnered with some of the country’s leading Black women-led organizations on a new initiative that commits $10 Billion to Black women, with a goal “to address the disproportionate gender and racial biases that Black women have faced for generations.”
Per Goldman Sachs:
In partnership with Black women-led organizations, financial institutions and other partners, Goldman Sachs will commit $10 billion in direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic capital over the next decade to address the dual disproportionate gender and racial biases that Black women have faced for generations, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The initiative, One Million Black Women, is named for and guided by the goal of impacting the lives of at least 1 million Black women by 2030...
One Million Black Women—the largest ever program of its kind to focus on Black women—aims to narrow the racial and gender wealth gap through direct capital investments in key areas that impact Black women over the course of their lives including investments in healthcare, education, housing, workforce development and access to capital.
The consulting partners include a number of highly recognizable names in the Black community: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., National Council of Negro Women, Power Rising, Black Women’s Roundtable, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Walker’s Legacy Foundation, Sistahs in Business Expo, and The Links, Inc.
Goldman Sachs explains that it is engaging with its partner organizations on listening sessions “to understand the barriers to opportunity Black women face and how targeted investments can address these barriers.” Additionally, Black women leaders across Goldman Sachs developed and will continue to lead the initiative, which is touted as “grounded in the voices and experiences of Black women.” They are doin so alongside alumna of the 10,000 Small Businesses program and an Advisory Council of Black leaders, including: Melissa L. Bradley; Rosalind G. Brewer; Bill Bynum; Melanie Campbell; Thelma Golden; Lisa P. Jackson; Valerie B. Jarrett; Lisa Mensah; Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice; Marc H. Morial; Dr. Dambisa Moyo; Issa Rae; former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Dr. Ruth J. Simmons and Darren Walker.
“This initiative is transformational,” said Melanie Campbell, Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable and President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, both of which have partnered with Goldman Sachs on the program. “What Goldman Sachs is doing has the potential to materially impact the lives of Black women, their families and communities across the country.”
“Our newly published research, Black Womenomics, suggests that no investment could have a bigger impact than unlocking the economic potential of Black women,” said David M. Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. “In the face of significant disparities, they’ve shown admirable resilience, especially as they’re starting businesses faster than anyone else in the U.S. Building on our 20-year history of investing in female entrepreneurs and underserved communities we are now proud to partner with Black female-led organizations and an outstanding advisory council to invest in opportunities to unlock their economic and leadership potential.”
Black women have already proven the most educated and entrepreneurial demographic in the United States, but as ample research demonstrates, that education has yet to translate to earnings (h/t Brookings Institute). However, given that Black women have also often been burdened with a disproportionate amount of labor in the United States (and elsewhere), we’d remiss to ignore the fact that Goldman Sachs itself has come under fire in recent days for its work culture, with junior analysts of all races and genders imploring the company to cap weekly hours at 80, rather than an “inhumane” expectation of upwards of 95 hours per week, reports CNN Business.
While this report is, of course, separate from Goldman’s philanthropic initiative benefitting Black women, it is nevertheless reflective of how corporate structures view and occasionally exploit (and expend) their “worker bees.” Black women are also a significant—but consistently less supported—part of that population, according to LeanIn and McKinsey & Co.’s 2020 Women in the Workplace report.
Whether Goldman & Sachs’ One Million Black Women will also address these more nuanced aspects of disparities remain to be seen, but as Asahi Pompey, Global Head of Corporate Engagement and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation notes:
“Let there be no doubt, investing in Black women has a massive ripple effect on our communities and economies. This initiative recognizes the power of Black women and puts their needs and voices at the center.”
Goldman Sachs promises transparency and measurement will be integral in its commitment and initiative, as will be “tracking investments made and sharing the results publicly through annual updates and periodic convenings.”
“Black women are at the center of this investment strategy because we know that capital has the power to affect change, and we know that Black women have the power to transform communities,” said Margaret Anadu, Global Head of Sustainability and Impact for Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “If we can make our economy work for Black women, we all benefit.”