Goldman Sachs has recently announced that they will be contributing $10 billion in investment capital over the next ten years and a further $100 million in charitable contributions to help address the racial wealth gap that is continuing to disadvantage Black women in the United States.
According to Goldman Sachs’ report, Black women’s households have 90% less wealth than those of white men. Black women make 15% less than white women, a striking gulf that has widened since the 1980s when the gap was 5%. While many factors may have contributed to this alarming disparity– including access to education and career advancement opportunities– it’s also important to recognize the role of systemic racism on Black communities and the deleterious effects on Black women in particular. It is well documented that employment discrimination and policies like redlining, designed to keep black and brown citizens from building generational wealth, were intentionally perpetuated in programs like the New Deal, ostensibly meant to help middle-class Americans. Regrettably, these inequities are not inadvertent side effects, they are the intentional consequence of long-term policies. Even lesser-known than the policy critiques are the successful, financially independent communities that were destroyed. Given these significant obstacles, and the intersection of sexism and racism often faced by Black women, generational wealth has been difficult to build and maintain.
In light of the observed disparity, Goldman Sachs, one of the leading investment banks in the world, has committed to investing in Black women. A rising tide lifts all boats and this initiative is no exception; Goldman’s investment is projected to create from 1.2-1.7 million jobs and increase the United States GDP by up to $450 billion. Black women are much less likely to own their own business or to receive a business loan from a bank to start their company, which further impedes their ability to create wealth.
Goldman Sachs’ project will be headed by several Black women leaders, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the prominent writer and actress Issa Rae, Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer, and many more. This is a bold and important example to other companies and organizations. Goldman Sachs is demonstrating the importance of dialogue and engagement as tools of advocacy. The plan includes a commitment to listen to Black women’s concerns and invites members of the community to give input on how Goldman Sachs should invest their money. Their investment plan includes providing financial assistance at every critical stage of Black women’s lives, including during the educational process, finding houses, and interacting with the healthcare system.
There is still an enormous amount of work to complete to address the effects of systemic racism on Black women adequately, but Goldman Sachs creating this initiative and acknowledging the community’s potential is an important step and an encouraging sign from a global industry leader.