By Pasha Carter
Closing the wealth gap between people of color and white America is a complex process, to say the least. There are some aspects that require personal change and others that require efforts from employers, as well as establishments within our communities. Regardless of the disadvantages we have (and there are many), the Black community must take action toward putting their own people in positions to succeed. Not sure where to start? The top ways Black Americans can decrease the wealth gap are below.
Seek And Provide Mentorship
One of the biggest challenges Black professionals face is getting on the radar of upper management. Excellent work is often overlooked, and innovative ideas can be misattributed. Having a mentor who advocates on your behalf and willingly shares essential knowledge with the intent of developing your business acumen can significantly accelerate your trajectory within a company. Providing mentorships and internship opportunities helps young Black men and women access information, training and resources that ultimately progress or conceptualize their professional desires.
Support DE&I Efforts
Make sure your employer has a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) department to assess and resolve inequalities throughout the workplace. This program, alongside compliance and HR, maintains inclusivity and evaluates concerns of equal opportunity. Minorities in senior management or executive positions will only increase if we challenge the existing recruitment processes and demand change for current strategies that are non-inclusive. In order to see significant changes in corporate America and in our economy, we need to have a seat at the table. We need to be in on the decision-making process and advocate for our communities.
Pursue Financial Education
In the Black community, we have often been conditioned to avoid discussing the fundamentals of money management and financial planning. Without knowing the programs, loopholes and rules that provide us with opportunities we may not otherwise have, our community continues to suffer. Public libraries, community centers or churches that provide free classes on taxes, healthcare programs, grants for home improvements and other financial assistance help the Black community learn and implement low- or no-cost programs, which leads to the basis of wealth among our people. In addition, real estate (fix and flip, wholesale, renting, etc.) and business acquisitions are two of the most effective contributors to the production of wealth. If given proper training and the same opportunities (with bank loans, interest rates and joint ventures), we can be just as profitable as our white counterparts. It first starts with a desire to learn, then having information available.
Our people have contributed to the advancement of this country with little to no recognition for hundreds of years. This purposeful lockdown used the innovation of minorities to establish the (financial) credibility and reputations of whites while dismantling the Black initiative to create businesses that served overlooked communities. The broken spirit of Black entrepreneurs resulted in some revolutionary trailblazers refraining from asserting their ideas or contributing to the legacy of Black entrepreneurship.
Fortunately, within the last decade or so, the floodgates have opened and tens of thousands of Black entrepreneurs began providing products, technology and services to their communities and beyond. Through idea cultivation and acquisition of private lending for small businesses, we are able to conquer entrepreneurial challenges, which leads to successful businesses and substantial economic growth. Despite the setbacks we’ve had, Black entrepreneurship has the ability to produce strong, multi-generational companies that add diversity to the country’s business landscape.
Know Your Worth
Researching the market pay scale of your field helps you successfully navigate salary negotiations. When meeting with your employer, be prepared to prove your value on paper, and make sure you understand the industry salary comps for your geographical location. If unsatisfied with the initial offer, counter — everything is negotiable. In short, when asking for a raise, or applying for a new position, preparation is key.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
The most effective and long-term solution of shrinking the wage gap comes down to supporting Black businesses. Regardless of your desire to have a business of your own, spending money in Black-owned establishments provides a better foundation for increased resources for the Black dollar. Establishing and supporting businesses within our communities is how we maintain and build wealth of our own. By keeping our money “in-house,” we invest in ourselves, support other Black professionals and establish independence from mainstream America.
Originally posted on Forbes