Paving the Way for Workforce Economic Equity

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By Simone D. Ross
CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Executive Director of the Colorado Women’s Chamber Foundation

As we embrace the significance of Black History Month, it’s crucial to reflect on the strides we’ve made and the journey ahead toward achieving economic equity, especially within the workforce. 

This month offers a profound opportunity to celebrate the monumental contributions of Black Americans to our nation’s history, culture, and economy, while also acknowledging the systemic barriers that have historically impeded their full economic participation and success.

The pursuit of economic equity is not just a moral imperative but a critical economic strategy to enhance our nation’s competitiveness. 

  • Black entrepreneurs are significantly underfunded compared to their white counterparts, receiving less than 1% of venture capital funding. 
  • Black women receive .35% of venture capital funding. 

Closing this gap is critical to economic and innovation gains. 

  • According to McKinsey, in a parity scenario, Black-owned businesses would generate an additional $1.6 trillion. 
  • Investing in Black-founded companies fosters innovation and job creation. These companies often drive technological advancements and develop unique solutions to address unmet needs in their communities. 
  • Investing in Black-founded companies contributes to economic development and job creation, often in regions that traditional investments may overlook.

Economic equity in the workforce requires intentional actions and policies that address disparities in access to opportunities, wage gaps, and representation in leadership roles.

  • Women of color make up six percent of C-suite positions, with 1.4% of those roles being occupied by Black women. 
  • Black representation in S&P 500 companies achieved a record high in 2023 with eight Black CEO’s at the helm. 
  • Although progress is being made, companies have to intentionally create environments where Black professionals are supported and valued for their contributions.

This is an opportunity for companies to operationalize workforce equity in audacious and meaningful ways, inclusive of:

  • Promoting fair hiring practices
  • Deliberatively creating access to growth and advancement opportunities, and 
  • Investing in the successful implementation of inclusive operational strategies 

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Similarly, for ethnic and cultural diversity, their likelihood of outperformance jumps to 36%.

Black History Month reminds us of the importance of acknowledging our past, celebrating our progress, and working diligently toward a future where economic equity is a reality for everyone.

This month and beyond, let’s commit to actionable steps that support economic equity, including: 

  • Advocating for policies that promote equal access to capital for Black entrepreneurs
  • Addressing systemic barriers in the workforce
  • Creating more inclusive business environments through operational strategies 
  • Supporting employees to feel embraced and empowered to make meaningful contributions.

At the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, we are working tirelessly to create a more equitable and prosperous future for all. It’s time to activate workforce economic equity.

Together, we can create lasting change that not only uplifts the Black community but also strengthens our economy and society as a whole.

P.S. Join us on February 29th at our annual State of WOmen in Business Breakfast, where we will explore activating economic workforce equity with our CWCC Community… get tickets to be in the room!

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