NEW ORLEANS –This year’s ESSENCE Festival of Culture featured the Global Black Economic Forum (GBEF), which brought together leaders from around the globe to discuss strategies for improving wealth and equality for Black people.
The GBEF HQ Stage at ESSENCE Fest started with a one-day summit on June 29. Then it continued with three full days of programming, including conversations on voting power, wealth building, and achieving equity for communities of color. Understanding where things stand is essential to having fruitful discussions that can lead to substantive change.
The GBEF panel “Grounded In Truth: The State Of Work, Wealth, And Health Equities And What’s Next” used recent data from the 2023 Hue-Harris Poll “State of Inequity” to assess the progress between Black and Brown communities regarding these essential parts of life.
“The data generally show that the inequities are still persistent, and they have not changed, really, in the workplace, health care, and wealth. So it’s a foundational truth that we need to recognize so that we have a place to grow and move on from,” said Libby Rodney, Chief Strategy Officer of The Harris Poll. Some of the key data shared and discussed by Rodney and Lauren Nwankpa, Co-Managing Director of Brand Citizens, about the foundational state of work, wealth, and health equities for Black people included the following:
The State Of Work
- “Despite promises of efforts to improve workplace environments and hiring during the summer of 2020, BIPOC employees report little progress since June 2020. Most notably, four in five report that their employer has not increased recruiting efforts toward racially diverse hiring and say their workplace has not made meaningful progress on building a more equitable environment for Employees of Color.”
- “Women of color face persistent barriers. Corporate culture has long struggled with the disparate work experiences of BIPOC women, especially when compared to those of White men.”
- “BIPOC women are nearly 2x as likely to report they have not had the same the same opportunities and chances to succeed as any other person within their company.”
The State of Health
- “BIPOC Americans are more likely to report receiving poor quality healthcare in the past year.”
- “60% percent of Black millennial women say ‘they have been dismissed or misdiagnosed by medical professionals.'”
- “BIPOC Americans are reorienting their priorities and sense of wellbeing.”
- Compared to three years ago, 83% of BIPOC Americans are now setting more boundaries about how they spend their time, and 69% are participating in rest culture.
In reference to the statistics, Rodney said: “I think it puts a mirror on who’s not doing what. So white Americans’ role in this deck and in this research, you can see that there is a lot of sense around allyship, but there’s little action, or there’s less action compared to Black and Hispanic people. So that is just a trend we see over time, and that’s something that we have to reflect back to white Americans to question, are you playing the role of an ally that you claim to be?”
Nwankpa said that the importance of having the numbers is seeing where the gaps are and the kind of gaps that exist so “we can continue to collectively work towards more equality and equity.”
She added that despite the inequities faced, she was amazed by how Black people continue to carve out spaces for themselves, create boundaries, lean into rest culture, and teach their children about issues like systemic racism and equity so that they can be equipped and adequately informed.
Nwankpa also shared a few key takeaways.
She said it’s essential to understand the insights we do have so people’s behaviors and thinking can be understood. Additionally, she underscored the importance of looking at the systemic issues at large and ways institutions can assist in breaking down barriers to access. Lastly, Nwankpa says her message is to “honor the things that we are doing in the midst of that kind of oppression, celebrating the people that are creating safe spaces for people to find wellness, rest, and belonging.”