A change is amidst at the 2019 Essence Festival. This year marks the beginning of the inaugural Global Black Economic Forum and Friday was the official launch date. To mark the occasion, a panel of executives opened the forum with a discussion about change and the importance of Black wealth.

ESSENCE Ventures CEO, Richelieu Dennis, moderated the panel alongside Michelle EBanks, CEO of ESSENCE Communications, while Thasunda Brown Duckett, the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, Bernard Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente and Doug McMillian, CEO, Walmart joined the discussion.

“To even say the word ‘Black,’ to me, is a statement on being laser-focused on the problem we want to solve, and the opportunity we believe we can impact,” Duckett said, adding that her team focuses on education, careers and wealth. “We recognize that in order to make an impact, we have to address the ecosystem.” 

Recently, Chase and ESSENCE partnered to create Currency Conversations, which is aimed at guiding Black women toward achieving their own financial success and empowerment. 

Tyson highlighted the importance of creating ecosystems of health, while Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who talked through some of the ways in which the shopping giant is creating a “ladder of opportunity” for its employees.

“How do we collectively start to empower ourselves to act? How do we leverage our voices and how do we leverage our resources?” Tyson said. “That’s how big companies like ours come into play.”

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