On the one hand, Black-owned businesses have increased in number by 28% since before the pandemic, bolstered by an increase in DEI initiatives and programming directed toward Black entrepreneurs during the civil rights protests of 2020.
On the other hand, nearly half of Black professionals still feel disrespected, held back and/or unsatisfied at work.
And, even with the number of Black businesses is growing, professionals of color (which includes Black, Latinx and Asian participants) are significantly less likely to aspire to start a business than white professionals, with Asian professionals being least likely — 23% — to want to start a business.
These were the findings of a recent study of 1,000 employed professionals, weighted according to the current demographics of the US. The scope of the survey — conducted by business resources site Inc and Go via Prolific and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk — is small, but we can consider it a snapshot of sentiments that Technical.ly has heard before from professionals of color in our past reporting.
Supporting entrepreneurs of color
One of several things that can help with the issues surrounding funding of Black-owned businesses is community development financial institutions, aka CDFIs — and education about them in marginalized communities.
“Limited access to funding can be attributed to many things, from a lack of education on the part of the entrepreneur to visibility issues that might prevent them from gaining funding from larger groups,” Ricardo Rodriguez, a creative strategist for advertising services org Fractl on behalf of Inc and Go, told Technical.ly. “Education around CDFIs would likely improve access issues, but the responsibility shouldn’t lie solely on these entrepreneurs.”
Some other regionally focused efforts to tackle these issues:
- The Minority Business Pandemic Recovery Academy created a course to help founders of color with pandemic recovery
- Allegheny Conference is calling for Pittsburgh orgs across sectors to adopt ‘inclusive growth principles’
- After a year of building its ‘equitech’ vision, UpSurge Baltimore launches an ecosystem guide and plots growth
- 15+ business development resources for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in Philly
- How Delaware’s Black Chamber of Commerce helped small businesses during the pandemic
Race at work
Other findings include an underrepresentation issue for professionals of color in the fintech industry, a serious lack of work-life balance for Black and Asian women, opportunity inequality when it comes to promotions, and that Black women face the most roadblocks when trying to fund a business.
Some of the snapshot survey’s results showed majorities of professionals of color perceived that race impacted their jobs. Sixty percent of Asian men and 63% of Black men polled perceive that their race negatively impacts their promotion opportunities, and 62% of Latinx women polled felt their ethnicity negatively impacted the level of respect they receive in the workplace.
What can a DEI-invested employer do?
“Considering the trends we saw in our survey results, it seems there are two main opportunities for employers: communication and access,” Rodriguez said. “Employees of color noted issues with being disrespected, efficient communication, and feeling heard. Employers can provide education to their teams on cross-cultural communication, but they should also foster safe spaces for employees of color to voice concerns.”
Comfort when speaking with management and the opportunity to present ideas in group scenarios could potentially increase the visibility of professionals of color and alleviate some of the issues regarding access to promotions and raises, he said.
And, he added, that comfort is usually increased when leadership is diverse.
“Representation should happen at all levels of an organization,” Rodriguez said. “We found employees of color were more likely to have better relationships with managers of color, people who probably made them feel more comfortable and heard in certain environments.”
More advice on workplace inclusivity from the Technical.ly archives:
- 7 things orgs need to know about improving their DEI practices
- When looking to create more inclusive hiring practices, this DC nonprofit says to ditch the degree requirements
- Companies elevated racial equity pushes after 2020’s protests. Here’s how a Philly DEI expert says they can do more
- Companies still have work to do in supporting racial equity, despite all those pledges
- This new internship gets Black and brown college students into the wealth management industry
(As part of the ongoing Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, Technical.ly is convening experts and biz pros to share actually actionable DEI best practices and learn to avoid “tokenism without change.” Techsgiving cofounder Ayo Duyile will lead this interactive session on the ethics of marketing your company’s diversity. Learn more and register here.)
One jarring finding in the report was that amid the Great Resignation, white professionals (74%) were more likely than professionals of color (31%) to have started a better job within the past six months.
So, are DEI efforts failing professionals of color? Maybe not, Rodriguez said.
“I don’t think we can link the benefits white workers saw during the Great Resignation directly to the failure of DEI efforts,” he said. “It does seem like those efforts were a little behind, focusing on building a more diverse workforce rather than upskilling it, so white workers were already at an advantage in finding better jobs.”