African American Women: Issues and Solutions on the way to Sustainable Development - Oral Statement
On behalf of UN ECOSOC accredited NGO Athletes United For Peace and members of its’ network which includes, Solutions for Progress, Community Education for Sustainability Institute – CESI and The Business Channels - Information Technology Training and Consulting Firm
In this instance, African American Women, decedents of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on United States Soil.
A group whose unique issues are often missing from the International stage and are assumed to receive the same benefits as White American Women and Americans as a whole. Yet more than 25% of us live in poverty1.
As of February, the unemployment rate for Black Women was at 7.8%2 whereas the national rate held at 4.9%2.
In the Harvard Business Review article "Qualified Black women are being Held Back from Management "44% feel stalled in their careers (as compared to 30% of white women)”.
African American women own 15.4% of all women owned firms however the average receipts are $27,753 per year compared to $170,587 for White Women. 3.
We are survivors, all African Americans are, having subsisted through the Middle Passage, Slavery, Jim Crow and a modern culture that continues to dehumanize and deny much of our history and reality.
We have served as the economic engine of the African American community and a portion of the Labor force that has kept America running.
As a whole we have always worked, sustained family life and created whatever balance we could through faith and struggle.
However, the specific ways injustice affects us are often omitted in much of politics and policy and footnoted in the Women and Black movements of the Civil Rights Era; in which we actively participated and at times served as founders and leaders.
To put a dent in injustice we need African American Women Out of Poverty, At Work, Able to Advance and In Sustainable Businesses per the "Beijing, China - September 1995 Action for Equality, Development and Peace" 4, “The Global 2030 Roadmap” 5 and “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” 5 approved by UN Member States on the 25th of September 2015.
It is critical that we have access to education that includes us, workforce training that prepares us and the opportunity to get in the door at firms throughout all sectors of industry. We have to address the discrimination that keeps us from getting interviewed, getting the job and advancing in our careers.
In 2015 Fortune Magazine reported that "The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S."6 Yet as mentioned above Black women firms are not making nearly the same money as our White counterparts.
And in Tech, "Black women startup Founders raise $36,000 on average, while the average (mostly white male-led) failed startup raises $1.3 million."7
So, we are making a call for:
And, acknowledgement of the unique psychological and institutional discrimination that keeps African American Women from equality and economic opportunity. We need to eliminate the smokescreens that give the impression that we are doing better than we are and make sure that existing approaches are effective in solving the problems.
We need sustainable solutions that work.
Solutions for Progress, a Philadelphia-based registered Benefit Corporation, developed The Benefit Bank®, an online service that, through partners, has assisted American families and individuals in receiving nearly $2 Billion in income and work supports since 2006. To prevent families and individuals from slipping back into the crisis of poverty, Solutions for Progress' MyBudgetCoach® online service facilitates and enhances a trained coach’s ability to help working families and individuals develop healthy financial habits and make well-informed financial decisions.
Stephanie Lampkin an African American engineer and MBA designed Blendoor, an app to remove bias from the recruiting process. 9
Organizations should be incentivized to include Unconscious Bias Training in conjunction with expanding recruitment resources and collaborative work groups. Facebook, Coca Cola and the CIA have all embraced such training sessions. 10
We need support and additional Grants and Loans made available and marketed to African American Women owned Businesses’ accompanied with the training programs to help them succeed. Project Diane seeks to do that for Black and Latino women Tech startups. 7
We need to consistently put resources into evaluating and reworking solutions at the organizational level, nationally and internationally.
In 2014 President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. “It streamlines and updates the nation's job training programs.” “The bill got overwhelming bipartisan support” 11
We need all of the above and more, throughout the pipeline to move African American Women to full equality.
Notes: (will not be read)
3. WAKE-UP CALL report by U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce p. 13
7. Project Diane Digital Undivided p. 03