2021 Black Economic Forum Recap

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If you couldn’t join us for the 4th Annual Black Economic Forum last Thursday, you missed a truly dynamic afternoon — packed with great insight into the economic state of the Black community today.

With over 400 participants who joined us live, the Black Economic Forum kicked off with a warm welcome from Earl Exum, President of International Aero Engines at Raytheon Technologies Corporation, who introduced the Forum’s moderator, Gregory Jones, member the Beta Iota Boulé chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Inc.

To set the stage for the powerful conversations that followed, Associate Partners at McKinsey & Company, J.P. Julien and DuWain Pinder, introduced their research entitled, “The Economic State of Black America: What is and what could be.” Julien and Pinder gave an in-depth, data-driven presentation that outlined the economic disparities the Black community faces in America which included being underpaid, underrepresented, and underbanked in today’s economy. In their presentation they underscored how business owners can grow and expand their businesses if given greater access to capital as well as the financial growth families could see without fiscal constraint.

This led to Dr. Claudy “Jules” Jules’ introduction of the Forum’s keynote speaker, Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director, and Senior Advisor at Morgan Stanley. In her remarks, Carla gave several pearls of wisdom on establishing, knowing, and growing your wealth. With her real-world examples and honest perspective, Carla also spoke to the importance for the Black community to think equitably as we grow our families, advance in our careers, and chart our own economic destiny.

Following Jules and Carla’s insightful discussion, Greg Jones introduced the group of experts who spoke on the first panel entitled, “Future of the Black Business Owner,” moderated by Monne Williams, Partner at McKinsey & Company. The esteemed panelists who participated in the conversation included, Arlene Isaacs-Lowe, Special Advisor at Moody’s Corporation; Charles Corpening, Senior Managing Director at Ariel Alternatives; and Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly. One of the key themes of this conversation was the importance of partnership to scale up greater opportunities for Black business owners. These thought leaders underscored the need to create platforms that drive dynamic growth through collaboration.

The second panel entitled, “Future of the Black Saver and Investor,” was moderated by DuWain Pinder who was joined by Robert James II, Chairman of the National Bankers Association; George Nichols III, President & CEO, American College of Financial Services; Corie Pauling, SVP, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer, and Head of CSR at TIAA; Salene Hitchcock-Gear, President of Prudential Life Insurance; and Tanya Van Court, CEO & Founder of Goalsetter. This discussion was all about what individuals and financial institutions can do to put themselves on better financial footing to narrow the racial wealth gap as well as develop realistic benchmarks for wealth creation within the Black community. These executives helped us reframe our thinking around wealth using authentic strategies for capacity building through an inclusive lens.

Prudential’s Salene Hitchcock-Gear followed the panel discussion by sharing a commitment to action that helped gather the insight we gained throughout the Forum and put it into perspective, reminding us of our collective power to drive business value.

Michael Hyter, President and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council, delivered closing remarks stating in part, “Realizing economic equity in the Black community at scale will take our collective, renewed commitment to achieving it. These conversations help us reimagine the future of the Black dollar and help us determine what it will take to build a sustainable pathway to true Black economic mobility.”

To learn more about the economic state of Black America, educate yourselves and others by diving into McKinsey’s research here.

We’d like to thank Prudential, TIAA, the National Association of Securities Professionals, the Beta Iota Boulé chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Inc., and McKinsey & Company for helping us host and sponsor this critical convening!

Mark your calendars for August 17-18, 2022 and join us next year for the 5th Annual Black Economic Forum!

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