August is National Black Business Month, which is a time to support, recognize and celebrate Black-owned businesses across the country. There are currently over 124,000 Black-owned businesses in the U.S., the largest percentage of any minority group, and after a year of shutdowns and the national spotlight on social injustice, Black businesses across the nation need support and recognition this year more than ever before.
Black businesses have been a trending topic over the last year. During the summer of 2020, the search term “Black owned” reached a value of 100 on Google, which is the peak popularity for a term. While there has been a significant increase in internet searches, the successes of Black businesses have declined. Studies have shown throughout the pandemic, 58% of Black business owners said their businesses’ financial health has been “at risk” or “distressed”, as the shutdowns had dramatic implications, including increased unemployment and plummeting profitability.
A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41% of Black-owned businesses have been shuttered by COVID-19, compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the impact of the virus only intensified ongoing racial disparities that existed pre-pandemic. These social and economic injustices are deeply rooted and range from health status, access to health care, wealth, employment, wages, housing, income and poverty. A prime example of the discrimination facing Black-owned businesses is also apparent in the breakdown of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), where of the 14% of businesses that chose to identify race in their loan application, Black-owned businesses received 1.9% of loans, while white-owned businesses received 83%.
The lack of financial support has had a snowball effect, exacerbating the wealth gap and forcing layoffs for businesses Black-owned and beyond. In 2020, the unemployment rate of African Americans in the United States stood at 11.4%, compared to the national average of 8.1%. Additionally, Black employees lost their jobs at an alarming rate, as the Economy Policy Institute reported more than one in six Black employees lost their jobs between February and April, and as of April, less than half of the adult Black population was employed.
For the month of August and beyond, there are numerous ways to support Black businesses, promote inclusion and equality, celebrate diversity and become an ally for Black-owned businesses. While scanning the ongoing lists of Black businesses to support is a start, Black business owners have shared the biggest form of support comes in seeing Black-owned businesses and their owners as equals and experts. This begins with understanding the obstacles and barriers Black-businesses face in comparison to other businesses in order to be better advocates for change and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Work Shield is showing their support for Black-owned businesses and encouraging business owners to increase cultural diversity in the workplace this month and all year long, helping to build a strong workplace culture that business owners can be proud of. By building trust and fostering confidence between an organization and its employees, Work Shield is a dedicated ally for Black-owned businesses and emphasizes the importance of diversity throughout the hiring process.
For more information on ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, visit the Work Shield website.
About Jennifer PopeJennifer is the Co-Founder of Work Shield, the only start-to-finish workplace harassment and discrimination reporting, investigation and resolution solution that protects employees, employers and cultures at the same time. Jennifer’s background as an attorney fueled her desire to help others. She leverages her experiences from Hewitt Associates, Thompson & Knight, and SMU’s Dedman School of Law to help employers shift the paradigm related to workplace harassment to ensure that everyone has a voice. Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn.