Financial Services and the Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity

Overview

Historically, financial institutions in the United States have not served people of color effectively or fairly. Even today, people of color have less access to credit, pay higher interest rates for loans, and are less likely to receive venture capital funding as compared to their White counterparts. Serving these markets effectively is not only a moral imperative, but also an economic opportunity to enhance a company’s bottom line.

A follow-up to The Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity, developed in partnership with FSG, this report highlights specific action steps leading companies in the financial sector have taken to create business value by using credit, savings, and investment products to address the unique challenges faced by communities of color. The companies featured in this report—Citi, Oportun, OneUnited Bank, Prudential Financial, and Impact America Fund—have found competitive advantage through their strategies to serve consumers who have historically been excluded.

Top Takeaways

  1. With a deeper understanding of the impacts of structural racism, financial services companies can avoid one-size-fits-all approaches to product and service development and better serve historically excluded populations of color and thus reach expanded markets.
  2. Leading financial services companies are reconceiving products and services to better meet the needs of people of color and are strengthening their external business environment by supporting public policies and norms that expand financial security.
  3. These companies also have strong internal catalysts—including a diverse employee base and a culture of inclusion—that enable them to implement strategies that advance racial equity and business growth.

Find all related material for The Corporate Racial Equity Advantage

Working with Artists to Deepen Impact

Overview

This is the first in a series of briefs that describe the changes, insights, and lessons when arts and cultural strategies are deployed in service of comprehensive community development and planning. During ArtPlace America's Community Development Investments initiative, six participating organizations developed creative placemaking projects that could help them more effectively achieve their missions. PolicyLink conducted a research and documentation project to measure the progress, immediate outcomes, and impacts of those projects. This brief examines how these organizations learned to work with artists and develop collaborative practices.

Explore more about our research and documentation project at communitydevelopment.art

The Payback Problem: How Taking Parents' Child Support Payments to Pay Back the Cost of Public Assistance Harms California Low-Income Children & Families

Overview

In California last year, the state intercepted over $300 million in child support payments that should have gone to low-income children and their families. Every year, hundreds of thousands of poor children across the state receive just a fraction of the child support payments made by their parents. That’s because, despite having the fifth largest economy in the world, California takes all but the first $50 of every child support payment made to children who receive public benefits and uses it to reimburse the government for the cost of providing those benefits. This report was a collaborative effort with organizations such as the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and Western Center on Law & Poverty to raise awareness of the unfair system that deprives poor children of critical resources, particularly children of color, and lift up recommendations for reform.

The Future of Banking: Overcoming Barriers to Financial Inclusion for Communities of Color

Overview

Systemic failures in the financial sector led to the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the Great Recession that followed. These crises disproportionately impacted low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities of color through job loss, foreclosures and an unprecedented loss of wealth. During the recession, Latinos’ household wealth declined by 66%, and African Americans’ by 53%, while White households lost 16%. Ten years after the financial crisis, communities of color have yet to fully recover, and the financial system has failed to solve the problems that devastated communities of color. To help the most impacted communities recover and rebuild, the banking and financial services industry must increase their focus on serving LMI households, businesses, and communities of color. This report explores key opportunities within the banking industry, policy, and regulation that can lead to financial inclusion for all.

Our Homes, Our Future: How Rent Control Can Build Stable, Healthy Communities

Overview

Amid the worst renter crisis in a generation, it is time for policymakers to respond to the call for rent control to protect renters from skyrocketing rents and displacement. Rent control has tremendous payoff: if the rent control policies being debated right now in six states and two cities become reality, 12.7 million renter households will be stabilized. If adopted by states nationwide, 42 million households could be stabilized.

Read the full report on how rent control can build stable, healthy communities.

This report was produced by a collaboration between PolicyLink, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Right To The City Alliance.

Sarah Treuhaft highlights key findings from the report, and speakers from Oregon and New York will discuss their local campaigns and the growing movement led by renters to push for stronger tenant protection laws. View webinar recording.

Health Care and the Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity

Overview

People of color in the United States experience poorer health and more premature, preventable mortality than their White counterparts. Although health care companies prioritize achieving health equity, their efforts often focus on disparities caused by poverty, education, and disability without explicitly addressing how structural racism significantly raises the risk of poor health for people of color. Corporate diversity and inclusion efforts, while helpful, are not sufficient to counter biases in clinical practice or access to health care. By better serving communities of color, health care companies can deliver better outcomes and strengthen their own economic performance.

A follow-up to The Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity, developed in partnership with FSG, this report focuses on actions taken by companies in the health care sector to create business value by addressing the unique challenges faced by communities of color. The companies featured in this report—ProMedica, Kaiser Permanente, Cigna, and UnitedHealth Group—have adopted several business strategies that improve health outcomes for people of color and create a competitive advantage through reduced costs, avoided readmissions, and greater member satisfaction.

Top Takeaways

  1. For health care organizations to achieve health equity, it is essential to have an explicit focus on racial equity.
  2. Leading health care providers and commercial insurance companies are redesigning the ways in which they provide core services to better meet the needs of people of color and they are making investments to improve community conditions that affect health.
  3. These companies also have strong internal catalysts that enable them to implement strategies—including a diverse employee base that feels included, strong leadership that understands why race matters, and an organizational structure that connects equity to business goals.

Find all related material for The Corporate Racial Equity Advantage

All-In Cities: Building an Equitable Cities Movement

Overview

In 2015, PolicyLink released a framework and policy agenda for inclusive cities. Since this time, the All-In Cities initiative has worked to build community power, forge innovative partnerships, and support government leaders and community coalitions in advancing racial economic inclusion and equitable growth in cities. This progress report describes our approach, the impact of our work thus far, and lays out a vision for the future.

Supporting Small Businesses to Do Well and Do Good in the 21st Century

Overview

A thriving, inclusive economy depends on the success and growth of small businesses. Nearly half of all workers are employed at a small business; and businesses owned by women and people of color have created 1.3 million new jobs between 2007 and 2012. This brief looks at small businesses and the barriers they face in providing good jobs obstacles, as well as key strategies being implemented by various actors in the business development ecosystem—technical assistance providers, small-business lenders and investors, economic development agencies, business associations, and workforce and labor partners—to help small businesses get on the road to good jobs.

Employment Equity: Putting Georgia on the Path to Inclusive Prosperity

Overview

This brief describes why employment equity is critical to Georgia’s economic future and lays out a policy roadmap to achieve employment equity. It is based on data analysis and modeling of a “full-employment economy” (defined as when everyone who wants a job can find one), which was conducted by the Program for Environmental and RegionalEquity (PERE) at the University of Southern California as well as policy research and focus groups conducted by PolicyLink and the Partnership for Southern Equity.  See the detailed methodology and fact sheet "Employment Equity: The Path to a More Competitive Georgia."

Inclusive Procurement And Contracting: Building a Field of Policy and Practice

Overview

This study, co-authored by Emerald Cities and PolicyLink, and generously supported by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, surveys the current landscape on inclusive procurement and contracting policies and practices in the infrastructure and construction industries. The goal was to specifically determine how to best position minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses (MWDBEs) to effectively compete for large-scale construction projects in these industries. A successful inclusive procurement program of action is key not only to providing jobs, but also to closing the wealth gap needed to secure the well-being and future of children, families, and the regions in which they live.

This report details the rationale for inclusive practices in this industry and includes historical and current equitable development policies and trends. It also identifies challenges and best practices and sets forth recommendations for strengthening the field of practice. The report provides insight into inclusive procurement and contracting policies within the energy, water, transportation, health, education, and public housing sectors. It also considers the field of practice in different geographic regions of the United States. Download executive summary here.

Equity Summit 2018 Program

Overview

The Summit is a call to activists, organizers, and leaders to step into our power, activate our imaginations, and set the national agenda. That agenda will build on what’s been learned about advancing equity and justice and will push us to achieve the scale required for all to reach our full potential. 

See program for full agenda. (Last revised 03-21-18)
See program overview in Spanish here.

For Summit Attendees: Please download the Equity Summit App for latest program. There have key changes to a few sessions, including room changes, since 03-21-18.

Healthy Communities of Opportunity: An Equity Blueprint to Address America's Housing Challenges

Overview

From San Francisco, California to Flint, Michigan, the nation is facing an escalating housing crisis. Skyrocketing rents, inadequate infrastructure and stagnant wages are some of the barriers that are preventing millions of low-income Americans and communities of color from reaching their full potential. Healthy Communities of Opportunity: An Equity Blueprint to Address America’s Housing Challenges weaves together insights from the fields of healthcare, housing and economic security to outline a case for progressive, equity-focused policy.

Placing the contemporary housing crisis within the context of American Urban History, this report highlights key movements offering countermeasures to concentrated poverty, racial segregation, economic mobility and substandard housing, including:

  • Tying preventive health spending to housing interventions
  • Addressing housing and health equity in land use and resilience/sustainability planning in the built environment
  • Leveraging the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address health and equity outcomes
  • Building anti-displacement campaigns across local coalitions and national networks to gain increased tenant protections
  • Applying new investment tools to increase housing affordability

Healthy Communities of Opportunity suggests 10 equity housing policy priorities that together provide a strong platform to improve racial equity, health, climate, and economic opportunity outcomes.

Advancing Employment Equity in Alabama

Overview

850,000 of Alabama's working-age adults are economically insecure and struggling to find good jobs: jobs that pay enough to support a family, offer safe working conditions, and provide meaningful opportunities to move up the economic ladder. Advancing Employment Equity in Alabama describes why employment equity — when everyone who wants a job can find one — is critical to Alabama's economic future and offers a policy roadmap to achieve employment equity. It is based on data analysis and modeling of a "full-employment economy" as well as policy research and focus groups conducted by PolicyLink and the Alabama Asset Building Coalition. With full employment for all, Alabama's economy would be $3.9 billion stronger every year. However, to realize these gains, state leaders must be willing to eliminate barriers to employment through efforts such as expanding public transportation options, banning the box on criminal background checks, and supporting the growth of minority- and women-owned business enterprises. This is the second of five briefs about employment equity in southern states co-produced by PolicyLink, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at the University of Southern California, and local partners with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Download the report, detailed methodology, and fact sheet "Employment Equity: The Path to a More Competitive Alabama."

Boosting Economic Growth in Mississippi through Employment Equity

Overview

While economic insecurity is a widespread challenge for an increasing number of Mississippians, women and people of color are disproportionately represented among the economically insecure. This brief highlights how employment equity is essential to the state's future. If full employment was achieved across all gender and racial groups, Mississippi's economy could be $2.5 billion stronger each year. Investing in women and in critical support systems for Mississippi’s workforce will disrupt Mississippi’s current pattern of economic exclusion and place the state on a course to greater prosperity for all. The report is the third of five briefs about employment equity in southern states based on data analysis and modeling of a “full-employment economy” (defined as when everyone who wants a job can find one), which was conducted by the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at the University of Southern California as well as policy research and focus groups conducted by PolicyLink and the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Download the report, detailed methodology, and fact sheet.

The Promise Neighborhoods Movement: Creating Communities of Opportunity from Cradle to Career

Equity: The Soul of Collective Impact

Overview

This paper expands the collective impact model by infusing it with equity, an explicit focus on race, and a place-based approach to achieving large-scale change through systems and policy reforms.

The Housing Prescription: A Curriculum for Improving Community Health via Housing Planning & Policy

Overview

This curriculum, conceived as a PowerPoint presentation, is based in the recognition of the central importance of housing and neighborhood opportunity to the social determinants of health. Homes, neighborhoods, air and water quality have significant implications for population health, but have not been widely considered in housing planning, and rarely through a racial equity lens. The curriculum addresses social determinant factors such as exposure to toxics/crime/physical stressors; access to secure, adequate, affordable housing; socioeconomic status; access to fresh and healthy foods; educational attainment; and racial and social isolation. A focus on social determinants looks for solutions beyond medical care and the treatment of diseases and chronic conditions, and toward prevention strategies and the equitable development of communities. The narrative document, a facilitator’s guide, supports the PowerPoint presentation and can be used to guide stakeholders through the steps of an effective equitable healthy housing planning process. The facilitator’s guide is annotated with the corresponding slide numbers of the PowerPoint.

Claiming Our Power, Shaping Our Destiny

Overview

A Message from Angela Glover Blackwell (translated into Spanish here)
Distributed at Equity Summit 2018, April 11-13, 2018, Chicago

An excerpt:

The forces molding the future—demographic shifts, staggering inequality, economic and technological change, climate threats— are intensifying. The need is growing for action that fosters opportunity, shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and resilience. As the challenges mount and the political opposition stiffens, the ambitions of the equity movement must soar, not shrink. Now is the time to articulate bold intentions, set far reaching goals, formulate transformational ideas, and build alliances—including unlikely ones—to push those ideas forward. It is the moment to reclaim control of our agenda and our future.

100 Million and Counting: A Portrait of Economic Insecurity in the United States

Overview

This analysis sheds new light on the 106 million Americans — nearly a third of the nation — who are living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, for whom even a short-term illness, loss of income, or emergency expense can be insurmountable. Produced with the support of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, in partnership with Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California, the report shows that even with low unemployment, economic insecurity is growing rapidly.  Since 2000, the population living at or below 200 percent of poverty has grown by 25 million — more than twice as fast as the nation’s population growth overall. In addition to nuanced data on who is economically insecure in America, the report offers bold policies that organizers, policymakers, business leaders, and others can pursue to foster a more inclusive and equitable economy. Download the report and fact sheet.

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Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus: Results, Priorities, Partners

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