How are funds and foundations pursuing racial equity? What does the research evidence show about creating a diverse and inclusive workplace?
Wharton Social Impact Vice Dean Katherine Klein speaks with leaders from foundations, venture capital, and academia about their approaches to these questions and how business can be more equitable for all.
Roy Swan, Director of Mission Investments at the Ford Foundation
Swan discusses how the Foundation uses grant capital, mission-related investments, and program-related investments to advance social, economic, and racial justice. In addition to capital tools, Swan discusses the importance of “influence tools”: helping others understand the flaws in our system and charting a road map for change.
Gayle Jennings O’Byrne and Pialy Aditya, General Partners of the WOCstar Fund
Jennings O’Byrne and Aditya discuss investing in women of color and their diverse tech startups. Black women are the fastest-growing group of start-up founders. Yet, biases in investing cause major disparities in the amount of venture capital dollars they receive. WOCstar Fund’s goal is to not only change the trajectory for the companies they invest in, but also help other investors find these innovative and successful businesses.
Rachel Robasciotti, Founder and CEO of Adasina Social Capital
Robasciotti discusses how her firm is serving as a bridge between social justice movements and the financial markets. She also discusses the potential for real impact she sees in public markets and why systemic change requires organizing other investors.
David Thomas, President of Morehouse College, and Robin Ely, Professor at Harvard Business School
Thomas and Ely discuss the “business case” for diversity — the idea that the more racial and/or gender diversity you have in your organization, the better it will perform financially. This idea sounds good, but it’s simplistic and not backed by research evidence, Thomas and Ely explain. Even worse, it lets leaders off the hook in creating the conditions within their organizations for all employees to thrive. Getting serious about diversity requires committed leadership from the top of the organization and alignment with the organization’s values and practices.
Stefanie Thomas, Founding Member & Early Stage Investor at Impact America Fund
Thomas discusses the fund’s investments in businesses delivering strong financial returns and economic opportunities for communities of color. Impact America Fund works with entrepreneurs who have direct knowledge of the communities, systems, and problems that the fund aims to address. Thomas also discusses a broader mission to set a new standard for venture capital — one where racial equity investing becomes standard.
John Rogers, Chairman, Co-CEO, and CIO of Ariel Investments
Rogers discusses the racial wealth gap in the United States and strategies to overcome it. Systemic racism has prevented many African Americans from participating in key sectors of the economy in which wealth is created — financial services, professional services, and technology. Rogers argues that education and business diversity (not supplier diversity) are key approaches to solving long-lasting disparities.
- Read more: What Will It Take to Close the Wealth Gap?
Sonal Shah, President of The Asian American Foundation
Shah discusses the state of the AAPI community in the U.S. today. The Asian American Foundation is working to achieve belonging and prosperity — free from discrimination, slander, and violence — for all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Shah shares facts and statistics about the growing AAPI community, and discusses the Foundation’s focus areas: anti-hate, research, and education.
— Nisa Nejadi
Posted: July 29, 2021