Black History Month honors the achievements of African-American teachers, artists, athletes, researchers, musicians and writers.
But where is it Black business people?
Decades after the start of the modern civil rights movement, African Americans still remain rare numbers in America business and non-profit organizations.
Our under-representation in corporate boardroom is not a forward-looking policy. It is not just mistakes or short-sightedness that need to be corrected. It’s actually a missed opportunity for business America to do what they do best – make money by serving more people with the products and services people want.
The business case for including more blacks on the boards is as strong as the moral case. Here are six reasons why:
1. better input, better results
There are many wise, successful, future advisors, consultants, managers and business owners who are black out there.
When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, he immediately made an impact for the Dodgers organization and for our country with his game, and his leadership made him a Rookie of the Year, All-Star, World Champion and Hall of Famer. Most importantly, he became an agent of change for America.
Robinson’s arrival opened the door for society to change, and for our country to do business differently.
You can do the same with your company or industry. Turn fear into numbers and win.
2. Wider network than the current board members have
To tell an unpleasant truth, those in management positions and those in C-Suite probably know very few black people, perhaps just a few other managers or employees in their own workplaces. It is a classic definition of a turn and a miss.
Consider searching for new, valuable contacts and networks, in business and communities that have never been explored before.
To understand rapid social change immediately instead of after the fact
Without the guidance, experience, connections, and wisdom that come from a more diverse group of executives, you are likely to miss the mark of corporate policy related to hiring, training, staffing, purchasing, marketing, communications, and philanthropy.
These are simply the best practices for marketing and observing diversity and inclusion for your business. In this time of encouraging social and racial equality, control over diversity will only be intensified by activists, investors, employees and the media. It’s smart to be on or in front of the wave, not behind it.
4. To be in harmony with where America is going
Do you want to launch a successful new product? African Americans are at the top of trends and brands unlike any other demographic group. In addition, their use of social media to reinforce their feelings about products and services is for positive or negative. Electing board members who are in touch with their community means that companies have a greater chance of developing long-term relationships in these communities.
5. Utilizing black economic wealth
According to the University of Georgia’s Blessed Center for Economic Growth, African-American spending is $ 1.4 trillion, reaching $ 1.8 trillion within three years. Black spending growth surpassed white spending by $ 114% to 89% from 2000 to 2018.
Businesses do not succeed by leaving large amounts of money on the table. They may claim that they do not see color, but they all see green! My advice: do not go back to the bench after a called strike tree with the bat still on your shoulder.
Turn young consumers into customers for life
According to Nielsen, African American consumers, at an average age of 34 skewed, are younger than the average white American consumer, 38 years old. Once you have insight into how black people view brands, you can capture that consumer today four years earlier, and maintain that relationship for many years to come.
My purpose here is to just illustrate that placing African Americans on corporate boards is not just window dressing or virtue signaling, it’s just good business. It is not wise to keep an eye on this opportunity, especially when African Americans represent 13% of the population of America.
Do not be afraid to jump on the bandwagon of inclusion, evolve in this changing world and identify potential minority board members now. It is a deep, practically untapped pool of experienced, visionary, well-connected, brilliant, skilled people out there who can add real value to the table for your stakeholders. If you search, you will find some of the best in your search.
A generation from now, I know that Black History Month will continue to recognize a wide range of African-American achievements, including those that have taken positions at the highest levels of America’s economic engine will be added. If that is the case, the cake to share will be much bigger, we will be competitive domestically and internationally, and our country will begin to reach its full potential, which will be a great benefit for all of us.
Dave Winfield is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.