Starbucks, Goldman Sachs, ACLU and Others Pledge to Tackle Racial Wealth Gap by Boosting Black Employment and Business Investments

Ishena Robinson
·2 min read


Some of the biggest companies in America say they will put their considerable might behind a mission of closing the massive wealth gap between Black people and white people in this country.

According to analysis by Brookings Institute, the median wealth held by Black households in the U.S. is not even 15 percent of the wealth held by white families—which was $188,200 compared to the typical Black family’s net worth of $24,000 in 2019.

Read more

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks and management consulting giant McKinsey & Company announced a new collaboration with the heads of four other entities—including advocacy nonprofit the ACLU, investment company Lord Abbett and the Wharton School of Business at UPenn—to address that massive disparity.

Calling themselves NinetyToZero in reference to the goal of bringing the nearly 90 percent racial wealth gap between Black and white Americans down to zero, the group of companies and organizations say they will be leading the charge to amp up support for Black talent as well as investments in Black-owned businesses.

It can’t come at a more urgent time, given the devastating impact the pandemic has had on Black businesses, as well the issue of unemployment that continues to hound Black Americans at a higher rate more than any other racial group.

Black Businesses Are Buckling Under the Threat of COVID-19

“More than 20 years of building our investment in Black communities have taught us that the way to narrow the wealth gap is to widen the door of opportunity,” said David M. Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs about the NinetyToZero initiative.

Anti-poverty organization the Robin Hood Foundation will serve as an incubator for the program in its inaugural year, while Wharton will provide research services to help guide the specific actions under NinetyToZero aimed at building racial equity.

Those actions include the initial group of companies creating internal goals to measure their progress in hiring Black employees, improve those employees’ access to asset building tools, tie inclusivity efforts to accountability for executives and working with Black-owned banks and other financial institutions.

“Closing the racial wealth gap is more than a zero-sum game. When Black families have economic security and agency, everyone benefits,” said Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore.

“Starbucks believes in using our scale for good and we will address the systemic barriers which keep Americans from reaching their full potential,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “Every business has a responsibility—and can influence others—to advance racial equity, create opportunities for others and strengthen the communities it serves.”

The group of leaders is inviting other companies to join the challenge of closing the racial wealth gap, a goal that could raise America’s GDP by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years if accomplished, according to NinetyToZero.

Basically, allowing Black people a fair share of the American pie will make the whole thing richer.

Here’s hoping this initiative is able to accomplish even some of its aims.