How Google helps you shop Black-owned businesses

Plus, meet the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company

Feb 15, 2021 | Current events
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To honor Black History Month, The Post is highlighting the most relevant financial issues for Black communities in America today. Join us every Monday in February for more.

Okay Google, how do I support Black-owned businesses?

The search giant is making it a little easier. On February 1, Google announced it’s expanding a feature that lets businesses add a ‘Black-owned’ badge to their profile in Maps, Search, and (coming soon) Shopping results. With Covid-19 still raging, those small badges could make all the difference to businesses’ bottom lines in the coming months. That may sound dramatic, but it starts to make sense when you consider Black-owned businesses’ tumultuous 2020. Forty-one percent of these companies closed between February and April. Meanwhile, Google searches for ‘Black-owned businesses’ spiked 600% in the last year, with global action for racial justice likely driving the surge. And so, the ultimate search gatekeeper is using its position to connect customers with the businesses they want to support, plus boosting Black businesses in other ways, too. Free “Grow with Google” coaches have mentored 58,000 Black and Latino business owners to date, and Google teamed up with the US Black Chambers to host virtual webinars and training sessions.

Are Black Americans the country’s most charitable group?

Nearly two-thirds of Black households donate to community-based organizations and causes, to the tune of $11 billion a year. To put that in perspective, a group of 250 multi-billion-dollar companies surveyed in 2018 earned a combined revenue of $7.9 trillion, but donated just $25.7 billion. In other words, corporations gave away less than 1% of their pre-tax income, or just 2.5x more than Black American families. What’s more, Black households routinely donate a greater share of their wealth than households of other races, despite an average median wealth that’s $160,000 less than that of their White counterparts. The most popular philanthropic causes include higher education and the arts, orgs that serve the Black community, and Black churches. And how do we account for the difference? One Washington Post reporter ascribes the phenomenon to a culture that prioritizes philanthropy alongside a history of Black Americans giving from their incomes to help “fill in [the] gaps” when their communities are underserved.

Walgreens taps Rosalind Brewer for its next CEO

When Rosalind Brewer becomes Walgreens’ CEO next month, she’ll also take on a second title: the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company. It’s no secret that US boardrooms and executive teams are lacking in the diversity department — the list of Fortune 500 CEOs only includes four Black men. But nearly a year into corporate America’s reckoning with its role in repairing racial divides, Brewer’s appointment carries even more weight. Her first order of business? Navigating Walgreens’ vaccine rollout for a virus that’s disproportionately affected Black Americans. The Rx chain hopes Brewer can steer the company to compete with brands like CVS and Amazon Pharmacy, and maybe even reassure some Black Americans that the vaccine is safe along the way. It wouldn’t be the first time her perspective as a Black woman has proven a plus. Months after Brewer began heading up operations at Starbucks, she navigated the fallout when two Black men waiting in a cafe were profiled and arrested.

Wanted in Chicago: Black-owned startups in stealth mode

Big Tech famously loves to disrupt traditional businesses. It’s also famous for sidelining women and racial minorities. Just 7% of tech workers and only 2% of tech CEOs are Black. That’s what inspired 1871 — a Chicago-based tech incubator out to disrupt the disruptors — to found BLK•Tech (very Silicon Valley of them to spell it that way). The 12-week accelerator and mentoring program helps Black-led startups get their ideas off the ground. Verizon and the William Blair brokerage both signed on to sponsor the program, and participants get access to three months of peer-learning and mentoring sessions. The first cohort has kicked off, but 1871 is already accepting applications for its next class of budding entrepreneurs, with another program set to launch in September.