Fault lines exposed

6 days ago 11

This week's top stories: 

An estimated 150 million people slipped down the economic ladder in 2020, the first pullback in nearly three decades. Joe Biden is moving quicker than any modern U.S. president to put forward a large number of judicial nominees -- it's a diverse bunch in keeping with his promise to transform the makeup of the courts. Biden's rewrite of college male-bias rules just got tricky.

In a sign of the unprecedented times we live in, Wall Street bankers are setting a precedent some governments would do well to consider.

Take the public discussions around race on both sides of the Atlantic in the last week.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, launched after the Black Lives Matters protests last year, released a widely criticized report that concluded "the success of much of the ethnic minority population in education, and to a lesser extent the economy, should be regarded as a model for other white majority countries." It also suggested a focus on institutional racism was unnecessary and risked alienating the "decent centre ground."

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe

Contrast that with comments from JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, who spoke of how the pandemic had accentuated racial disparities and acknowledged institutional and systemic racism in his annual letter to shareholders this week. And at BlackRock Inc., Larry Fink told investors the firm was working to improve its diversity and was focused on rooting out misconduct as well as ensuring an environment that doesn't allow it. The money manager has also agreed to an independent racial audit of its operations after a request from a shareholder, breaking ranks with its Wall Street peers who argue they've already taken measures to address racial injustice.

The leaders of global companies are making these public statements and declarations for both their investors and employees. In the competition to attract the best talent, irrespective of race or gender, it helps to be seen as a place that acknowledges disparities and promises to do better.

And the U.K., where recent studies have shown foreign workers are leaving at the fastest pace since World War II, will need to do more than urging those aggrieved about racism to "keep calm and carry on" if it wants to rebuild the economy in a post-pandemic and post-Brexit world. 

- Ruth David

By the Numbers

As the U.S. economy rebounds from the pandemic slump, the Federal Reserve is spotlighting job-market metrics that will indicate when it's time to raise interest rates under their new framework, which redefines the goal of maximum employment as "broad-based and inclusive."

That means a prominent place for metrics like the Black unemployment rate -- it's currently at 9.6%, signaling there's still a long way to go.


Before You Go

This couple is fighting to keep Black money in the sneaker resale market.

Trump's racialized politics made it harder for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and other corporations to stay on the sidelines.

"I see the potential for progress being made." Robin Hood Foundation Chief Executive Officer Wes Moore talks about the struggle for racial equality in America.


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