Tuesday, January 13, 2015 was the opening day of Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit - and if you think that title was a mouthful, it's nothing compared to the days activities - which was impactful from beginning to end. This marks the 18th year of the acclaimed three-day conference, which brings together experts in major areas of financing and investment - from venture capital to angel funding; from direct investors to strategic partnerships. There is something of value there for everyone - whether you're a veteran or just getting your feet wet in the realm of investing and high financing.
|Rev. Jesse Jackson Rainbow/PUSH WALL STREET PROJECT ECONOMIC SUMMIT 2015|
Kudos to Rev. Jackson for once again raising the bar, and focusing on areas that have heretofore not been dealt with in the realm of economic parity for Black people and people of color. This year's theme, "Where Wall Street, Main Street & Silicon Valley Converge, focuses on tech, tech stocks, technical innovation, hiring in the tech industry and all things tangential to the ongoing development of silicon valley.
But that wasn't even the big news - The audience let out a collective gasp when Rev. Jackson announced Intel's intention to set aside $300 Million in funds to achieve parity for diverse employees across their entire industry. He stated: "Rainbow/PUSH argues that companies must set measurable diversity and inclusion goals, targets and timetables. Intel has done just that, and more. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is demonstrating visionary leadership by committing the company to a bold new hiring and retention goal to mirror the face of America in its US workforce by achieving full representation of women and under-represented minorities at Intel by 2020. Intel's "parity 2020" commitment is a game changer with the potential to fundamentally transform the diversity and inclusion landscape in the technology industry. "
And Intel is putting a budget behind its vision, committing $300M over the next five years. Called the Diversity in Technology Initiative, it will make investments to build a pipeline of underreprensented engineers & computer scientist; fund programs and business that support more positive representation of women and under-represented minorities in technology and gaming, including increased investments in supplier and diversity and venture capital for minority tech entrepreneurs.
Always thinking of the next generation, Rev. Jackson, who graduated from North Carolina A&T, an HBCU, announced that there would also be an expansion of collaboration with HBCU's to strengthen their infrastructure to teach CS and prepare students to enter the tech industry.
He further stated that "Intel has defined unequivocally and measurably what it means to "do better." They have now set the standard by which all other companies will be measured; othr comanies will be invited to join the "parity pledge" including development of uniform workforce data reporting standards.
Stating that RainbowPUSH will be partnering with Intel to implement this 2020 initiative, he added, "It is our hope that the participation of African Americans and Latinos will be greatly accelerated in the next five years. Participating fully and equitably in this world changing, innovative tech economy is the civil rights imperative of this generation.
African Americans are 14% of the population of the US or some 45 million people. According to Rev. Jackson, "There is no talent deficit, but an opportunity deficit," he stated - having the audience to repeat it after him like a mantra. He further intimated that the tech industry had demonstrated that it can solve the most challenging complex problems in the world - and inclusion is a complex problem. "If we put our collective minds to it, we can solve it, too. Intel's "parity 2020" doesn't just pay lipservice to the problem, he added, "they solved the problem."
In addition to the technical realm, Rev. Jackson turned his attention to private sector hiring and investment, stating it is time to rethink or reimagine our approach to finances and progress. "Historically the Black middle class has grown as the result of government initiatives, government jobs, government contracts and sometimes government mandates, thereby letting the private sector off the hook. A recent Survey on Consumer Finances on the wealth and income of African American is stark, according to Rev. Jackson. One in three Blacks has less than $1,000 in wealth; for whites the number is one in nine. Median wealth levels are $11,000 for Blacks and $134,000 for whites.
Per Rev. Jackson, while much has been written about a race gap - but there is no race gap - there is an investment gap; an historical legal gap, and an imbalance of trade gap. These gaps have limited growth and development, but there is no job we cannot perform, no goods and services we cannot provide, if given the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. Stating "There is no job we cannot perform," he called for the private sector to make the marketplace more inclusive.
Day Two will get underway with "Money Where it Matters: Managing Corporate Endowment and Foundation Funds;" "Access to Capital Part II - Securing the Money Minority Businesses Need to Grow;" "The Business of HipHop and Examining Next Steps;" "Building It Together - Why Strategic Partnerships Work: "After The Cheering Stops: The Next Generation of Athlete DealMakers."
If today's session is anything like yesterday's events, there will definitely be something for every one. The Wall Street Project Initiative conference will also, provides you an opportunity to expand and grow and be a part of the economic solution that moves our individual and collective agendas forward.
The Rev. Jackson and is team of researchers and experts have empaneled some of the foremost experts in their various fields to bring you first hand knowledge, methodologies and solutions. Make it your business to take care of business and avail yourself of this unique opportunity.
Stay Blessed &