Business & Entrepreneurship Diversity: Mellody Hobson, Tracee Ellis Ross Make Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion at CNBC's Opportunity Forum by Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds

Career Become the Fire
2 years ago
Business & Entrepreneurship Diversity: Mellody Hobson, Tracee Ellis Ross Make Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion at CNBC's Opportunity Forum

Diversity in business, career and entrepreneurship has never been more important than now. With the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affecting women and people of color, we're facing an economic crisis in which inclusion is absolutely vital. In fact, about 53 percent of small business owners don’t expect to return to pre-COVID operations for at least the next six months, and 18 percent of small business owners of color say they will be forced to close their businesses this year. 

Women and moms have been particularly hard. Specifically, according to CNBC, 5.4 million women have lost their jobs during the pandemic, one million more than men. And, according to Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, for every three mothers who have left the workforce, one father has.

CNBC launched its Opportunity Forum in response to the economic and social justice issues we are facing, stating: "Creating an inclusive economy goes well beyond the workforce; it’s about expanding opportunities so more people can have the ability to achieve success. The Inclusion in Action: CNBC Opportunity Forum examines strategies and initiatives for organizations that create equity and opportunity not just for employees but also customers, clients, suppliers and the broader community to create lasting change."

Mellody Hobson is Co-CEO and President at Ariel InvestmentsChair of the Board at Starbucks and Board Director at J.P. Morgan, among other roles. Having been a trailblazer who has shattered glass ceilings her entire career, Hobson is uniquely qualified to make the business case for diversity.

She noted that when creating an inclusive economy, you need to look at the "three Ps": people, purchasing and philanthropy. "Diversity can be a competitive advantage," she said. "Ariel is probably the most diverse investment management firm, so we get more than our fair share of diverse talent, which helps with potential customers. The more diverse the company, it means better work produced and solving more problems."

Tracee Ellis Ross is the founder and CEO of Pattern Beauty, and the new Diversity and Inclusion Adviser for Ulta Beauty. She shared how building her beauty brand was inspired by the journey she took with her "curly, coily and tight-textured hair." Her mission with the brand to celebrate the joy, beauty and diversity of black people started with her first business pitch – 12 years ago. Part of her struggle included educating others about why hers is not a niche market. "Our industry uses numbers to quantify our worth, but we are more expansive than that," she said. "The validity of our needs does not need to be justified."

Her role as Diversity and Inclusion Adviser to Ulta Beauty evolved from the dialogue she was already having with the company. "It was a natural extension of what I was sharing with them, and they are a company willing to lean into change," she said. "This is a societal issue we are all working through. We need to create societal change."

Other powerful speakers featured at today's event include: Roel Campos, Latino Corporate Directors Association Chair and Former SEC Chairman Maria Contreras-Sweet, Small Business Administration Former Administrator Roger Ferguson, TIAA CEO Tandra Jackson, KPMG Vice Chair, Growth & Strategy Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code Founder and CEO.

To learn more and get additional resources, visit CNBC EventsCNBC Inclusion and BecomeTheFire.

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Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
This was a very powerful event. Kudos to CNBC for shining a light on vital issues in our country right now!
This is awesome. We definitely need more diversity in the workforce and more equal opportunities.
Donna John
The glass ceilings women are breaking are so inspirational. Thank you, CNBC, for tackling this important topic.
More diverse teams equals greater success. It's common sense and the data proves it.
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