Google Employees Continue Push for Top-Down Diversity

By Alexandra Bacchus

  • Google’s shareholders & workers propose a new resolution to fix the lack of diversity

  • In 2018, Google’s workforce was 2.5% black compared to 1.9% in 2014

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An employee led effort at Google (GOOG -0.26%) is putting pressure on the board to improve racial and gender diversity at the company. This comes after last year’s failed attempt to tie diversity metrics to executive bonuses or other financial incentives to motivate top down change.

Why This Matters: After last year’s shareholder proposal to tie diversity benchmarks to executive pay, Google said the proposal would not, “enhance Alphabet’s existing commitment to corporate sustainability.” However, many other companies would disagree like Microsoft (MSFT 0.19%), Intel (INTC -0.11%), and IBM (IBM -0.32%) all tie leadership bonuses to their inclusion goals in some form or another. While Google’s workforce has become more diverse in the past few years, the numbers are only climbing slowly. In 2018, their workforce was 2.5% black compared to 1.9% in 2014. By comparison, African-Americans make up 14% of the United States population.

Is School Choice the Black Choice?

By The74

  • School Choice advocates seek to offer alternative methods of education for black students

  • Three-quarters of Atlanta Public Schools’ 52,000 students are black

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An impassioned discussion on school choice that shook a Morehouse College auditorium and brought several attendees to their feet was led by broadcast journalist Roland Martin. These gatherings seek to engage black families and stakeholders on issues of educational equity, student achievement, and parent involvement. So is school choice the black choice?

Why This Matters: The fiery debate may have offered the contentious narrative that the black community is battling itself on school choice. Atlanta charter school founder Gavin Samms said it was quite the opposite, and that the African-American community must work together to set a specific agenda for their children.

Bet It All on Black Businesses

By Taylor Durham

  • Black entrepreneurship increased by 400% from 2017 to 2018

  • 38% of all Black businesses are owned by women

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Black business ownership has dramatically increased, largely in part to due Black women, who own more businesses than any other minority group. Still, access to capital is an issue that plagues minority owners, many being forced to leverage their own cash to build their companies. With investing reported to grow to more than $300 billion by 2020, why aren’t more investors willing to bet on Black?

Why This Matters: For an aspiring business owner, reaching out to a bank or credit union for a small business loan is a commonly accepted practice. In fact, most businesses need the loan in order to secure the necessities required to get started (equipment, location, supplies, etc.). A business owner can face many challenges, but none has been more challenging to Black business owners than financing.

Avoiding Unintentionally Crimping the U.S. Economy

By CultureBanx Team

  • Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic warns against inadvertently crimping the U.S. economy

  • In 2018, the Fed raised interest rates 4 times

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The demand for reserves at the central bank has Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic sounding the alarm against unintentionally crimping the U.S. economy. Some of the uncertainty is due to the uneasy outlook in regards to U.S. trade tensions with China.

Why This Matters: Bostic along with his fellow policy makers are prudently looking at the Fed’s balance sheet, a number that stood at $4.5 trillion during the financial crisis interventions, and has since come down to $4 trillion. The FOMC members will determine just how much lower they should allow the central banks account to decline.

Afrocentric Schools Take Center Stage in NYC

By CultureBanx Team

  • NYC Afrocentric schools aim to empower black children

  • Brooklyn Afrocentric schools have 2,300 students enrolled

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In New York City’s 1,800 public schools, many have specialized themes like engineering, math and fine arts. Now an alternative choice for schools is popping up dedicated to servicing the African American community. Schools that incorporate an Afrocentric approach are more prevalent in large urban education systems disproportionately populated by African American students, and aim to empower black children in ways that traditional schools in America historically have not.

Why This Matters: Ember Charter School is one such educational institution in Brooklyn specifically designed for black children and comes at a time when the education gap is widening, as the New York Times points out. . There are more than 12 of these new age Afrocentric private and charter schools scattered across Brooklyn. They have around 2,300 students enrolled, tend to have high graduation rates and standardized test scores, compared to the city average.

SoundCloud Ready to Play With Apple Music & Spotify

By CultureBanx Team

  • SoundCloud allowing artist to distribute music directly to Spotify & Apple Music

  • Currently SoundCloud has 20M creators on its platform

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Artist first platform SoundCloud has thrown their hat in the ring for music distribution, by adding its own tools to premium accounts. The Premier tier of SoundCloud will allow artists to upload their tracks to music streaming services like Spotify (SPOT +1.80%), Amazon Music (AMZN +0.75%), Apple Music (AAPL +1.12%) and even Instagram. Most SoundCloud rappers can host a masterclass in self-promotion. With the top streaming artist being from the hip hop genre, SoundCloud will need to entice more indie rappers to join its platform.

Why This Matters: SoundCloud’s new Premiere distribution channel should streamline the money artists receive from various platforms, and help monetize their music through a revenue sharing program. By Investing in tools artists need they can offer more value and potentially become a more profitable company, instead of trying to directly compete with Apple Music and Spotify.

Cannabis Craze Pressures Metal Mining in Africa

By CultureBanx Team

  • Cannabis investors are siphoning away capital from African mining companies

  • The top 3 listed cannabis companies have a combined market value of $30B

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A boom in cannabis investment along with Canada’s legalization of the product is siphoning capital away from mining companies in Africa. Other jurisdictions are following suit or liberalizing their laws on medical or health use, creating an industry that has lured a breed of high-risk, high-return investors.

Why This Matters: In Africa cannabis companies are setting up projects in Lesotho, while other countries, including Zimbabwe and South Africa, plan to issue licenses. The rise of cannabis comes at a time when investors were already turning away from mining. The mining companies operating in Africa are already viewed by many investors as a particularly risky bet and have been doubly hit, according to Reuters.

Pinterest Adds Inclusive Beauty Searches Ahead of IPO

By Donitra Clemons

  • Pinterest’s new search technology lets users filter results by skin tone ahead of IPO

  • Advertisers to further capitalize on the $1.3T African-American annual consumer spend

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Pinterest, a social media network known for its emphasis on visual discovery and digital inspiration boards, recently rolled out a new technology within the platform to filter hair and beauty searches based on skin tone. As many tech companies struggle with diversity and inclusivity, has Pinterest unlocked the perfect way to tap into the $1.3 trillion that African American consumers spend?

Why This Matters: The black community spent $54 million in the ethnic hair and beauty industry, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by platforms like Pinterest. Simply stated this translates to Black dollars accounting for about 86% of the market.  

Google & Microsoft Sound The Alarm on Bad A.I.

By CultureBanx Team

  • Microsoft & Google warn investors that bad A.I. could harm their brands

  • Worldwide spending on cognitive and AI systems to reach $77.6B in 2022

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Tech companies Microsoft (MSFT +1.23%) and Google (GOOG -0.72%) have sounded the alarm on just how harmful artificial intelligence can be for investors and brands alike. A.I. is still the most disputed part of technology and is becoming increasingly more commonplace as companies look to incorporate it across their platforms. While critics call for justification for the use of the technology and in some cases an all-out ban, A.I. continues to be a billion dollar industry, with many tech companies willing to withstand a tarnished brand reputation for lucrative profits.

Why This Matters: In Google’s recently released SEC annual report it highlighted their brand concerns around A.I. that could impact the company’s bottom line. “New products and services, including those that incorporate or utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning, can raise new or exacerbate existing ethical, technological, legal, and other challenges, which may negatively affect our brands and demand for our products and services and adversely affect our revenues and operating results,”  the company wrote.

Hip Hop’s Original Denim: Levi’s Goes From Main Street Back to Wall Street

By Fredrick Lee

  • Levi’s IPO could raise between $600M - $800M

  • Denim market value is more than $100B

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Hip hop’s first denim brand Levi Strauss officially filed to return to the public markets under the ticker “LEVI,” three decades after it went private. The move comes after Levi’s hugely profitable 2018, including collaborations with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White and Beyoncé at Coachella, all helped the denim maker capitalize on the resurgence of denim.     

Why This Matters: Long-term loyalty with the hip hop and African American community dating back to the 1980’s only heightens Levi’s growth. Last year, the iconic denim brand had a reported increased revenue of $5.6 billion and $283 million in net income.  It is seeing emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil develop a growing interest in denim fashion. In 2018, the denim market grew four percent to a worldwide retail value of more than $100 billion.

Prada’s Diversity Council Wants To Avoid Blackface Backlash

By CultureBanx Team

  • Prada forms diversity council with Theaster Gates & Ava DuVernay

  • Revenues in the first six months of 2018 were up 9.4% for Prada

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Italian fashion house Prada is pulling out all the stops with a new diversity council to  pre-empt any blackface backlash. They’ve brought in sculptor Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, both will be tasked to “elevate voices of color.” With hip-hop’s influence on the luxury fashion sector, can Prada’s diversity council help to close the massive gap between a post-racial fashion industry and today’s reality?

Why This Matters: It has been said by many people the fashion industry has failed the black community, all while appropriating its culture. Case in point, Prada had come under fire for products and marketing seen as racially insensitive. Last December, the company displayed a monkey figurine that resembled blackface. With this new diversity council Prada has pulled together they want to address these issues and create internship and apprenticeship programs in diverse communities.

A.I. Challenges Inherent Healthcare Bias

By Taylor Durham

  • A.I. healthcare programs risks socioeconomic and racial bias

  • By 2025, the A.I. in healthcare market is estimated to reach $36.1B

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The healthcare industry continues to incorporate artificial intelligence into many of its platforms, and early indicators reveal the technology outperforms and offers more accurate diagnoses than doctors. Healthcare has always struggled with income and race based inequities rooted in various forms of bias. A.I. seems like a sensible investment for the facilitation of most day-to-day healthcare activities, so should minorities approach the subject matter with apprehension?

Why This Matters: A.I. is an attractive proposal but with any technology, it comes with a list of growing concerns. In regards to A.I. in the healthcare market it’s estimated to be valued at $2.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $36.1 billion by 2025. This sector is heavily reliant on large complex data sets, and medicine has long struggled to include minorities in research, leading to erroneous conclusions.