As Nasdaq celebrates Women’s History Month, we recognize that women of color still face tremendous barriers that are preventing them from participating in the capital markets and creating long-term wealth. From poverty to a lack of financial education and chronic underfunding of women entrepreneurs of color, deep societal disparities exist that are undermining growth and potential in communities of color. At Nasdaq’s recent Purpose Stakeholder event, which was held virtually under Chatham House Rules, a range of leading voices on investor engagement, inclusive capital markets and diversity in investing discussed how to activate meaningful change – and the role that Nasdaq can play through our Purpose Initiative to advance inclusive growth and prosperity, particularly for women of color.
Many participants agreed that education must be a priority, and it should start at an early age. By bringing financial literacy and investor education programs into high school classrooms, they can narrow the confidence and skills gap that drives the wealth gap by giving younger generations the tools they need to build financial security. In turn, they can share that knowledge with their family members and the broader community. Participants noted the importance of establishing financial literacy education that can be standardized across the country to ensure that every child is afforded the same opportunities. Through partnerships and pilot programs with schools, there’s an opportunity to tackle one part of the cycle of inequity.
Support for minority entrepreneurs, through funding, mentoring, and resources, remains a key focal area in reducing the racial wealth gap. It’s essential to provide greater access to capital for these entrepreneurs, as well as crucial resources to drive growth, whether it is through additional capital or through mentoring and networking. While there are many different routes to supporting entrepreneurship and achieving financial security, the roundtable recognized an important bridge: minority entrepreneurs can personally succeed and then can better respond to the needs of minority groups among their employees, customers and communities – who, therefore, can be better empowered to overcome barriers and access wealth.
This is a critically important moment of opportunity to drive change, particularly amid heightened attention on the issue of racial injustice. At Nasdaq, we are fully invested in our Purpose to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, creating more equitable opportunities and contributing to a more sustainable world to help our communities, clients, employees and people of all backgrounds reach their full potential.
As we strive to accelerate progress in diversifying entrepreneurship and empowering a more diverse group of investors, the Nasdaq Foundation recently announced its Quarterly Grant Program, as well as new research collaborations with the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program and Commonwealth, a U.S. non-profit focused on financial security. Both initiatives will contribute to the Foundation’s reimagined mission to equip under-represented communities with the knowledge and solutions to create long-term wealth and financial security.
Going forward, Nasdaq’s stakeholder roundtables will continue to build relationships with important external voices and stimulate new and fresh thinking, including practical approaches for making investing in capital markets more relevant and more accessible as a route to wealth creation for people of color, and especially women of color.
Nasdaq's call to advance economic progress for all has never been stronger, nor more urgent than it is today.