The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and exacerbated long-standing racial inequities in the American economy including the barriers minority businesses often face in raising capital. Ariel Investments, one of the few large black-owned investment firms in the U.S., has formed a new affiliate to finance minority businesses. On Monday, Feb. 22 at 1:30pm ET, Ariel’s co-chief executive Mellody Hobson joins Washington Post opinions writer Jonathan Capehart to discuss the initiative, and the role corporate America can play in addressing systemic racism.

Highlights

Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments co-CEO and president, says her firm’s new initiative seeks to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses by helping them get capital and customers. “We want those minority businesses to be of the scale that they can be Tier 1 suppliers to Fortune 500 companies. That might sound easy, but 95 percent of MBE (Minority Business Enterprises) have less than $5 million in revenue.” (Washington Post Live)
Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments co-CEO and president, says corporate America needs to be more “color brave.” “I’m going to always take the hopeful route here and say we have become more brave, but we have to be much braver than we are. We are in the early stages of the kind of bravery we are going to have to see, and it’s bravery in a completely different place…Corporate America is having to respond in ways that we’ve never had to respond before.” (Washington Post Live)
Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments co-CEO and president, says being the first or only African American in a leadership position can be “lonely,” but also presents an opportunity to open doors for others. “I think first and only is not enough…I think first of many is the job we all have…How does it feel? It is proud and lonely, but at the same time, it gives you a tremendous advantage sometimes.” (Washington Post Live)
Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments co-CEO and president, pinned a viral image of Vice President Harris walking in the shadow of Ruby Bridges on her Twitter profile. Hobson says the image signified to her, “Ruby Bridges is all of us and Kamala is all of us and just owning that and really understanding the power of that jump in history just over the course of a generation. That is what progress is. Still not enough, still woefully inadequate, but we have to celebrate these moments of change and that is magnificent change.” (Washington Post Live)

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson is Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, LLC and Chairman of the company’s publicly traded mutual funds. She is Co-Founder of Ariel Alternatives, LLC. Additionally, she is Vice Chair and incoming Chair of the board of Starbucks Corporation and a director of JPMorgan Chase. She previously served as Chairman of DreamWorks Animation and was a longstanding board member of the Estée Lauder Companies.