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Eastern Bank Hosts Color & Capital For Good Virtual Town Hall

By Vanessa Lewis, Jul. 30, 2020
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The numbers just confirmed what many members of the Boston community have experienced firsthand: Black households in Boston have a median net worth of just $8 compared to over $200,000 for White households. In response to these numbers, Eastern Bank launched the Color & Capital For Good campaign, which is aimed at educating the Boston business community about the racial wealth gap and finding solutions to end these disparities.

Eastern Bank's June 22 virtual town hall was born of a concern for small businesses in crisis. Black, Latinx, and immigrant businesses owners need information, resources, and capital to weather the storm they're in right now and to plan for a more sustainable future. Eastern Bank realized that there needed to be a conversation about how to empower marginalized professionals and business owners as our communities continue to recover from the economic crisis related to the pandemic.

Bob Rivers Delivered Opening Remarks and Pandemic Insights
A live video welcome from Eastern Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Rivers set the tone. His opening drew attention to the institutional racism that affects communities of color. Pandemic recovery initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program disproportionately excluded minority and immigrant business owners from receiving those funds, so as a leader of a major financial organization in Massachusetts, Rivers wanted to know how he could help.

"I'm here to listen to all of you and learn from you and take your guidance as to what I can do as a business leader, with other business leaders, to make immediate and significant change," he said before introducing Boston's mayor, Marty Walsh.

Mayor Marty Walsh and Glynn Lloyd Continued the Conversation
Mayor Marty Walsh spoke highly of Rivers, saying that he has a reputation for putting his money where his mouth is. After sharing a few words of inspiration, Walsh talked about the city's municipal approach to supporting economic recovery in communities of color, adding that the time is here to "not just talk about it."
Sharifah Niles-Lane, vice-president of digital marketing at Eastern Bank, then shared more about the campaign's goal to empower Black and Latinx professionals and played a short video highlighting the campaign participants.

Foundation for Business Equity founder Glynn Lloyd shared the history of the profit benefit to upholding racism in our country. As an advocate for economic justice, Lloyd implored viewers to observe racial economic gaps and hold themselves accountable to help fill them.

Entrepreneurs and Leaders of Color Hosted a Panel Discussion
During a panel discussion moderated by Bernadine Desanges of Know Your Truths. Speak Your Truths., an inspiring mix of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, business leaders, and political figures discussed the origins of Boston's racial wealth gap and how the public and private sectors can help people of color build wealth. The panelists included Jessicah Pierre of Queens Company, Josiane Martinez of Archipelago Strategies Group, Segun Idowu of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, and Daniel Perez of DPV Transportation.

It became clear the shared sentiment among the group was that creating change requires working together and employing actionable solutions. According to the panelists, these solutions include greater access to opportunity for all people of color, more capital for small business owners, more affordable housing in the greater Boston area, and leadership teams and values that reflect a business's community.

Prominent leaders in the Boston community joined them for the discussion, including Malia Lazu of Berkshire Bank, who talked about helping small business owners secure funding, and Natalia Urtubey, director of small business for the city of Boston, who shared how she supports small businesses owners and helps them define what success means to them.

Quincy Miller Led a Community Pledge
After the illuminating panel conversation, Eastern Bank President Quincy Miller reminded participants that these are just small steps. He closed the Color & Capital For Good town hall with a community pledge that challenged each participant to immerse themselves in what it means to support small businesses owned by people of color and to take actionable steps to end the racial wealth gap.

Learn more about how you can help to close the racial wealth gap in Boston and start building a more equal Boston with the Color & Capital For Good campaign.

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