The New Majority

The new majority is something I’ve written about before in the context of funding and investment and the general success of business owners now, in the present.  I recently attended a fascinating webinar from the Project 2043 about what the new majority will look like in the future.  From the 2043 project website :

“The US is on the fast track to becoming the first modern nation without a racial majority.  Our ability to ensure that our laws, institutions, and practices treat people fairly, and equitably is more important than ever.  At Project 2043 we believe that to achieve this, education and action are required.”

I became familiar with Project 2043 through my friend Andrea Dunathan who encouraged me to attend the workshop. After that, it seemed like the universe was bringing me and Julye Williams, the founder together.  We connected through Hera Hub and both attended a Silver Spring Chamber event.

The presentation Julye gave was captivating one) because it described what the world will look like and two) it encouraged attendees to think about how it would affect them in their businesses.

Two pie charts next to each other. The one on the right shows U.S. demographics from 1950 with the white population at 89.2%, Black at 10$ and Indigenous at 0.2%. The pie chart on the left shows the projected demographics for the US in 2045. The white population now accounts for 49.7% of the population, Hispanic, 24.6, Black 13.1, Asian 7.9, and Multi-racial 3.8%

Data that informs Project 2043

So often in these conversations we discuss the issues and challenges facing groups that have been traditionally under-represented and under-estimated in business. Julye’s presentation asked the question about what opportunities these demographic shifts would afford us.

Demographic Shifts are Not Magic

This is not to say that these shifts will automatically result in a multi-ethnic utopia. As we discussed during the presentation, we’re already seeing the friction and in some cases violence that fear of these changes brings.

In addition, the wealth gap will not just equalize with the change in demographics. According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

“In 1989, white people made up 74.6% of all households and controlled 89% of all assets. In 2022, white people made up 64% of all households and had roughly 81% of all assets.”

So you don’t need to have a majority to have the majority of the wealth.

Looking Forward

At the same time, what I appreciated about the conversation was the way it opened us up to possibilities that these demographic shifts would provide.  The Project 2043 website asks us to consider in our own organizations:

  • The status quo and the risks of maintaining it
  • What actions to take so our businesses are planning and prepared for the future

I’ve been considering those questions as a business owner who works in a field defined by diversity.

This week I spoke with a group of college students from American University about my work, my business, and B Corp certification.  A couple of questions came up in reference to the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action and legal attacks on programs geared toward Black business owners and ESG generally.

Students wondered if focusing on diversity, inclusion and sustainability undermined the project of making businesses profitable but these statements from committed capitalists show that sustainability is embedded within the purpose of these companies.

Success and sustainability are Linked

My answer to this question is bolstered by the numbers presented by Project 2043 and stems from my experience in this space for twenty years. The perception of the threat to these programs pre-supposes that by investing in diversity or sustainability, the profits of the company will suffer. In fact, the opposite is true: Success and sustainability are linked.

There is a lot of research about the business case for diversity and for sustainability, especially when looking at long term returns. And even when I don’t completely agree with all the points in the research, my feeling is that we should believe the captains of industry who for years have been telling us sustainability, social and environmental, is good business.

I’m not a believer that business people have to be pure of mind and spirit to do the right thing.  I say, Go ahead, invest in sustainability and diversity because you are looking at the numbers and want your business to be profitable.

I’m fine with that.