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Breaking Barriers: New Report Highlights Business Case for Addressing Racial and Ethnic Equity Through Social Innovation

  • A Schwab Foundation report presents three pathways for social innovators, companies and governments to leverage diversity and foster economic growth.
  • The new research provides scalable lessons on how to drive value creation by addressing systemic socioeconomic exclusion at the local and global levels.
  • Six unique case studies demonstrate how cross-sector collaboration and best practice sharing can sustainably spur equity, innovation and growth for all.
  • Read more about the report here.

Geneva, Switzerland, 21 March 2024 – A report released today by the Schwab Foundation’s Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship outlines a series of social innovation solutions for integrating racial and ethnic equity into business practices and unlocking economic growth worldwide.

The report, Innovating for Equity: Unlocking Value for Communities and Businesses – published in partnership with Echoing Green, the GHR Foundation and Dalberg – provides pathways for collaboration between social innovators from racial and ethnically marginalized communities, governments and companies to harness largely untapped opportunities for the global economy.

“This report represents a call to action for leaders from across the public and private sectors to address racial and ethnic equity – not just as a moral imperative, but as a clear and compelling business case,” said François Bonnici, Director of the Schwab Foundation and Head of Foundations at the World Economic Forum. “By doing so, they can contribute to a more just and equitable society and unlock new avenues for sustainable economic growth and innovation.”

In the US alone, the widening racial wealth gap is estimated to cost up to $1.5 trillion in economic growth by 2028. This translates to a cap on GDP growth of 6%. The report shows how key stakeholders can work together to unlock this potential and galvanize the global economy.

To this end, the report features social innovators who have successfully partnered with companies and governments, providing clear, actionable lessons on how to drive value creation by addressing systemic economic exclusion. These cases illustrate examples of social innovators who are scaling solutions in ways that combine social value with commercial opportunity.

“Supporting these largely untapped areas of innovation and growth has the potential to include millions of customers, employees, entrepreneurs and investors in the global economy,” said Cheryl L. Dorsey, President of Echoing Green. “Economic equity can be a pivotal driver of growth in the US and globally. Now is the time for corporations, policy-makers and innovators to come together and drive meaningful, system-wide transformation.”

Using six unique case studies, the report presents three scalable pathways for collaboration between social innovators, corporations and governments. Each of the three pathways combines a socially innovative approach to value creation that also addresses inequities at the root level:

Expanding markets: This approach highlights the value of providing products and services that better meet the needs of different communities. Through the examples of two innovators in disparate geographic contexts – sub-Saharan Africa and the US – the report shows how tailored delivery models can improve local business operations and sustainably grow and empower local communities.

Unlocking talent: This spotlights how more equitable hiring practices can unlock untapped talent pools, reshape employment opportunities and remove existing barriers faced by individuals, businesses, and communities. The case studies illustrating the way forward are two US-based social innovators who have strengthened their talent pipelines through efforts to dismantle racial and ethnic biases faced by Black and Latinx communities.

Broadening networks: This pathway focuses on the importance of building more diverse and inclusive supplier ecosystems that can help counteract entrenched historical marginalization. This is exemplified in the report by two social innovators who are connecting underrepresented Black and Indigenous vendors with global companies, bringing new markets and fair compensation to these vendors, and new and more authentic products to consumers worldwide.

About the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
In partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation is the foremost global community of pioneering social innovators driving systemic change. For further information, click here.

About the Schwab Foundation’s Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship
The Schwab Foundation’s Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is the largest multistakeholder coalition in support of the social innovation sector. It brings together a rich and growing ecosystem of corporations, investors, philanthropists, governments, researchers, media and industry actors. For further information, click here.

About Echoing Green
For 35 years, Echoing Green has been on the frontlines of solving the world’s biggest problems, supporting transformational leaders willing to speak truth to power and challenge the status quo. It discovers tomorrow’s leaders today, and then funds, connects and supports a new generation of social impact leaders. For further information, click here.

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