Yes, the System Is Failing Us

by Angela Garmon

COVID-19 has changed the way we work, live and do business. In just a matter of days, the world was disrupted by the pandemic. As time progressed, it seemed like some businesses have excelled. Some industries ceased in just a matter of days. Others swiftly shifted their business model to stay afloat. While the world was still grappling with the changes that COVID brought, tension began to build, as Black lives were being taken by what appeared to be a series of hate crimes. 

During seasons of economic decline, it is not unusual to see a rise in social inequality. The socioeconomic gaps tend to widen for minorities and the disenfranchised. Racial tension tends to increase as people become more anxious about making ends meet. Unfortunately, systemic oppression causes this cycle to perpetuate when left unchecked.

Systemic issues infiltrate every facet of society. We have to have uncomfortable conversations to effect change. As a businesswoman, I must use my voice to advocate for changes in the business community. As illustrated in my last article, “Is It The System”, there are still revenue disparities for woman-owned businesses. Looking at the data for businesses owned by women of color (WOC), there are stark differences when compared to our white counterparts. 

As a mother and a Black woman, it is important to me that we address the challenges the country faces to overcome them to ensure that my daughter and generations to come will not have to fight over the same injustices we currently face. Systemic issues impact the slow growth and rapid decline of minorities in the business world. 

Black businesses have seen a 40-percent decline since the pandemic, one of the largest stats amongst minority groups according to Biz Women section of The Business Journals. The published article “Pandemic has crushed number of black-owned businesses” ( spoke to the deterioration of Black-owned businesses. The opening paragraph reads:

“The economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic have been especially devastating for black Americans, with new data revealing a loss of 440,000 black business owners this spring.”

Unfortunately, many Black businesses did not receive adequate funding for PPP or the EIDL. The article went on to share that 95 percent of Black-owned firms had little to no chance of acquiring funding through either program. This is not an uncommon occurrence for Black business owners who seek loans when attempting to launch and scale a business. The same tools and resources are not widely available to people of color.

To put things into perspective, here are some additional stats around growth for WOC. According to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, Black woman-owned businesses are the second largest group behind non-minority women. We make up 21 percent of total woman-owned firms. Yet Black-woman-owned firms generate an average of $24,000 per firm vs. the national average of $142,900 amongst all woman-owned businesses.

In June, in my closing address as president of NAWBO Phoenix, I asked the question, “When was the last time you referred a woman of color to your circle of influence?” The next day, I received a phone call from a member who shared that the question was jarring. She went on to say that she does not have any women of color in her network, and that question caused her to realize that she needed to expand her circle.

I implore you to look at your spending. Are you supporting diverse vendors? Look at your network. If it is homogenous, please diversify. Support change. Support growth. We have to start in our communities and spheres of influence. There is a lot of work to be done to gain equality for people of color. It takes intentionality and purpose. The impact that we can have on the business community by ensuring that we are building the ecosystem that sustains all businesses will be huge. 

Blazing the trail that I started as president of NAWBO Phoenix, I look to continue my efforts in supporting women’s business ownership. Please join me. In August, I am launching The We Are Project. The goal of the project is to create awareness around the revenue and growth disparity for businesses owned by WOC. It is designed to eradicate the gaps that put WOC at a disadvantage and giving them an even playing field to business development. 

The We Are Project is a reminder that it takes more than just one individual to effect change in the world. WE ARE collectively stronger together. As we begin to have deeper conversations around disparity in business ownership, we can become a mirror of reflection that can bridge gaps for growth and collaboration. 

Angela Garmon is founder and business strategist at ARG Coaching & Consulting Group. She uses her 20 years of change management experience to help her clients build their businesses and increase profits by focusing on three key areas: enhancing leadership effectiveness, building team cohesion and improving processes.

Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events