Wall Street Project Economic Summit: Mission Solution

The Summit tackles problems of inequality in the financial sector while searching for solutions

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On Tuesday, February 16, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund kicked off the 19th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit themed The New Paradigm–Access to Opportunity, on a mission to challenge Corporate America to end the multi-billion dollar trade deficit with minority vendors and consumers, while working to ensure equal opportunities for culturally-diverse employees, entrepreneurs and consumers.

[Related: Microsoft Board Chair John W. Thompson’s ‘Fireside Chat’ a Highlight of Wall Street Project Annual Gala]

Tuesday’s sessions proved to be enlightening as panels discussed the successes attained in implementing diverse manager programs; financial education as it relates to impacting minority communities; innovative investment strategies providing insight on enhancing the quality of existing stock, increasing inventory, rent affordability, and resident retention, and PUSH Tech 2020 featuring live demonstrations from companies developing technology in the tri-state area.

Tuesday server as the igniter for a week of vibrant discussion and calls to action.

Wednesday, February 17, the Summit took on the access to opportunities on Wall Street by tackling the volatility of the stock market, the instability of public sector entities, and the effect it has on minority and women-owned firms.

“The panel challenges the business landscape and works to see how challenges may turn to opportunities in moving businesses forward,” says Derek Dingle, senior vice president/chief content officer at Black Enterprise, the panels interviewer.

Speakers James F. Haddon, senior managing director and head of marketing, Ramirez Asset Management, Jeffrey L. Humber Jr., senior vice president, public finance, PNC Bank, Suzanne Shank, chairwoman and CEO, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. and Marianne Spraggins, chief marketing officer, BondFactor shared their insight and ideals on leveraging relationships and adaptation in order to thrive in the stock market and public sector entities despite the general tradition of Wall Street being an ‘old boys club.’

When asked what can be done to force inclusion and diversity on Wall Street, the conversation grew passionate.

“We have commitment to African American team members on minority and majority firms,” says Jeffrey L. Humber, SVP, public finance, PNC Bank. “Our responsibility is to be that voice on those boards. We ourselves have to raise the question of diversity on the boards we sit on.”

Marianne Spraggins had her own take on what’s needed in order to thrive:

1. We have to expand our horizons. We can’t become broken records. We don’t have the same powerful minority mayors and there has to be external forces that apply pressure to build business. We have to leverage the influence we do have.

2. African Americans have to come together with Hispanics—in that there is power.

3. We have to expand internationally. We have to trace places around the world where we can get business.

4. We have to be entrepreneurs. We have to take risk and create our own businesses and find ways to be strategic about working together business to business.

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