Black Enterprise and Equitable Alliance Helps Advance Black Americans
BE 50th Anniversary Leadership

Black Enterprise and Equitable Alliance Helps Advance The Black Community Over Five Decades

Equitable CEO Coy Eklund receives Corporate Social Responsibility Award from Coretta Scott King in 1980

When BLACK ENTERPRISE Founder and Publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. met Coy G. Eklund—then president and CEO of Equitable—five decades ago, the two shared a philosophy that the commitment to “leveling the playing field” must come from the top. As such, Eklund maintained, “At Equitable, our signature theme is equality of opportunity.”

This long-standing relationship has been influential in driving the economic progression of the Black community within and outside of the company. BE has helped Equitable advance initiatives, as well as expand direct talent recruitment and client outreach through, among other vehicles, advertising in a publication that would grow to reach 4 million readers nationwide.

With the help of Darwin Davis, one of the firm’s top financial professionals and leading Black executives, the strategic partnership was further cemented by the business imperative of Equitable connecting with BE’s audience of upscale entrepreneurs and professionals.

Earl G. Graves Sr
BE Founder Earl G. Graves Sr. with past
Equitable CEOs Coy Eklund and John Carter and other business leaders

The company sponsored the Black Enterprise/Equitable Ski Challenge and BE’s Financial Empowerment Series. The execution of such business-building events was led by John C. Graves, who presided over BE’s events unit and had served on Equitable’s corporate board. (See related story)

Equitable has also earned the well-deserved reputation as a model for inclusive, impactful corporate leadership. Through independent research and reporting, BE identified Equitable as one of the “Best Places for Blacks to Work” in 1982, 1986, 1989, and 1992.

Examples include:

  • Hiring of Black financial professionals to expand the customer base
  • Identifying Black professionals in management succession planning
  • Establishing the CEO Taskforce to Advance Racial Equity to accelerate advancement in the Black community
Earl G. Graves Sr
Equitable has been consistently recognized by BE for being one of the Best Places For Blacks To Work

Darryl Gibbs, Lead Director and Associate General Counsel, who oversees the CEO Task Force, maintains that the alliance continues to drive advocacy and action for the progression of African Americans within and outside the company, especially during today’s challenging environment. “In this time of COVID and social and racial unrest, there is a focus on Black entrepreneurship and a focus on patronizing Black businesses,” Gibbs says. “BE provides the optimum platform for financial education and support for our current crop of Black entrepreneurs. As Equitable continues to support the Black community through our financial products, support and education, we also view BE as the perfect partner to get out the message that Equitable is a “force for good” for racial and financial equity in the Black community.”

This 50-year relationship continues to flourish and is best summed up from a quote from one of Publisher Graves’ columns: “Equitable has long been considered a good corporate citizen. The bond between Black Enterprise and Equitable extends beyond that of a magazine and its advertiser. It encompasses close personal ties … in addition to productive business partners.”


This content was sponsored by Equitable, the brand name of the retirement and protection subsidiaries of Equitable Holdings, Inc., including Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial) (NY, NY); Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company of America (Equitable America), an AZ stock company with main administrative headquarters in Jersey City, NJ; and Equitable Distributors, LLC. Equitable Advisors is the brand name of Equitable Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI and TN). Equal Opportunity Employer – M/F/D/V. The 160-year history reference applies exclusively to Equitable Financial. GE-3330056 (11/20) (Exp. 11/22) | GE-3330072 (11/20) (Exp. 11/22)

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