ESSENCE Releases First Comprehensive Survey on How Black Women Are Impacted by COVID-19

Yesterday, ESSENCE released the Impact of COVID-19 on Black Women study, which is the first in-depth study on how COVID-19 is impacting black women in America. From April 22 – April 30, 2020, the ESSENCE Insights research team sampled 1,048 black women aged 18+ across the U.S. about their experiences during the pandemic in a 10-minute online survey. As black women lead as heads of their households, in the workplace, and in various capacities—ESSENCE answered a question many people want to know during the pandemic. And that is, how are black women doing?

The report highlighted the many concerns and challenges black women are facing, from job loss to health disparities, education, and relationships.

In a statement released by Richelieu Dennis, founder and chair of Essence Ventures, the parent company of ESSENCE he shared, “Black women comprise just over half of the black population, are one of the most influential and active voting blocs in the U.S., and are heads of household in almost 30% of all black households, which is more than twice the rate for all women.”

“So, it is vital that we understand what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing as a result of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. ESSENCE’s Impact of COVID-19 on Black Women study underscores the observation that while we are all in the same storm, we are not in the same boat. The insights gleaned from this data should be used to help governments, NGOs, and businesses better understand and develop the emergency and relief efforts, recovery and sustainability initiatives, and product and service offerings that will be most critical for black women as they continue to deliver leadership and impact to their households and communities during this crisis and beyond.”

The Impact is Greater than Many Thought

As COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the black community, black women are at the helm as matriarchs and they are leading in fear of their health. Sixty-seven percent of women reported that they are concerned about contracting the virus themselves and 80% are concerned that their loved ones could contract the virus. One in 4 respondents personally know someone who has died from COVID-19, and 44% of women reported personally knowing someone who has contracted it.

The report also revealed the mental and emotional distress women are facing during the pandemic.

Financially, over half (52%) of black women in the study are currently facing or anticipating a negative financial impact as a result of the pandemic, as compared with only 20% who are not, and half (50%) say that their ability to work effectively has been negatively affected by the pandemic. In addition, 70% of black women business owners reported a negative impact on their businesses, with the majority attributing the impact to no or low sales, supply chain disruptions, and an inability to cover expenses. Most black women (88%) believe that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to an economic recession.

In its entirety, the report explores the social, emotional, and financial impact the new normals are having on black women.

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:
  • The CDC is the most trusted source of information (57%) for Black women when it comes to the pandemic (followed by news channels at 42%). However, Black women currently use news channels most (69%) to gather information, followed by news websites (43%), the CDC website (32%) and then state government websites and social media (both 31%). Still, state government websites are trusted by 33%, whereas social media – though used as much – is only trusted by 8%.
  • Black women view Dr. Anthony Fauci (66%) as the most trusted leader/expert when it comes to information on the pandemic, followed by state governors (46%) and city mayors (30%), while President Donald Trump is the least trusted (1%).
  • The majority of Black women were already planning to vote in the upcoming presidential (63%) and state (62%) elections, and the COVID-19 crisis does not impact their plan to vote. However, almost 30% say they understand the power of their vote more today than ever and are more likely to vote in the upcoming elections (27% in presidential; 29% in state).
  • Moving forward, Black women are more likely to patronize small/local businesses and businesses that treated their employees well with increased pay and safety measures during the pandemic, while they are less likely to patronize businesses that did not practice social distancing, participated in price gouging, and defied shelter-in regulations.

To read more findings from the study, click here.