[Washington, D.C., January 17, 2024] – In the wake of recent developments challenging the progress made in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion for Black and minority-owned businesses, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) stands at the forefront, of advocating for the rights and opportunities that are essential for the growth and success of these businesses.
A pivotal moment in this struggle is the United States District Court ruling in Ultima Servs. Corp. v. Dep’t of Ag., which has significant implications for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program. This ruling has raised concerns about the program’s determination of social disadvantage, potentially hindering the support provided to Black and minority entrepreneurs. Due to the ruling, the SBA temporarily paused new 8 (a) applications and began requiring businesses in the program that relied on the rebuttable presumption to prove social disadvantage in a narrative detailing past discrimination before they could accept new contract awards. This unfair ruling adds an increased burden of proof, potential delay in contract awards, disruption of program access, impact on economic empowerment, and potential for inequitable outcomes.
Furthermore, in recent headlines, the quiet sunset of Goldman Sachs’ diversity investment program after fulfilling its $1 billion pledge to fund companies led by women and People of Color, adds another layer to the challenges facing our businesses striving for inclusivity.
Ron Busby Sr., President & CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., expressed deep concern about these developments, stating, “These attacks on affirmative action directly impact the progress we’ve made in creating equitable opportunities and solutions for Black and minority-owned business owners. The SBA ruling and the closure of Launch With GS are setbacks that we cannot afford.”
The 8(a) Business Development Program is a vital lifeline for many Black entrepreneurs, offering resources, mentorship, and opportunities to access federal contracts. The recent ruling spotlights the need for comprehensive reviews of programs supporting minority businesses, ensuring that they are not inadvertently undermined.
Goldman Sachs’ decision to shutter its DEI investment, while meeting its financial commitment, raises questions about the sustainability of corporate commitments to diversity and inclusion. The USBC urges corporations to not only fulfill financial pledges but also to actively engage in long-term initiatives that foster a culture of inclusivity.
Busby added, “We call upon policymakers, corporations, and the public to recognize the importance of affirmative action in leveling the playing field. Our fight for economic empowerment and inclusion continues, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a thriving environment for Black and minority-owned businesses.”
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. remains dedicated to addressing these challenges head-on, advocating for policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and providing unwavering support for the growth and success of Black entrepreneurs.