Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2015

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they have presented their findings at con- ferences and venues to promote economic development and equitable access to capi- tal by minority entrepreneurs, especially in urban markets. Their research has also been covered by several prominent national media outlets, including the Washington Post, Busi- nessweek, and Fox Business. Efforts to reach policy makers are already paying off, with their work being presented this past summer at the Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project and City of Newark Economic Summit, cochaired by Reverend Jesse Jack- son and Ras Baraka, mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Yet even with the progress they've made, Christensen, Bone, and Williams know that if their message doesn't lead to policy change, any efforts to eliminate prejudice may be wasted. "While racial and ethnic minorities have made significant progress in terms of race relations over the past several decades, the harsh reality is that there still are remnants of discrimination in society," Williams says. "It is appropriate to continue asking the question, 'Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?' in terms of progress being made in eradicating discrimination in the marketplace." If lenders continue to remain insensitive to racial and ethnic minority consumers, they run the risk of alienating these segments. And, in addition to propelling discrimina- tion forward in the marketplace, they open themselves to suffering severe economic consequences, such as tarnished brand image. Ultimately, the researchers say, every per- son—regardless of race or ethnicity—should have the same chance to pursue their ambi- tions. But unless that access becomes truly universal, the American Dream will remain hollow. About the Author Todd Hollingshead is a media-relations man- ager for University Communications at BYU. He graduated from the university in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in communications and has since added a master's degree in the same field. Hollingshead has written for several publications, including the Deseret News, Daily Herald, and Salt Lake Tribune. He joined University Com- munications in 2007 and teaches in the BYU School of Communications as an adjunct faculty. self-esteem and to their sense of autonomy and control, but their white counterparts didn't experience such feelings. Minori- ties assumed race played into the decision, though, in this experiment, that wasn't the case. Those who were not asked to report their race did not suffer decreased self- esteem, regardless of race. "Since modern discrimination is rarely obvious, the minority consumer is always left with the lingering question: 'Am I being denied because I am unqualified or because of my race?'" Bone says. "Since there is no way to answer this question for certain, minorities are forced to interpret denial through a lens white people simply do not encounter." Next Step Though their study was published last year in the Journal of Consumer Research, Bone, Christensen, and Williams say the work is just beginning. None of them is satisfied with simply pin- pointing an area of society where remnants of discrimination are still at play. They want to see a marketplace in which access is not restricted to anyone. Williams explains, "As scholars, if we just write this work and it doesn't move the nee- dle, it doesn't do any good." To move that needle, the team believes there are three key groups who can take action to bring about positive change: 1. Consumers and entrepreneurs, so they understand the challenge and better pre- pare to face it 2. Legislators and policy makers, so they can be aware of and address the disparities 3. Bankers, so they can adjust their practices to be less discriminatory Of those three, reaching the ears of public- policy makers is the most critical. There are certain laws in place that can be detrimental to enforcing discrimination issues, so the researchers are eager to make a dent in the policy arena. They've already put in a fair share of work. To date, the researchers have testified before congressional committees, penned opinion pieces for major media outlets, and appeared on national talk shows. In addition, Next Step About the Author 26 MARRIOTT

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