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Portfolio > Portfolio Construction > ESG

New Index Rates Companies on Racial Justice Criteria

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What You Need to Know

  • The Black Dollar Index is intended to help consumers hold corporations accountable.
  • Companies are rated on multiple factors including their percentage of Black leaders and managers.
  • Ratings for financial firms run the gamut from low-scoring private equity firms to high-scoring banking institutions.

A former marketing manager at TruTV, Vice Media and ABC News has developed the Black Dollar Index (BDI), a platform that rates publicly traded companies according to their contributions to racial justice or injustice.

The idea is to inform Black consumers, who spend about $1.4 trillion on consumer goods annually, about corporate practices so that they can hold companies accountable.

“The Black Dollar Index is an accountability tool that we can build upon for generations to come,” said Kelle Rozell, BDI Founder, in a statement. “Our goal is to work hand-in-hand with these corporations to make real, infrastructural change because as Americans, we want racial justice and as consumers we want options.”

The Impetus Behind the BDI Rating Platform

The index grew out of protests in 2020 following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others, which spurred many corporations to pledge their support for social justice efforts. “It became imperative to create a platform for consumers to hold corporations accountable and seek transparency on these commitments moving forward,” according to BDI.

The BDI Scoring System

The BDI index rates companies on a scale of 1 to 100 according to five quantitative factors, which contribute a total 80% to their scores, and four qualitative factors, which contribute the remaining 20%. A company that scores under 70 is deemed “not yet approved.” A score between 71 and 80 is “fair,” between 80 and 90 “good,” and from 91 to 100, “great.”

The quantitative factors behind these ratings are the percentage of directors and other company leaders who are Black as well as the share of employees who are Black compared with the broader U.S. population. Companies are also rated on whether they have a Black CEO or not.

The qualitative factors are diversity and inclusion initiatives at a company and at its suppliers as well as known negative racial claims made against a company and significant investments in Black initiatives — both made over the past five years.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, said the index is “important work that sits at the intersection of racial and economic justice … [and] will provide the necessary information to allow us to be better change agents for racial equity.”

How Financial Firms Scored

According to the BDI website, the ratings of financial firms run the gamut from near-bottom ratings for private equity firms like KKR, Blackstone and the Carlyle Group to relatively high ratings for financial giants like American Express, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — all scoring above 70. In between were Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — scoring in the 40s — and JPMorgan and Citigroup, scoring in the 60s.

Pictured: Protesters after the killing of George Floyd. (Photo Shutterstock)


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