Hide & Seek: Why Some Companies Hide Being Black or Woman Owned: Madamenoire Feature

Some Black business owners are in hiding.

It may seem like an odd thing to do when people are calling on one another to support Black businesses left and right, but some owners feel they will be more successful if their customers don’t know they are Black and that the company they patronize is Black owned. And there is some evidence that theory might be true. A 2014 Nielsen report on African-American buying habits found that 55 percent of Blacks with household incomes of at least $50,000 said they would buy or support a product if it was sold or supported by a person of color or minority-owned business. But only 20 percent of non-African Americans in the same income bracket would do the same.
So it’s no wonder some people want to hide their ownership. For if there race was known, Black business owners just might lose customers. That’s what a few entrepreneurs recently told the Chicago Tribune. While most of the owners interviewed for the article on downplaying ownership hide their position by excluding their photos from the company website and marketing materials, others go further. “Others give the impression that their white employees actually own the operations,” the newspaper reported.

Hiding your ownership can open you up to a broader market, though, some experts say. “If the ownership of your business is not advertised, there is less of a chance of you being discriminated against by consumers who want your product or service but otherwise would be biased against you,” brand expert Aniesia Williams told us. Hiding ownership may also help women-owned companies survive in male-dominated industries.

“It’s unnecessary to hide whether your company is Black-owned–or Hispanic-owned or Asian-owned–when you’re looking to reach a general audience because it’s the product that your company is offering that the audience will respond to. If you are successfully providing a general audience with a product or service that they seek out and consume regularly, then the race or ethnicity of the company’s owner shouldn’t matter,” Williams said.


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