Racial justice demands economic justice

Kristen Anderson
4 min readJun 14, 2020


In the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and dozens of other black men and women at the hands of police, we’ve been left asking critical questions about how, as a society (and specifically as white and privileged members of that society), we can do better. How do we provide justice? How do we crush racism? How do we perpetuate a society of equality — not by means of performative gestures, but through true equal access and equal treatment under the law and in our culture?

As CEO, my job is to answer those questions not just for myself, but for the organization I am so fortunate to represent. What are we doing? What could we be doing better? How are we best focusing our energy and our talents to make the biggest impact possible?

In truth, these are difficult conversations when you look inward. We have to look at our failings and see them for what they are: legacies of a racist system, personal biases, and acceptance of unfair cultural stereotypes. In January, I mandated that our leadership team take anti-racism training. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t completely eliminate our bias or racially imbalanced structures. But we are taking steps. And we are going to continue taking steps. We’ll be expanding the training, requiring that leadership roles interview at least one black candidate, and promoting community building and volunteer work with local organizations (including the local chapter of Black Girls Code) where I and members of our team have already been donating our time.

Externally, our mission has never been more salient. The financial safety net is a cornerstone of the American Dream, from our earliest days as a nation. While Thomas Jefferson may have altered Locke’s concept of “life, liberty, and property,” most agree that the “pursuit of happiness” is inclusive of the pursuit of financial stability and wealth.

As in so many other areas, that pursuit has been stolen from black people.

The net worth of an average white family in the U.S. is 10x that of an average black family ($171,000 vs. $17,000). If you liquidated all assets, almost a quarter of black households would have less than $5. Only 1 in 3 black people are contributing to a 401(K)-style retirement plan, compared to half of whites. Black workers are also 50% more likely to be doing unstable gig work.

From explicitly racist policies like redlining, to the poorly regulated predatory financial products that are disproportionately found in black communities, it’s clear that building wealth comes with extraordinary obstacles when you’re black. Wealthsimple has put together a thoughtful piece that goes deeper into the racial factors that drive wealth disparity including mortgage lending practices, student debt, and the GI Bill.

All of this was true before a once-in-a-century global pandemic. Compound pre-existing economic conditions of an almost insurmountable wealth gap with the fact that black people are less likely to be allowed to telecommute and work remotely, are more likely to be paid hourly making poverty wages, and are more likely to be working in industries hit hard by the shutdowns: travel accommodations, restaurants and food service, dry cleaning, etc. Black people have once again been inordinately harmed.

Our mission at Catch has always been to build a safety net that is affordable, accessible, and effective. For everyone — no matter how you earn a living, and it is now important to make clear: no matter the color of your skin.

We’ve made a number of decisions in our product and go to market strategy that we hope will help address some of these challenges:

  • We don’t charge fees for our savings products: no overdraft, no transaction fees, no monthly minimums, no processing or administrative fees. Since black people are already paying higher bank fees, we hope this is one way to make saving money easier.
  • We offer affordable long-term investment plans: our retirement products only cost 0.5% of assets under management annually. We don’t charge account maintenance fees or other hidden fees that can hinder asset growth in the long run.
  • We provide high quality health insurance plans: the Affordable Care Act lowered the black uninsured rate by 3%, and we only offer plans that are ACA compliant and cover the minimum Essential Health Benefits as outlined by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • We design and build mobile-first: finance apps that depend on a laptop or desktop can be difficult to use an inaccessible. Black people are more likely to rely on a mobile phone for connection to internet services.
  • We focus on gig and independent workers: we’ve given savings boosts to delivery drivers and other gig workers who don’t have access to employer sponsored benefits.

Beyond these specific choices, our entire platform has been built to automate savings and investment for those who have volatile and unstable income. We’ve made it easier to get health insurance and government tax credits. We’re working on bringing in additional partners who offer products that make it easy to build wealth and a stable future.

Economic justice is the core of our mission, and our goal is to use our position of privilege and power to ensure that economic justice enables racial justice. We challenge all FinTech and financial services companies to do the same.

Finally, we are listening. If there are things we can do to better support black communities, we’d like to hear about it. We can always do better. It’s not in our nature to run away from solving hard problems.



Kristen Anderson

Founder and CEO @ Catch. Tech can save financial services and business can be a force for good. World traveler. Red wine connoisseur. @CatchBenefits