5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: August 25

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience.

1. Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Could Favor High-Income Americans

President Joe Biden announced his Student Debt Relief plan on Wednesday, which will cancel $10,000 of student debt for those with an annual income of less than $125,000 and cancel $20,000 for those who qualified for federal Pell grants, which are given to help low-income undergraduates attend school.

While 32% of all borrowers could see their student debt wiped out by this plan and will eliminate half of federal student loan debt held by 20.5% of borrowers who owe between $10,000 and $20,000 on their student loans, the plan could favor high-income Americans.

According to an analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model, which looks at a $10,000 blanket relief program, despite the $125,000 income gap, between 69% and 73% of the debt forgiven would go to Americans in the top 60% of income distribution.

This could be the case because higher-income Americans tend to have the most student debt. The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances in 2019 showed that the top 10% of Americans hold 17.4% of all student debt compared to the bottom 20% of earners holding 13.8%.

2. Lawsuit Against Private Equity Firm Alleges Sexism, Anti-Asian Discrimination

Former Portfolio Advisors employee Michelle Lee is suing the company on the ground of being discriminated against because of race, religion, sex and national origin. She also alleges that she was retaliated against after reporting the harassment.

Lee said she worked at the Connecticut private equity fund for nearly 15 years, during which she alleges in the suit that she faced racist comments and sexual remarks and advances from coworkers. Her supervisor knew about some of these instances and did not remedy the situation.

In a statement, Lee said it isn’t right that a different standard applies to Asian American women and that what she faced at work made her “feel excluded and less than others.”

“For many years, I blamed myself, questioned my worth and lived with real psychological pain. I don’t want these types of experiences to keep happening to Asian American women,” she said.

3. DeSantis Bans Florida’s Pension Funds from Considering ESG Standards

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned pension funds in the state from looking into environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards when making investments for retirees.

DeSantis made the decision in conjunction with the State Board of Administration with the directive for fund managers to invest in state resources that have a high return on investment. He described ESG standards as having an “ideological agenda,” which is in line with comments he’s made about businesses participating in “woke” politics.

In a statement, DeSantis said: “Corporate power has increasingly been utilized to impose an ideological agenda on the American people through the perversion of financial investment priorities under the euphemistic banners of environmental, social, and corporate governance and diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

4. Law Firms With the Highest Representation of Women in Equity Partnerships

Law firms are far from closing the gender gap, but some have done a good job of promoting women to leadership roles.

According to Law 360 Pulse’s Glass Ceiling report, there are 10 law firms that have a high representation of women in their equity partnerships. The larger firms that are improving opportunities for women in the law field report that women account for over 30% of their equity partners.

Those firms are:

  1. Littler
  2. Jackson Lewis
  3. Morrison Foerster
  4. Jones Day
  5. Davis Wright Tremaine
  6. Ropes & Gray
  7. Orrick
  8. Ballard Spahr
  9. Cooley
  10. Covington

While these firms have more women in leadership than others, the report shows that “while nearly 40% of all attorneys at law firms are women, less than a quarter of equity partners are women.” This statistic hasn’t changed from last year’s report.

5. Molson Coors Donates $1.5 Million to BIPOC Organizations

Beverage company Molson Coors announced that it has donated $1.5 million to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) organizations focused on community building, equity, justice and empowerment as part of its Project Justice initiative.

Project Justice was formed in 2020 after the protests and civil unrest that took place in the U.S. Molson Coors has invested $4.5 million in non-profits and community organizations through the project.