John W. Rogers Jr. is chairman, co-CEO and chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, the country’s oldest Black-owned asset management firm. Throughout his career, Rogers has worked tirelessly to close the widening racial wealth gap in America through programs, education and investment vehicles that empower minority entrepreneurs. He recently joined Katherine Klein, vice dean for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, for an episode of the Dollars and Change podcast to talk about the historic factors that created the racial wealth gap and the systemic barriers that sustain it.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Katherine Klein: What is the racial wealth gap?

John Rogers: At Ariel, we are focused on closing the wealth gap between African Americans and white Americans. It’s something that we have been interested in for a long, long time. We first started with doing surveys with Charles Schwab & Associates, trying to determine whether Black Americans had as much saved in their 401(k) plans for retirement as white Americans. We came back with data that often showed that Black Americans had half as much saved for retirement as white Americans of the same education level and job description.

As the years have gone on, we have become accustomed to more and more data. Ray Boshara from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has the best data. One of my favorite anecdotes [from him] is that, between 1992 and 2016, college-educated Blacks saw their wealth decline 10%, while college-educated whites saw their wealth increase 96%. It’s just brutal.

Kerwin Charles, dean of the Yale School of Management, has data that shows that the wealth divide was getting better between 1940 and 1970. But since 1970, we’ve been on a steady decline, and it just gets worse and worse to the point now that, relative to white Americans, African Americans are worse off than our grandparents were. This wealth gap is a big, big deal in our country. We’re losing a lot of GDP growth and economic wealth creation for the entire country because we’re not fully [including] all of our citizens in our capitalist democracy.

Read the full article about closing the racial wealth gap at Knowledge @ Wharton.