7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like

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Ally at work

Diverse and inclusive workplaces can be both difficult to find and hard to create. But if you care about making your own workplace truly inclusive, you have the ability to effect real change—as an ally.

An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group but who takes action to support that group.

It’s up to people who hold positions of privilege to be active allies to those with less access, and to take responsibility for making changes that will help others be successful. Active allies utilize their credibility to create a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, and find ways to make their privilege work for others.

And wielding privilege as an ally doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve seen allies at all levels take action with simple, everyday efforts that made a difference—often a big one!

Here are a few roles that allies can choose to play to support colleagues from underrepresented groups in beneficial ways.

1. The Sponsor

I once worked for a software company that was acquired by a larger company. In the first few months following the acquisition, I noticed something interesting. My new manager, Digby Horner—who had been at the larger company for many years—said things in meetings along the lines of: “What I learned from Karen is the following…”

By doing this, Digby helped me build credibility with my new colleagues. He took action as an ally, using his position of privilege to sponsor me. His shoutouts made a difference, and definitely made me feel great.

When an ally takes on the role of the Sponsor, they vocally support the work of colleagues from underrepresented groups in all contexts, but specifically in situations that will help boost those colleagues’ standing and reputations.

How to Act as a Sponsor

  • Talk about the expertise you see in others, especially during performance calibrations and promotion discussions.
  • Recommend people for stretch assignments and learning opportunities.
  • Share colleagues’ career goals with influencers.

2. The Champion

In May 2015, Andrew Grill was a Global Managing Partner at IBM and a speaker at the Online Influence Conference. He was on a panel along with five other men when a female member of the audience posed the obvious question to the all-male lineup: “Where are the women?”

The moderator then asked the panelists to address the topic of gender diversity, and Andrew, after sharing some of his thoughts, quickly realized he wasn’t the best person to respond. In fact, none of the panelists were. He instead asked the woman who asked the question, Miranda Bishop, to take his place on the panel. By stepping aside, Andrew made a bold statement in support of gender diversity on stage and championed Miranda at the same time.

Since then, the nonprofit organization GenderAvenger has created a pledge to reduce the frequency of all-male panels at conferences and events. It reads, “I will not serve as a panelist at a public conference when there are no women on the panel.” Anyone can sign the pledge on their website.

When an ally takes on the role of the Champion, that ally acts similarly to the Sponsor, but does so in more public venues. Champions willingly defer to colleagues from underrepresented groups in meetings and in visible, industry-wide events and conferences, sending meaningful messages to large audiences.

How to Act as a Champion

  • Direct questions about specific or technical topics to employees with subject-matter expertise instead of answering them yourself.
  • Advocate for more women, people of color, and members of other underrepresented groups as keynote speakers and panelists.
  • If you’re asked to keynote or serve in a similar public role and know someone from an underrepresented group who’d be an equally good fit (or better), recommend that person (after asking them first if they’d like to be put forward).

3. The Amplifier

In a Slack channel for female technical leaders, I met a data engineer who was working at a 60-person startup. One team inside the company had an unproductive meeting culture that was starting to feel truly toxic. Yelling and interrupting frequently took place, and women in particular felt they couldn’t voice their opinions without being shouted over.

One of this engineer’s colleagues decided to take action to ensure that the voices of those who weren’t shouting would be heard. She introduced communication guidelines for a weekly meeting, and saw an immediate improvement. The guidelines included assigning a meeting mediator (team members would take turns in this role), setting clear objectives and an agenda for every meeting, conducting a meeting evaluation by every participant at the end of every meeting, and reminding the members to be respectful and practice active listening.

When an ally takes on the role of the Amplifier, that ally works to ensure that marginalized voices are both heard and respected. This type of allyship can take many forms, but is focused on representation within communication.

How to Act as an Amplifier

  • When someone proposes a good idea, repeat it and give them credit. For example: “I agree with Helen’s recommendation for improving our net promoter score.”
  • Create a code of conduct for meetings and any shared communication medium including email, chat, Slack, and so forth.
  • Invite members of underrepresented groups within your company to speak at staff meetings, write for company-wide newsletters, or take on other highly visible roles.

4. The Advocate

Shortly after she became the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki spoke up about how tech industry titan Bill Campbell had advocated for her. In an article for Vanity Fair, she wrote:

I learned about an important invitation-only conference convening most of the top leaders in tech and media, yet my name was left off the guest list. Many of the invitees were my peers, meaning that YouTube wouldn’t be represented while deals were cut and plans were made. I started to question whether I even belonged at the conference. But rather than let it go, I turned to Bill, someone I knew had a lot of influence and could help fix the situation. He immediately recognized I had a rightful place at the event and within a day he worked his magic and I received my invitation.

When an ally takes on the role of the Advocate, that ally uses their power and influence to bring peers from underrepresented groups into highly exclusive circles. The Advocate recognizes and addresses unjust omissions, holding their peers accountable for including qualified colleagues of all genders, races and ethnicities, abilities, ages, body shapes or sizes, religions, and sexual orientations.

How to Act as an Advocate

  • Look closely at the invite list for events, strategic planning meetings, dinners with key partners, and other career-building opportunities. If you see someone from a marginalized group missing, advocate for them to be invited.
  • Offer to introduce colleagues from underrepresented groups to influential people in your network.
  • Ask someone from an underrepresented group to be a co-author or collaborator on a proposal or conference submission.

5. The Scholar

I’m a member of the Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley, a nonprofit leadership incubator for women. Many of our events are open to guests, who come to hear the speakers and participate in our workshops. Most guests are women, so it stood out when a male guest started attending our events. I asked one of my friends who he was, and she told me he was a former colleague who wanted to better understand the challenges women face in the workplace. He spent many evenings at our events, listening and absorbing information about the issues we discussed so he could be a better ally.

When an ally takes on the role of the Scholar, that ally seeks to learn as much as possible about the challenges and prejudices faced by colleagues from marginalized groups. It’s important to note that Scholars never insert their own opinions, experiences, or ideas, but instead simply listen and learn. They also don’t expect marginalized people to provide links to research proving that bias exists or summaries of best practices. Scholars do their own research to seek out the relevant information.

How to Act as a Scholar

  • Investigate and read publications, podcasts, or social media by and about underrepresented groups within your industry.
  • Ask co-workers from marginalized groups about their experience working at your company.
  • If your company or industry has specific discussion groups or Slack channels for members of underrepresented groups, ask if they’d be comfortable letting you sit in to observe. Asking is essential: Your presence may cause members to censor themselves, so be sure to check in before showing up.

6. The Upstander

I remember being impressed by Lisa, a white software engineer who stepped outside of her comfort zone to be an ally. When asked to name her “spirit animal” as part of a team-building exercise, Lisa spoke up. She wasn’t comfortable taking part in an exercise that appropriated Native American spiritual traditions.

When an ally takes on the role of the Upstander, that ally acts as the opposite of a bystander. The Upstander is someone who sees wrongdoing and acts to combat it. This person pushes back on offensive comments or jokes, even if no one within earshot might be offended or hurt.

How to Act as an Upstander

  • Always speak up if you witness behavior or speech that is degrading or offensive. Explain your stance so everyone is clear about why you’re raising the issue.
  • In meetings, shut down off-topic questions that are asked only to test the presenter.
  • Take action if you see anyone in your company being bullied or harassed. Simply insert yourself into a conversation with a comment such as, “Hi! What are you folks discussing?” and then check in with the victim privately. Ask if they’re okay and if they want you to say something.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

How Hip-Hop Superstar Travis Scott Has Become Corporate America’s Brand Whisperer

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Travis Scott Forbes Fortnite Concert

Three years ago, Scott made the 30 Under 30 based on his music credentials. Now he’s helping major companies rethink their brands—and changing how celebrities and corporations interact.

The afternoon after Election Day, Travis Scott pilots his Lamborghini SUV, a rolling hotbox, down Melrose Avenue, the thudding beats of his friend, fellow rapper Don Toliver, keeping him awake and aware.

 

Image Credit Travis Scott Fortnite by EPIC GAMES | Forbes

Like the rest of America, he’s been following the vote totals (“Looks like Biden, right?”), and political discord seems everywhere, his Los Angeles streetscape largely boarded up. Hip-hop’s lyrical currency is a metaphor, and Scott can’t help but notice the sight. “They’ve got to have understanding,” he says of those anticipating civil unrest that never came. “It’s bigger than these stores.”

Arriving at a recording studio, Scott seeks to clear his mind before getting to work. He grabs a basketball to avail himself of the hoop in the parking lot, sparks yet another blunt (a regular activity for him), and eventually pulls out a glass beer bottle filled with a clear liquid.

“Tell me what you think,” he says, handing it over. According to the plain white label affixed to the bottle, it’s a preliminary batch of Cacti, a forthcoming—and until now, top-secret—hard seltzer he’s been working on with AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer. This one’s purportedly strawberry; it tastes generally crisp and fruity. “We’ve got other flavors,” Scott says. “Like lime. I was actually just trying it. I kinda like it.”

Continue to the Forbes to read the full article.

These Are The Most At-Risk Jobs Post-Pandemic

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Career fair attendees walking to event

While many jobs were put on hold during the pandemic, there are a few that may not come back—ever.

Glassdoor’s Workplace Trends 2021 report finds that job postings for discretionary health services—or those that are elective and can be postponed during a pandemic—are down dramatically. The most at-risk job is that of audiologist, for which job listings on Glassdoor declined 70% during the pandemic.

Angela Shoup, president of the American Academy of Audiology, says she’s heard reports of audiologists being placed on long furloughs, as well as some who’ve closed their private practices and retired early this year. Many recent graduates looking for jobs in audiology have been told that larger practices are not hiring, she says.

Job postings for opticians and physical therapists saw a similar fate, down 61% and 40%, respectively. There’s also been a shortage of administrative and lower-skilled office roles. Jobs for event coordinators are down 69%, making it the second most at-risk job post-pandemic. Similarly, openings for executive assistants are down 55%, human resources generalists are down 37% and receptionists are down 35%, as most offices have been closed.

Unsurprisingly, positions for personal services workers have also plummeted. Beauty consultants took the hardest hit, with jobs down 53%. Jobs for valets were down 51%.

“[These are jobs] where Covid-19 is in the driver’s seat,” says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist. “People are not going to return to their nail salons or get discretionary LASIK eye surgeries or go to in-person events until the virus is under control.”

Discretionary healthcare, event and personal-service jobs won’t disappear altogether after the pandemic, but they will certainly be slow to come back, he says. However, he thinks it’s possible some jobs may be lost forever.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Said Yes to the Following Questions? – You’re more successful than you think

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Confident Businessman. Happy african guy smiling at camera working at office. Panorama, free space

By Jeff Haden

Sometimes comparisons can be useful, but where your sense of satisfaction and fulfillment are concerned, they’re definitely not.

Like if you constantly you compare yourself to other people. Do that and it’s easy to feel unsuccessful. If you’re an entrepreneur and you compare yourself to Richard Branson, you won’t win. If you’re a musician and you compare yourself to Taylor Swift (especially if the point of comparison is earnings), you won’t win. If your goal is to change the world and you compare yourself to Steve…

That’s the problem with comparisons. No matter how successful you feel, there is always someone who seems more successful. There is always someone better, or smarter, or wealthier, or (seemingly) happier.

So, stop comparing. Just focus on you. Then look for these signs that show you’re more successful than you might think – and, in all likelihood, that you’re happier than you think, too.

  1. “Do I have close friends?”

Close friendships are increasingly rare; one study found that the number of friends who respondents felt they could discuss important matters with has dropped from an average of 2.94 to 2.08 in the last 20 years.

If you have more than two or three close friends, be glad, not only for the social connection but also because the positive effect of relationships on your life span is double what you get from exercising and just as powerful as quitting smoking.

And where professional relationships are concerned…

  1. “Can I choose the people around me?”

Some people have employees who drive them nuts. Some people have customers who are obnoxious. Some people have casual acquaintances who are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

Guess what: They chose those people. Those people are in their professional or personal lives because they let them remain.

Successful people attract successful people. Hardworking people attract hardworking people. Kind people associate with kind people. Great employees want to work for great bosses.

If the people around you are the people you want to be around you, you’re successful.

And if they’re not, it’s time to start making some changes.

  1. “Do I have enough money to make positive choices?”

Many people live paycheck to paycheck. Worse, many have to decide between necessities. (I can remember having to choose between filling a prescription for an antibiotic and putting gas in my car.)

If you make enough money, and don’t spend so much money, that you can make positive choices about what to do with some of it – whether it’s investing, or taking a vacation, or taking classes… anything you want to do instead of have to do – then you’re successful, both because you’ve escaped the paycheck-to-paycheck grind and because you can leverage that extra money to become even more successful.

  1. “Do I see failure as just training?”

Failure sucks, but failure is also the best way to learn and grow. There will always be trials, challenges, and obstacles – but perseverance always wins in the end.

Every successful person has failed, numerous times. (Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re so successful now.)

If you embrace every failure – if you own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time things will turn out differently – then you’re already successful.

And in time, you’ll be even more successful, because you’ll never stop trying to be better than you are today.

  1. “Am I a giver?”

We’ve all experienced this moment: We’re having a great conversation, we’re finding things in common…and then, boom: The other person plays the “I need something” card.

And everything about the interaction changes.

What once appeared friendly now feels needy, almost grasping…and, if you’re like me, you feel guilty if you can’t help. (And especially if you decide you don’t want to help.)

As my buddy Adam Grant shows, people tend to fall into rough categories: Some takers, some are matchers, and some are givers.

And it should come as no surprise that people who feel successful tend to not be takers. They accept help if offered, but they don’t feel the need to ask. In fact, they focus on what they can do for other people.

  1. “Do I put other people in the spotlight?”

OK, maybe you did do all the work. Maybe you did move mountains. Maybe you did kick ass and take names.

If you aren’t looking for praise or accolades, that means you’re successful. That means you feel proud on the inside, where it counts. That means your happiness comes from the success of others. You don’t need the glory; you know what you’ve achieved.

If you enjoy the validation of others but don’t need the validation of others, you’re successful.

  1. “Do I feel a real sense of purpose?”

Successful people have a purpose. As a result, they’re excited, dedicated, passionate, and fearless.

And they share their passions with others.

If you’re found a purpose – if you’ve found something that inspires you, fuels you, makes you excited to get up, get out, and achieve – then you’re successful, regardless of how much money you make or what other people think.

Why?

Because you’re living life your way – and that’s the best sign of success there is.

Jeff Haden is a speaker, Inc. Magazine contributing editor, author of THE MOTIVATION MYTH, and ghostwriter.

The New Interview: How to Hire the Best Candidate in Our New Normal

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black businessman working from home during pandemic on laptop wearing a suit smiling

By Vicki Chabot & Abbey Szentes, netlogx

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned business operations upside down, but as businesses work toward a new normal and hire new staff, virtual interviews have become standard.

Gauging how an interviewee will fit into an organization’s workplace culture without sitting across from one another in-person can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

When we’re not meeting people in-person, we miss cues that are necessary to fully comprehend communication. Research consistently shows candidates who align with an organization’s culture and values are critical for successful, strategic hiring.

Here are some of the best ways to foster a connection with candidates and how to weigh a candidate’s potential — both in work experience and their ability to align with organizational culture:

Create a Plan for Virtual Interviews

As policies and procedures change throughout the pandemic, make sure everyone is on the same page about how interviews will be conducted and what software will be used. There are many free options available like Google Meet or UberConference that are easy to use and don’t require added investments.

To minimize technical difficulties, choose a preferred software and practice using it. Perform test runs 10–15 minutes before a scheduled interview to make sure the microphone is operable, screen share options are easily accessible, and there is a strong web connection available. Ensure all candidates know what the interview process looks like and what they can expect throughout the interview. Create an agenda that can be shared with candidates and other team members and be clear about the organization’s expectations for the role. If candidates are showcasing some of their work, ask for the work ahead of time in case there are poor connections. Not everyone will have the same internet bandwidth, and it’s crucial to plan for that ahead of time.

Start with a Preliminary Phone Interview

Hiring managers and recruiters receive hundreds of applications when hiring for a new position. Conducting preliminary phone interviews with candidates who have the desired set of skills and work experience can help organize the pool of candidates and prevent lost time for those who aren’t a fit at all. It is common during in-person interviews to develop rapport with candidates, but in a completely virtual world those connections are more important than ever before. While a phone call is great for screening candidates, video conferencing should be used for any other interviews. Hiring managers should ask more questions so they can get to know candidates on a personal level.

Ask Personal and Professional Questions

A virtual interview should be treated the same as those that take place in-person, but there are benefits to meeting candidates virtually. Remind hiring managers and team members to be a bit more compassionate than they would normally be when sitting across the table from a candidate. Life frequently gets in the way with barking dogs, a phone ringing, or spouses, partners and children all working and playing under the same roof. These are perfect opportunities to learn more about candidates and their day-to-day lives as opposed to only pointed questions about work skills. Yes, those questions are important, too, but in a virtual environment, there is much that can be learned about a candidate’s lifestyle and ability to handle distractions. Take notes and ask questions about the person’s hobbies, interests, and volunteer work.

Create a Process to Gather Feedback From Candidates

It’s commonplace for potential candidates to send thank you notes after an interview, but it is helpful for interviewers to do the same as they adapt to remote-only interviews. Thank the candidate for being flexible and adaptable, and ask for feedback about the process. How did candidates feel it went? Are there things that could be improved or adjusted? These questions help hiring managers and teams to refine the interview process for future candidates and provide a glimpse of how a new hire would handle communicating information internally.

Use Work Style and Personality Assessments

If hiring managers want to know how candidates will perform and communicate, a business management assessment tool, such as the Taylor Protocols Core Values Index™ (CVI) or Myers Briggs Personality Assessment, are fantastic ways to understand an interviewee on a deeper level. Too often, employees are tasked with roles and responsibilities that can make them feel like a round peg forced into a square hole. This is something a hiring manager wants to identify before training and onboarding a new hire. As a last step, these kinds of assessments can help one candidate stand out more than another and help solidify your choice to hire them.

Business leaders should anticipate changes for interviewing practices and as the pandemic continues, remote interviewing remains the best and most viable way to understand a candidate’s potential as a new hire for the organization. Having a standardized process in place for virtual interviews and establishing a cadence of questions that demonstrate candidates’ ability to react in the moment gives hiring managers and recruiters better insight. The final step should always be a short work and personality assessment, so leaders can determine the most productive place for candidates or if different candidates may be better suited for the position at hand.

How to Talk About Race with Employees

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Collage image of many diverse business people

This article is not entitled “How to Talk About Race TO Employees.” It’s never a voice from on high disseminating information. Like anything important, it’s a two-way conversation; you have to say something, and you have to listen.

But it can be daunting to broach any sensitive subject in the workplace. This article is a jumping off point, including some steps leaders can take, plus a framework for providing smart, thoughtful internal communication to their employees around the subject of race and racism in the workplace.

The recent incidents affecting Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper and George Floyd make the subject of race impossible to ignore. And while these acts of racism and violence did not happen in the workplace, it’s a reminder that racism still happens in the workplace, too. In spite of employers increasing investment in diversity and inclusion, a Glassdoor survey reveals that 61 percent, or about three in five U.S. employees have witnessed or experienced discrimination based on age, race, gender or LGBTQ identity in the workplace. The 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Study was conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 1,100 U.S. employees and revealed the prevalence of discrimination at work. Forty-two percent of employed adults in the U.S. have experienced or witnessed racism in the workplace; the highest percentage of the four countries surveyed.

Given that discrimination and racism still happen in the workplace, here are some tips to consider to be a great ally to combat racism.

Set an example. Demonstrate your support and solidarity by speaking up and acting up when you hear insensitive, derogatory remarks or when you see racist, bigoted behavior. Acting ethically and in a morally sound fashion includes a responsibility to speak up and act up when we see injustice.

  • Make connections. Reach out to your black friends and colleagues. Show them that you are aware of what’s going on.
  • Listen more, talk less. You don’t have to say something all the time or post something on social media to prove how aware you are about these issues.
  • Be informed. Remember that being an ally requires you to educate yourself about the experiences of others differently situated. Try following people of color on social media to learn about their perspectives and experiences.

Here are some things you may want to consider avoiding:

Don’t sensationalize. If you do post about a racial incident on social media, don’t use pictures or videos of the incident. This risks desensitizing us to violence against black people, and can traumatize those who see it on your feed.

  • Face reality. Be sensitive and aware that Black people have been aware of systemic oppression and violence for hundreds of years; do not be surprised if your expressing surprise at these horrible events makes others feel belittled.
  • Honor differences. A person’s skin color is part of who they are and carries with it a long history and a particular experience in today’s world. Be sensitive and aware of this basic fact in all relevant contexts. These are just some of the tips you can leverage to help be an ally at work, as well as someone to help stop any racism that may be going on in your workplace.

We encourage you to read employee reviews when assessing the external perception of your company’s culture, how you are showcasing your investments in diversity and inclusion efforts, and how you’re highlighting other workplace attributes relevant to your company.

Source: Glassdoor

Here’s How to Save Energy While Working from Home

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black woman wearing headband and casual shirt paying utility bills online using laptop computer, sitting at kitchen table with papers and smiling

Across the country, many Americans are social distancing and are working at home to avoid contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus in their communities. At the same time, many schools are closed, and students are attending online classes from home.

Here are 5 tips to help you save energy and money on your electric bill if you are working or learning at home.

Consider ordering light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs to replace regular incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs use about 7 to 10 watts to create the same amount of light as a traditional 60-watt incandescent light bulb (or current 42-43 watt halogen incandescent light bulb). They also are about 33-50 percent more efficient than 13-15 watt compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

Use fans instead of air conditioners. Running two ceiling fans rather than a central whole-house air conditioner for a few hours a day can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year. Remember to turn fans off when you are not in the room.

Eliminate “phantom loads.” Turn off devices you aren’t using if they consume standby power, such as some cell phone chargers and laptops and desktop computer monitors. Consider replacing standard power strips with an advanced or “smart” power strip to further reduce phantom loads automatically.

Limit how often you open appliances such as refrigerators and ovens. If you limit opening the oven to check on food as you cook, you can save electricity, protect the appliance, protect your food, and speed up cooking times.

Make some adjustments to your dishwasher habits. Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load, because dishwashers use about the same energy and water regardless of the number of dishes inside. Before running the dishwasher, be sure to scrape off food, rather than using extra water to rinse dishes. Set an air-dry option for your dishwasher instead of heat-dry. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer recommendation on water temperature – it may have an internal heating element that allows you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature.

Use microwave ovens to cook when you can. Microwave ovens have no “warm up” time and cook more efficiently than full-size ovens. Also microwave ovens work more efficiently when the inside surfaces are clean.

For more energy-saving tips, check out EEI’s booklet, More Than 100 Ways to Improve Your Electric Bill, updated in February 2020. Located at https://www.eei.org/about/affiliates/nationalkeyaccounts/Documents/100Ways.pdf

Source: Edison Electric Institute

Reginald Miller becomes the new chief diversity officer at McDonald’s

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The outside of a McDonald's restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida

Popular fast-food chain McDonald’s has recently hired a new chief diversity officer, Reginald Miller. He will be replacing Wendy Lewis, who retired two months ago and is believed to be an integral part of combating racial bias allegations that were made earlier in the year.

“I’m proud to be joining McDonald’s at a time where diverse voices and perspectives are not just being celebrated,” Miller stated, “but engaged in accelerating meaningful change. I’m looking forward to getting to know the McDonald’s business through the lens of the people who impact it every day in countries and cultures around the world.”

Miller previously worked as the chief diversity officer for VF Corporation, the producer of brands such as Vans, Jansport, and the North Face. He officially began his new position with McDonald’s on November 9.

The chief of human resources at McDonald’s, Wendy Lewis, said of Miller, “Reggie and I share the same goal: that in order to move forward, we must move away from the notion that the responsibility of diversity lies with one person, one department or one group.”

Source: McDonald’s

Minority-Owned Firm Partners with Microsoft to Launch $250 Million Fund for Business Owners

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A group of men shaking hands and networking

Siebert Williams Shank Co. L.L.C. (SWS) is partnering with Microsoft Corp. to launch the Clear Vision Impact Fund L.L.C., with an initial $25 million seed investment from the software giant.

The nation’s largest minority-and-women-owned financial firm, SWS reports that the investment fund will have a target size of $250 million. It will invest growth and operating capital in small-and medium-sized businesses, with an emphasis on minority-owned businesses, to maximize social impact.

SWS reports the “fund” is the first of its kind created for minority-owned firms, including black businesses. It expects to focus on small and medium-sized businesses, with an emphasis on those that are minority- and women-owned, that, in general, have enterprise values of less than $100 million. SWS added the investments look to target companies demonstrating an operating track record, with sustainable business models, companies that operate in or serve underserved markets, and companies
fostering inclusive growth initiatives.

The objective of the partnership between Microsoft and SWS is to mitigate the deficits in capital access that minority-owned businesses often encounter, thereby enhancing the positive impact that these companies have on the communities in which they operate.

“We are extremely pleased to have Microsoft’s critical support in delivering the commercial and social resources necessary to strengthen underperforming communities,” Chris Williams, chairman of SWS, stated in a news release. “Our role in helping to implement Microsoft’s vision of community support is a recognition of the vital role that small businesses play in their communities, particularly during this period of widespread economic distress.”

The fresh funding is needed. Gaining access to capital to start or expand businesses has long been and continues to be an ongoing challenge for minority-owned firms.

Tahreem Kampton, assistant treasurer and CIO at Microsoft, stated, “We’re pleased to continue our 10-year relationship with Siebert Williams Shank to partner together to create new opportunities and expand access to capital for minority-owned small businesses. This is just the first step to building a more diverse and equitable playing field and we look forward to the opportunities that this investment will help create.”

The fund expects to deliver value beyond providing capital solutions to financial sponsors and entrepreneurs. It aims to do that by leveraging both SWS’s national network of relationships and its visibility and reputation within the minority business community.

Source: globenewswire.com

Inclusion at the Forefront: Letter from the Editor

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Anthony Anderson on the cover of the Black EOE Journal

By Samar Khoury

We are celebrating milestones every day, and this issue of Black EOE Journal is full of them. Inclusion surrounds this issue, as it is at the forefront more than ever.

For example, our Best of the Best lists recognize the top HBCUs and Colleges & Universities for their commitment to inclusion. This issue is also filled with firsts: Senator Kamala Harris, the first black woman of Indian descent to formally accept a vice president nomination; Jeanette Epps, the first black woman astronaut to join the international space station crew; Michael V. Drake, the University of California’s first black president; and much, much more. These are only scratching the surface. Even better news: A new law has been passed requiring large corporations to diversify their boards.

Our cover story- actor, activist, and comedian Anthony Anderson- sees value in inclusion and continuously pushes for justice. A prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, Anderson makes it his mission to advocate for a more inclusive future. “I have to build my own table and seat. We don’t have to sit at other peoplpe’s tables. We invite people to our table,” Anthony says.

Read more about his efforts and inspiring story on page 48.

We’ve also rounded up a list of influential figures who aim to make a difference in the world. From Tyler Perry to Yara Shahidi, these people are inspirations.

Read about these figures on page 30.

You, too, can make a difference, and that is by voting during the upcoming presidential election. Have your voice heard, and advocate for change. Your vote can be what the world needs. So, get out there and vote! Every vote counts.

Last but not least, job opportunities are still present among the pandemic and we’ve presented them for you. Every issue of Black EOE Journal strives to give the best job opportunities and tips while navigating these unprecedented times.

While times are changing, one thing isn’t, and that is the importance of inclusion. So, follow in Anthony Anderson, Senator Harris, Jeanette Epps, and many more influential figures’ footsteps, and make your own change.

Supplier Diversity—Part of a Black Chamber’s DNA

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By Bobby McDonald, President, OC Black Chamber

The Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce, for over 36 years, has prided itself for providing Access to Information. Our mission has strongly supported our minority and diverse communities.

We at the Black Chamber are always looking for ways to help our business community improve, enhance and grow their business.

In 2001, Supplier Diversity became an integral part of the Orange County Black Chamber and its membership.

Southern California Edison created a supplier diversity and development team that outreached with events that identified diverse suppliers for potential business opportunities.

It was easy to follow their new innovative playbook because they understood it wasn’t just the idea of doing the right thing, but supplier diversity made good business sense.

Networking, matchmaking events, business forums, “how to do business” workshops and now, the Edison Entrepreneurial, Development, Growth and Education (EDGE) Programs, offer potential members to learn how to participate, gain experience, learn the nomenclature and variance of degrees of supplier diversity, and how to prepare to do business effectively.

As far as certification goes, we at the Black Chamber have partnered with Department of General Service, who offers training and certification for small business to businesses in California. A small business certification supports the pursuit of contract opportunities with the state and helps the state meet its 25 percent goal.

The Dept. of General Services also offers certification for Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises. The chamber offers a yearly certification training event for veterans in conjunction with the California Employment Development Department.

One our biggest success was to have a two-session certification with the DGS, where 33 individuals came to get their business SB and DVBE certification. After the training, we were informed that DGS confirmed seven individuals had garnered successful certification.

The chamber has found and truly believes that corporations that set minority procurement goals that are supported by top management can achieve substantial progress in narrowing the opportunity gap between minority- and white-owned businesses.

We are now currently involved with supplier diversity programs with Southern California Gas Company, Semper Energy Utilities along with AT&T, to name a few. It’s now part of our chamber DNA.

We totally realize and understand the value of supplier diversity and how it enhances and creates proactive business and encourages the use of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, service-disabled-veteran-owned, historically underutilized business, and Small Business Administration (SBA)-defined small business concerns as suppliers.

 

What Are the Most Secure Jobs in America Now?

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Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past months. Most states have been under stay-at-home orders, which have meant nonessential businesses have shut their doors and laid off workers. Below is a list of the most secure jobs in America now.

Nurses

The median annual wage for registered nurses was $73,300 in May 2019.

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; increasing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population, as this group leads longer and more active lives.

Physicians & Surgeons

Wages for physicians and surgeons are among the highest of all occupations, with a median wage equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.

Overall employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Physician’s Assistant

The median annual wage for physician assistants was $112,260 in May 2019.

Employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 31 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As demand for healthcare services grows, physician assistants will be needed to provide care to patients.

Home Health Aide

The median annual wage for home health aides and personal care aides was $25,280 in May 2019.

Overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 34 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom generation ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for the services of home health aides and personal care aides will continue to increase.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors was $46,240 in May 2019.

Employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 25 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth is expected as people continue to seek addiction and mental health counseling.

Software Developer

The median annual wage for software developers was $107,510 in May 2019.

Employment of software developers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Software developers will be needed to respond to an increased demand for computer software.

Researchers and Scientists

The median annual wage for computer and information research scientists was $122,840 in May 2019.

Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects are expected to be excellent.

Teachers

The median annual wage for high school teachers was $61,660 in May 2019. The median annual wage for middle school teachers was $59,660 in May 2019.

Employment of high school and middle school teachers are projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Veterinarian

The median annual wage for veterinarians was $95,460 in May 2019.

Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Overall job prospects are expected to be very good.

Lawyer

The median annual wage for lawyers was $122,960 in May 2019.

Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Competition for jobs over the next 10 years is expected to be strong because more students graduate from law school each year than there are jobs available.

Source: money.usnews.com; glassdoor. com; bls.gov

How We’re Surviving through the Pandemic

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By Connie Russell | C. L. Russell Group, LLC

L. Russell Group, LLC (CLRG) is a woman-owned small business full-service workforce training company. Specializing in workforce training, content development, performance assessment and quality assurance. CLRG, like many other small businesses, is learning to persevere in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, the founder and CEO, Connie Russell, shares her inspiring story of how using creativity, connection, and a lot of driven faith to navigate her business survival in the face of adversity.

Initial Impact

Although the services we offered were adaptable for COVID-19, we still had a few challenges. Training is not a new industry, and it is very competitive. We discovered many businesses who were in other industries and trying to survive like CLRG also tapped into the training industry to save their company during this turmoil. We found ourselves not only a small company competing with other training businesses (large and small), we are now competing with businesses from other industries taking advantage of the training industry opportunities as well.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact

Undeniably, this has been the most difficult moment CLRG has faced since our five-year tenure. Our sales decreased more than 80 percent, and that was just the beginning. The severity of the Covid-19 crisis put our business, the community and many families in what some would consider uncharted territory. Even though our services initially included virtual training among other services, we were still majorly affected.

Many of our clients who valued the professional training services we provided for their employees, had to step back and reassess their organization’s essential needs during the pandemic. Unfortunately, professional training services were no longer an immediate essential service for many businesses. Many of our clients had to redirect their training funds to meet essential needs aligned with health, safety, and government regulations. Increasing our virtual and on-demand training services kept us optimistic—a high percentage of our sales came from instructor-led training. This required face-to-face training, and lack of social distancing. So, when employees began to quarantine at home, we immediately lost 100 percent of our instructor-led training services for the second quarter and counting.

Since health concerns and government pandemic policies directly impacted how people can gather for the unpredictable future, I knew CLRG had to quickly reassess our existing services as well as pivot our business model. It was time to seriously bootup.

CLRG shared a few tips that helped them pivot their business during the pandemic below.

Pandemic Pivoting

As our team brainstormed over innovative marketing tactics, we decided to focus on utilizing two (2) Cs of marketing: Customer Solutions and Convenience. The two Cs of marketing put the customer’s interests (the buyer, our clients) ahead of the marketer’s interests (the seller, CLRG).

 

  • Customer Solutions, Not Products: Understand your client’s needs as well as find solutions to their problems. Customers want to buy value or a solution to their problems. CLRG collaborated with other small businesses as well as community organizations to help identify essential needs. This allowed us to broaden our services not only from a business perspective but from a community professional trainer provider. CLRG also identified the trending industries affected by COVID-19 and aligned essential training services to meet those needs as well.

 

  • Outcome: Focusing on customer solutions allowed CLRG to expand in new industries such as the Health Industry. This industry was one of CLRG’s goals for our 2020 opportunity list! Connecting with the community allowed us the opportunity to offer complimentary virtual skills training courses to individuals who were unemployed during the pandemic or simply wanted to use this time to enhance their skills. We discovered possible ways to be a part of the solution, not just for businesses, but the community as well. This was a healing process for everyone.

 

  • Convenience, Not Place: Customers want products and services to be as convenient to purchase as possible. Design your products/services so the customer feels confident when utilizing your services. Customers do not want to embark on additional work to use your products/services. Putting yourself in the place of the customer when trying to decide how to design a more efficient service isn’t always the best route. You already know your products/services so it can be challenging to discover new innovative designs. Try ideation sessions with external stakeholders to discover innovative ways to serve your customers. CLRG wanted to ensure the experience during this sensitive time was beneficial to our customers. Since this was a very unpredictable time, CLRG designed a service that was convenient based on our client needs, with the option of flexibility.

 

  • Outcome: By initially inquiring with our clients about their ‘current’ needs, and not focusing on what we had to offer; CLRG was able to design services that were timely, convenient and flexible during the pandemic. When you demonstrate to clients that you are flexible when meeting their needs (especially during a pandemic), this is when true customer relationships are developed.

Remaining Optimistic into the Future

Ridiculous faith has become my mantra during this pandemic. I refused to believe the pandemic would be the reason CLRG closed its doors. I must admit, I have been truly blessed with an amazing team. As the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’ We truly discovered what a real shoestring budget feels like, but it has also shown us our true colors of perseverance. There were times my team members would ask why I continued to go into the office. Although my verbal response was ‘because we’re still paying rent’ I was actually thinking of the words my mother would often say to me: ‘continue to move forward as if it is.’ We will continue to strive for excellence, seek innovative solutions and humbly serve. CLRG will continue to believe we have a purpose here and will continue to positively impact the workforce industry for businesses, the community, and families.

Lessons Learned

As a professional development training company, we found ourselves receiving just as much training as our customers during this pandemic. There were so many lessons learned thus far during the pandemic, and I’m sure more to come. But if I had to think of two it would be leadership and relationships. True leadership is demonstrated during trials. On many occasions, I found myself serving in several roles. But it was through this experience I was able to discover new ideas and see my business from different perspectives. When you’re always serving as the leader, sometimes you miss these opportunities to get your hands dirty…literally.

Relationships are key, period. During challenging times, it was very important to stay connected with our customers and associates. Simply sending a hello to let them know you’re thinking about them and hoping they’re doing well says a lot. It demonstrates your sensitivity to the situation at hand and acknowledges that you’re authentic about your relationship. Our customers appreciated this. We will continue to stay optimistic and believe a silver lining is on the way. Until then, we are preparing for the new norm.”

 Click here to view the source: CL Russell Group.

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