How Black Girls Code transformed from basement experiment to international movement

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Kimberly Bryant stands behind a podium wearing a shirt that read Phenomenal Woman

By Halley Bondy

Throughout her biotech engineering career, Kimberly Bryant was the only black female in the room most of the time. And as Bryant rose the ranks to become manager at companies like DuPont, Phillip Morris and Genentech, she yearned for a more inclusive world for her daughter Kai.

Kai had developed a knack for gaming and coding, which is a very male, white and Asian-dominated business.

“It happened that I stumbled into this issue of diversity of inclusion and tech,” said Bryant in an interview with Know Your Value. “My daughter was about to go to middle school and was interested in tech and video gaming and gaming in general…I found that there wasn’t a strong program that would focus on girls of color and getting them prepared in the skills they’d need to move into this career field.”

Women of color earn less than 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computing, according to the Kapor Center. And black women make up less than 0.5 percent of leadership roles in tech. Even in women-led small tech businesses, women of color only comprise 4 percent of the workforce.

With Kai’s help, Bryant called upon colleagues at Genentech to put together a six-week coding curriculum for girls of color in 2011. She conducted the first educational series in a basement of a college prep institution in San Francisco, which was loaned to Bryant for free. Bryant expected about six students, but the class attracted about a dozen girls, including of course, Kai.

Bryant’s small community effort attracted the attention of ThoughtWorks, a global tech consultancy company. ThoughtWorks invested in Bryant in January 2012 and gave her access to space and resources across the country, as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a few years, the operation transformed from a basement experiment into a global non-profit with 15 chapters. They called themselves Black Girls Code.

The more mature chapters might boast up to 1,000 students a year, according to Bryant, who runs the organization full-time.

“I didn’t know it would be a nonprofit,” said Bryant. “This was us just trying to test the waters and make something locally where I could bring my daughter, so she could find a tribe of girls interested in the same thing, but it took off from humble beginnings.”

The Black Girls Code curriculum teaches everything from web development to robotics to Artificial Intelligence. Many of the first-year students are now in college, including Kai, who is in her sophomore year studying computer science.

Bryant wants to expand Black Girls Code into a life-long support network to help retention rates in tech.

“One of the things that I’m really excited about is building out this alumni network that we’ve grown over the last eight years,” said Bryant. “Many of the girls…are about to go to college, and they have a need for support as they continue their career and collegiate journeys.”

Bryant said she was never interested in coding — that was all her daughter. Instead, Bryant studied engineering at Vanderbilt University. She said she met only one other African American female engineering student in her four years there, and that none of her professors were even female, let alone black.

“I didn’t have any role models,” said Bryant.

Still, she excelled. Bryant was only 25 when she became a manager at DuPont in Tennessee. She said her manager there—whom she otherwise adored—jokingly introduced her to the team as a “twofer,” because she was black and a woman.

The Black Girls Code curriculum teaches everything from web development to robotics to Artificial IntelligenceCourtesy of Black Girls Code.

“I’m positive those men had never worked for a black woman as their manager,” she said. “It was a learning experience. I spent most of my career in these types of positions. There were always these implicit and explicit biases that I had to deal with as I tried to establish authority as a black woman.”

Continue on to NBC News read the complete article.

Who Said Woman Was Not Meant to Fly?

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Bronwyn Morgan pictured smiling sitting at a table

By Laurie Dowling, National Utilities Diversity Council

What do you get when a serial innovator merges her vocation and her avocation? You get Bronwyn Morgan, founder of Xeo Air, an outsourced AI-based drone services and data analytics company, and Airversity Drone Academy & Consulting.

Founded in 2019, Xeo Air is the next step in a management and entrepreneurial journey that has taken Bronwyn from strategic visioning at Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, to media, academia and now aerospace futuring.

For those of us whose knowledge of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – drones) has mostly been garnered from adventure movies, it may come as a surprise that in the next two years the commercial drone industry in the US is expected to reach $100 billion. In the four years since the Federal Aviation Administration granted more operations exemptions and flight regulations for professional drone services, they have increasingly become a part of business and civilian life, even if we aren’t always aware of them. They do and will perform functions ranging from mapping and data collection to delivery, crop fertilizing and facility disinfecting.

Xeo Air focuses on business to business solutions with inspection and mapping services with high definition video, thermography, LIDAR and infrared, for industries including civil infrastructure, oil and gas, wind, solar, utilities, construction, telecommunications, disaster response and government. Xeo Air is a young startup with an administrative team of four and 20 FAA part 107 certified pilots, and Bronwyn and her backers see it poised for growth as companies continue to embrace this game-changing geospatial data collection tool that saves businesses time and money so they can make decisions more quickly.

Additionally, to serve the growing need in public safety and corporations that need in-house capacity in unmanned aerial vehicles, a year ago, Bronwyn created a training company – Airversity Drone Academy and Consulting – which fields a team of FAA 107 certified instructors (pilots) based around the US who provide FAA exam prep and flight training.

A few questions for Bronwyn:

Are there a lot of drone companies owned by women?

I am part of a small but growing segment of the industry owned by women. Less than 10 percent of drone companies are owned by women, but the numbers are increasing, and there are more women in senior positions in larger companies as well.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with your company so far?

Scaling up. It takes resources and time to grow your client base and to source talent, and you must sharpen your business model as the environment changes in this young industry. We also have limitations based on regulations and equipment innovation, but that is changing rapidly.

Have you had to educate potential customers on drone services because of misperceptions?

Absolutely. What most people know of drones is primarily their military usage. Our UAVs are very different and our business is different. We have to educate our potential clients about how drones can help their businesses and how we can help them make decisions faster, safer and at a lower price point than traditional services. And when you put it together with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the data becomes more actualized. There are so many uses for our services. Example: We’re able to get up and down a tower for routine inspection within an hour and capture significant data critical to immediate maintenance requirements. We can also assess damage to critical infrastructure after disasters, which can mean life and death in emergency response. Additionally, our capabilities can provide streaming information that allows customers to see real time the status of any asset. The use cases are endless.

What do you think is your competitive advantage?

We’re building an end-to-end product. We can collect data; keep you informed digitally through the processes and analyze the information for immediate use. We’re able to take care of customers end to end. And we can do it securely, with a high level of customer service. We treat our clients’ business as if it were our own.

What is in your future?

I’m working on solutions with flying passenger vehicles, to be announced soon. This is the future of aeronautics. It’s a dream job. When I was in high school, I wanted to fly fighter planes, which they didn’t allow women to do. I think my job is better!

We agree. In fact, please forgive the pun, but we think Bronwyn is soaring.

For more information on Xeo Air click here.

For more information on Airversity, click here.

For more information on NUDC and its free programs to advance diversity, click here.

What Will the Workplace Look Like After Covid-19?

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Motion blurred shot of two business people talking through modern office hallway. People walking in office entrance hall.

By BWISE

What will the workplace look like after the long nightmare of Covid-19 is over? While there is no way to be certain of the changes to come, it will most definitely be much different than it looked prior to it.

Companies across the country are laying off and furloughing employees in record numbers and unemployment has reached levels not seen since The Great Depression. In addition, we now have four generations in the workplace: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Generation Z., each with their own needs and perspective on how Covid-19 has affected them. Unlike other economic downturns, this pandemic has also resulted in significant illness and loss of life for millions of people. And the devastation of small businesses is unprecedented.

How will organizations of the future handle all of this?

Companies are in the business of making money, not dealing with the fallout of a healthcare and fiscal crisis. There is not even a business function that exists to handle what corporations, government or academia is dealing with these days. While human resources might seem like the appropriate department to coordinate these efforts, it is not. After years of reductions in staff, it has neither the capacity nor the qualifications to even adequately handle what is happening now. What’s needed immediately and for the long term are experts in workplace solutions. These experts are paying attention to global social and economic trends and are advising business leaders on how not just survive, but to adapt.

The Importance of D&I

In the future, we will almost certainly see a rise in positions in life sciences as well as in supply chain management. As software began to take over the world, both industries have faced reductions in salaries and employees due to managements’ drive to cut costs. While millions of people practiced social distancing at home, we now see how essential these functions really are. And just as important is ensuring that organizations are not cutting back on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts amidst all of this. The economic disparity in race and gender has had a tremendous impact on communities of color. The rates of infection and mortality for Blacks and Hispanics far exceeds that of the population overall. Business and political leaders must prioritize plans to make sure that EVERYONE in the workforce can earn a livable wage.

Moving the Needle

Without an influx of new talent each year, the United States will far further behind other nations in innovative and technological advances. There is still a critical need for qualified technical workers, but we cannot expect women and underrepresented minorities to remain in work environments where they do not grow and thrive. We also cannot expect girls to enter fields where they do not see positive role models. It’s imperative that we stop the constant drip from the leaky STEM pipeline by working hard to retain diverse candidates from the middle to the end. Despite our best efforts to encourage future generations to become scientists and engineers, there is no guarantee they will enter or stay in the STEM workforce once their education is complete. Let’s spend more time and money to ensure we can keep those Black women who are determined enough to make science a career.

Founded by Erika Jefferson, Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE), which supports underrepresented women in STEM through networking, mentorship, and career development, is partnering with Cambio, a multi-faceted recruiting and diversity platform founded by Neil Patwardhan and Bob Richards. Both organizations are focused on truly moving the needle on DEI hiring in meaningful way.

Partnering for Good

BWISE, with its professional job board and network of over 15,000 scientists, engineers and technologists, can focus on guiding employers and diverse job seekers with a focus on Black women in STEM. And Cambio, through its diversity engine and analytics, can spotlight diverse candidates and focus on delivering the best. BWISE was founded with the purpose to support underrepresented women through networking, mentorship and career development. The group primarily consists of Black women from middle management through senior leadership with degrees in the sciences, math and engineering who would like to connect with others. The organization provides a platform and a space to share career experiences and be empowered.

Cambio’s mission is to create a more human experience in the world of recruiting and job searching, and to make the process more transparent by embracing the swipe culture of viral mobile applications. A powerful part of the company’s platform is the ability to surface underrepresented qualified talent to ensure recruiters get the right visibility. Cambio aims to speed up the hiring process and lead the way in diversity hiring to help companies meet their workforce goals for 2020 and beyond.

For additional information, news and updates on BWISE, visit www.bwiseusa.org.  

For additional information, news and updates on Cambio, visit www.cambiome.com.

How TikTok is Helping Students Heal

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tik tok logo black background white text and a musical note symbol at top

Popular social media app TikTok has become a viral success in the past two years of its existence. A platform that encourages original content and creativity, TikTok has become the home to aspiring comedians, dancers and musicians, giving them a space and an audience to gain popularity and to build their careers. But the potential success of young aspiring artists doesn’t stop there, as TikTok has announced its newest project, The Summer Songwriting Academy, which launched on June 24.

Partnering with the After-School All Stars program and Syracuse University’s Bandier Program, TikTok’s newest program serves to provide a space for students of lower incomes and fewer resources to have all the tools they need to express themselves through music.  The Bandier Program’s curriculum of the classes will not only include tools to better shape the aspiring musicians but will also offer classes in the music industry, music theory, and technology.

Many of the students who participate in the After-School All Stars program come from areas that have been especially affected by the impacts of the COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, and the injustices that have been brought to the black community. This being the case, Carlos Santini, the Executive Vice President of the programs, believes that their newest partnership with TikTok will allow for students to have a proper way to heal and express themselves.

“Music has a rich history in speaking out against injustice and speaking up for the rights and freedoms of all people,” Santini stated. “Our collective voice will be heard in a bigger way because of this amazing collaboration.”

In correspondence with the program, TikTok is also inviting some of their most popular musical influencers to share their experiences via livestream over the next four weeks. Artists featured in these segments will include Melanie Martinez, Timbaland, Tiagz, Jack Harlow, Mikey Keenan and many others. Any musician wishing to share their experiences can do so through TikTok’s featured hashtag, #BehindTheSong, where creators can post their songs.

To learn more about the program and to participate in its events, viewers can tap the TikTok Summer Songwriting Academy banner on the app’s homepage or visit After-School All Stars’ TikTok page, @afterschoolallstars.

Air Force general confirmed as first black chief of a U.S. military service

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General Charles Q. Brown in uniform

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the next Air Force chief of staff, making him the first African American leader of a military service as the Pentagon and the country grapple with a raft of racial issues.

The confirmation also makes Brown the second African American officer to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.

The 98-to-0 vote was a blowout approval for the four-star general. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the historic vote.

President Donald Trump, who nominated Brown in March, hailed the general on Twitter.

“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate,” Trump said, though the tweet came before the confirmation vote. “A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”

Brown’s nomination had been in the works for months, yet the vote came amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Top Air Force officials led the way in speaking out over the past week and calling for dialogue on racism. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the service’s top enlisted leader, became the first senior military official to speak out, and was followed by outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Brown, who is currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, delivered an emotional message Friday about his experience as a black airman.

In addition to becoming the first African American service chief, Brown will be the most senior African American Pentagon leader since Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but for the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.

“Without clear-cut answers, I just want to have the wisdom and knowledge to lead during difficult times like these,” Brown said of his nomination to be the service’s top officer. “I want the wisdom and knowledge to lead, participate in and listen to necessary conversations on racism, diversity and inclusion.”

Continue on to Politico to read the complete article.

Job Interviews are Going Virtual, Here’s What You Need to Know

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Man giving virtual job interview online

As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.

But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.

Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.

Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.

  • Presentation
  • As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.

  • Make Eye Contact
  • As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.

  • Remember the Lag
  • Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.

  • Use Your Resources
  • Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.

Working from Home? Here Are Some Tips

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Pensive african woman using laptop computer while sitting at home with cup of coffee

Most advice about how to make working from home actually work focuses on the practical: The right office space. The right desk. The ergonomically perfect chair. The right software, the right messaging platform, the right apps…all the “stuff” you need to make remote work actually work.

Yet, ask most people who made the transition to working from home what they struggled with most – and continue to struggle with—and they will list things like staying motivated, managing their time wisely, avoiding distractions and staying on task—none of which has anything to do with “stuff.”

When I first started working from home, I instinctively replicated my old office environment. I bought a big desk. Nice credenza. Conference table. Large filing cabinet. Fancy chair. A cool land-line phone. To paraphrase the eminently quotable Chris Rock, that’s what I was accustomed to.

So, I assumed that’s what I needed.

But none of those things made me efficient, much less effective. I missed the “structure” of the workplace, the natural rhythm of a workday that, even though I was in charge, was still only partly under my control.

So, more often than I like to admit, I sometimes drifted. I was easily distracted. I was easily bored. I missed the structure. I missed the sense of urgency that the presence of other people helps foster.

Then I took a step back and thought about my most productive days. Not just the days I got a lot of things done, but the days I also got a lot of the right things done.

They all had one thing in common: A mission. An outcome, a deliverable—something tangible that created a real sense of purpose.

If you’re struggling to work as effectively from home—or if your employees are struggling to work as effectively from home—shift from focusing on tasks to focusing on outcomes. (Don’t worry; tasks are the foundation of outcomes.)

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow and determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer desktop) so you can hit the ground running the next day. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure the questions you need answered already have answers.

Then sit down and dive in.

And commit to completing everything you need to get done. Allowing yourself to give in to excuses, rationalizations, etc. is a slippery slope—and becomes a habit extremely hard to break.

But will be less of a problem when you get your most important task done right away. Starting your day with a productive bang naturally creates the momentum and motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on the day’s outcome list.

And the next. And the next.

Because completing a task is fine, but achieving an important outcome is satisfying, fulfilling, and motivating.

So never forget: What matters is what you accomplish from wherever you work. Success has nothing to do with your desk, or your chair, or your office space. (Today, my “office” is my backpack and my computer and wherever I feel like sitting.)

Success is all about what you achieve, and achievement always starts with knowing what you want to accomplish. And more importantly, why.

Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

Source: Owl Labs

Meet Brittney Nicole: Navy Veteran Turned Fashion Entrepreneur

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A clothes rack filled with women's coats

Transitioning from military life back into civilian life is a challenge for any veteran. While there are many different approaches in choosing a career, one U.S. Navy Veteran decided that she would approach her career choice by following her passions.

Always having a love for fashion, Brittney Nicole decided to open her own clothing business, Coco’s Wardrobe, upon her retirement from the U.S. Navy.  The New Orleans based boutique designs, manufactures, and sells women’s clothing that is meant to look as good as they feel, blending comfort with style. All of the clothing in Nicole’s shop has a women’s desire to feel confident and comfortable at the forefront of everything that is produced.

In addition, Nicole has also began selling uniquely designed face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital

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LA-pride-2019

On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

3 Things You Need To Know About A May Job Search

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Professional Black Man Standing Outside the Office

It’s impossible to predict what the job market will have in store over the next few months. Even as economic data continues to trend downward, it is hard to guess in what ways hiring demand for the rest of the year will be shaped by widespread reopening of the economy and the requirement to put in place new public health measures.

If you need or have a strong desire to get a new job, you’ll want to start getting ready for a multitude of scenarios. While the job market is slow at the moment, it could ramp up faster than you expect or in industries you aren’t yet targeting.

It’s fair to prepare yourself for a longer job search than you would have experienced this time last year, but don’t give up on your efforts. Before you launch or continue your job search, here’s what you need to know to help you face this month’s unique challenges and find new opportunities.

1. You’ll benefit if you stay on top of hiring trends

No matter how bleak hiring data may appear at the moment, many companies will still have new, interesting and unexpected jobs that need to be filled this year.

Right now, companies are still trying to figure out how they will operate in this new environment once social distancing guidelines lessen or are removed. What they can’t foresee is how much customer demand they will have, how consumer behavior and personal values may have permanently changed and what they will need to do to make their business more resilient in the future. All of these factors will create significant changes to their corporate strategy, exposing leadership gaps and creating new talent needs.

As hard as it is to imagine right now, the business world will get back to operating at full capacity but likely in a very different form. Some companies will experience a long-lasting or permanent shrinking of their business while others will find ways to quickly innovate and expand. This process of resetting the corporate landscape will take some time and it hasn’t fully begun yet. Many leaders are still trying to deal with their most immediate problems which are largely centered around managing their cash flow.

You’ll have a head start and huge competitive advantage if you pay close attention to the news over the next few months and prepare to target the new and unexpected jobs that will soon be needed. If you don’t make it a regular habit to follow sites that focus on business-related content or watch business-only news channels such as CNBC, this is the time that you need to start. Consider this research a major part of your job-searching tasks.

Admittedly, there is no guarantee that you will be qualified for the jobs that emerge or that they will be in the right geographic location for you. But you can’t even begin to assess the fit, work to match your skills to the new needs or consider remote working options if you aren’t even aware that these new jobs exist.

Start this month by building the habit of monitoring the business world more closely than you normally would and be on the lookout for emerging hiring trends.

2. Your networking will be more effective when it’s done slowly

Unfortunately, there are few new ideas on how to best conduct a job search. You’ve likely heard it again and again, but networking is still the most efficient use of a job seeker’s time.

This month, work to reactivate and strengthen your network through personal outreach and check-ins. While you should focus on networking daily, resist the urge to mass email your résumé or have transactional discussions. Difficult times and prolonged social distancing have left many people craving a sense of community, which creates the perfect environment for genuine networking.

Instead of jumping right to your desire to be on the radar for job leads or blasting out copy and pasted emails about your background, try a slower and more methodical approach. Invest time in writing better emails and catching up without a specific ask at the end of your message. These tactics are much more effective in the long run. When the market warms up again, these efforts will have been beneficial in deepening your connections, so that the more direct inquiries you send later will be better received.

The key to developing a stronger relationship is to focus first on the connection with the individual and not on your job search. Be sure to remind people that you care about them beyond your professional needs. This will help them care enough to keep you top of mind when new opportunities inevitably start developing.

3. Once started, your hiring process may move faster than usual

In a booming job market, one of the hardest things about conducting a search is never knowing when a job lead is worth your effort. Many of the jobs you’d see online were outdated or low priorities for the recruiters and hiring managers. Other openings were for jobs that the company hadn’t thought through very well and weren’t sure what they actually wanted or needed in the position. Even in a hot market, it was a frustrating experience to find motivated hiring managers, and job processes often went on longer than necessary.

If there’s any good news about conducting a job search during hard economic times, it’s that almost every job lead you see or hear about is indeed a well-formed position and a priority at the company. If it wasn’t, it would not be open right now.

Jobs that open in the next few months will be created out of necessity—something urgent needs to be built or fixed in the business or someone important resigned—and need to be filled as soon as possible. This can work in your favor if you stay diligent about monitoring job openings throughout the otherwise slow month ahead and are ready to engage your network to find a contact for these searches immediately.

Keep in mind that these jobs will be filled quickly and competition will be fierce. Due to the large number of applicants that are recently unemployed, it will be harder than ever to simply get noticed without a personal contact. This is yet another reason why networking should be your top priority all month long.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

The More Diverse the Management, the Higher the Profits

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A group of diverse employees looking and writing on a whiteboard

By Stacey A. Gordon

A financial study of 1,000 large companies by McKinsey & Co. found that the more diverse the management, the higher the profits, compared with companies composed of less diversity.

Companies in the top 25 percent with the most ethnic executives outperformed other firms with profits 33 percent higher than those in the bottom 25 percent with fewer ethnic workers. Firms more inclusive of women in management showed 21 percent more revenue than those with fewer women in executive roles.

Corporate hiring and training in the field of Unconscious Bias and Diversity and Inclusion is on the rise. Before Virgin America was purchased by Alaska Airlines, they offered my LinkedIn Learning course on Unconscious Bias in their in-flight entertainment to spread awareness of workplace diversity—which can be a difficult subject to talk about at work.

Approximately 96 percent of men enjoy executive positions where they unconsciously promote other men. Given even a slight 1 percent bias in favor of males, research shown in the Unconscious Bias course determines that promoting men over and over due to unconscious bias can leave women and minorities losing out approximately 60 percent via promotions over 20 years. This costs companies not only money, multicultural expertise, and outlook in our global economy, but also compels experienced female employees to opt out when they learn how certain companies select candidates. The Unconscious Bias course opens our minds to how we filter out the biases we’ve grown up with and the complicity of the treatment we see happening in the workplace.

So how do we succeed in hiring a more diverse workforce, while ensuring employees feel like they belong in the environment?

The first step is to be aware of language. As an example, I participated in a Diversity and Inclusion Summit where one of the speakers, a CEO of a large insurance company, was asked how she ensures the company’s recruiters employ hiring practices that result in diverse candidates. She stated there was no need to do anything differently because experienced and skilled candidates will apply and make their way through the system—because those hiring look solely at skills—not race or ethnicity. Yet, the fact that there are so few black, Latino or LGBT employees at her company is not due to a lack of skill. The meritocracy argument has been proven time and time again to be a feeble excuse for maintaining the status quo. Unconscious bias creeps into our review process as well as our decision-making by giving us the impression we’re being fair, when really, we are making assumptions. Assuming a candidate deliberately omitted information rather than simply forgot is one way our language betrays us. As an alternative, to “It’s unfortunate that you lied,” try, “This probably was an oversight.”

The second step in gaining greater awareness is to stop assuming that hiring women and hiring professionals of color check the same box. If every time the word “diversity” is mentioned at your company, you are actually talking about “women,” then it’s time to broaden your outlook.

When I was a manager at a Fortune 100 financial services company, I was the only black female manager on the entire west coast, and only one of three black managers. I dreaded participating in the management retreats because the only time anyone would listen to me was when I spoke about the Women in Financial Services annual event. No one seemed to care that my management style resulted in the recruitment and retention of one of the most diverse and profitable teams in our division. I wanted to be recognized for my successful contribution to the company’s bottom line, not simply because I was spearheading a women’s event. Our voices need to be heard, and we want to be noticed for our contributions, not merely for the box we check at a company gathering or on an EEOC report.

Third, don’t be the organization that makes statements like “I don’t want to lower the bar.” It’s insulting and racist by definition. What can be inferred from this statement is that the person hiring does not want to deviate from the current organizational structure or process because “It has worked so far.”

The bonus phrase, “We just want a good fit” is just as disastrous. It can be replaced with “We can’t find any qualified [Black, Latino, Asian, female, LGBT, disabled or veteran] applicants.” But the result is the same. No change.

Why change at all? To avoid the blunders we see repeated around the globe, to reap the financial benefits of diverse workforce and to create an inclusive organization that isn’t lowering the bar, but raising standards of behavior for everyone, leadership included.

We all want to work somewhere that makes us feel that we belong. If you’d like your company to be one of those workplaces, maybe it’s time to review your policies, your goals and your behavior toward current and future employees. By stopping to reflect on how you can think and act differently, you will be well on your way to cultivating a more diverse workforce.

Our offices will never be the same after COVID-19. Here’s what they could look like

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It’s hard to imagine now—as most of us are reading this in quarantine, with our feet propped on Costco boxes of spaghetti noodles—but we will one day have to go back to our offices. COVID-19 won’t be eradicated, and not everyone will be immune. But we’ll still be expected to sit at a desk and work. So how will work…work?

That’s the question that commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield is answering already, because in the past month, the company has helped 10,000 organizations in China move nearly one million people back to work. Using learnings gathered in China, along with World Health Organization data and the advice of medical specialists, the firm developed a new concept inside its own Amsterdam headquarters dubbed the Six Feet Office. It’s both a working laboratory and a showroom for the firm’s clients meant to call attention to how people might safely go back to work in offices (which is, of course, in Cushman & Wakefield’s financial interest).

Jeroen Lokerse, head of Cushman & Wakefield in the Netherlands, led a rapid, one-week redesign of the company’s own office space to encourage better hygiene and social distancing. The core premise is to ensure that six feet, the recommended measurement for safe social distancing, stays between people at all times. This behavior is encouraged through properly spaced desks, but also visual signals, such as a circle embedded in the carpeting around each desk to ensure people don’t get too close.

“[We’re] using design to nudge behavior,” says Despina Katsikakis, head of Occupier Business Performance at Cushman & Wakefield. “And part of this is, how we shift very ingrained behaviors and expectations of how we work.”

Using arrows on the floor, people are also encouraged to walk clockwise, and only clockwise, in lanes around the office. This one-way traffic is the same approach that healthcare workers take in hospitals to help avoid the spread of pathogens.

Each morning, employees are also asked to grab a paper placemat for their desk. At the end of the day, the paper is thrown away, which could help mitigate some contact-based spread of COVID-19 on office surfaces.

Cushman & Wakefield is even installing beacons into its office, which track the movements of employees throughout the space via their phones. Those beacons will be a way for the company to audit the efficacy of its own design—did people get too close or not?—and they may be used to audibly alert people when they break the invisible six-foot barrier. (Yes, to anyone who works outside an office management company, this sounds extremely invasive.)

But is it enough? (No.)

While these ideas do hold some promise, the question remains whether or not a six-foot buffer really is enough to prevent the spread of a virus as contagious as COVID-19. The virus can live on surfaces for days at a time, and it can float for three hours in the air, waiting to infect people who breathe it in. Through that lens, the efforts to keep people separated may help for a brief encounter, but they probably don’t go far enough in spaces that many human bodies are sharing for eight or more hours at a time—especially spaces that are as notoriously poorly ventilated as office buildings. Most office HVAC systems don’t bring in much, if any, fresh air. Instead, they recirculate what’s already inside, which is a mix of carbon dioxide from our exhalations, chemicals that off-gassed from building and decorating materials, and, of course, airborne pathogens. (Studies for indoor air quality get 100 times less funding than outdoor air, which is why you might not have heard much about this.)

Cushman & Wakefield agrees. “Improved air filtration is probably the single most important lesson learned from China,” says Katsikakis. One reason that the labor force has returned to work so quickly is that China’s office buildings have been installing high-end air filtration systems for several years now, and the country even introduced its own indoor air certification standard, in response to rising pollution. (Many offices are also running in rotational shifts, to keep the number of people in an office at once to a minimum.)

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Photo Credit:  Cushman & Wakefield

The Highest In-Demand Job

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Whether you are a currently in the field, used to be in the field, or strive to enter the field, California is calling for thousands of medical professionals to come and treat those affected by COVID-19.

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, medical centers across the state have begun to reach capacity for the number of patients being treated for the virus. Because of this, temporary medical centers created from non-traditional medical spaces have allowed for more people affected by the virus to be treated.  For example, the Los Angeles Convention Center, a building typically used for conferences and trade shows, is being transformed into a temporary hospital by the National Guard. This transformation is also rumored to happen at the Los Angeles and Oakland Coliseums. Even centers not treating the novel coronavirus are being created to relieve the pressure from current hospitals. U.S. Navy ships have already transformed themselves into hospitals and have begun to accept patients not fighting the coronavirus.

However, with more medical centers comes a higher need for medical professionals, especially since California is expected to reach peak diagnoses in May.

To fill the gap for medical professionals, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that allowed for an increase of medical professionals to be allowed to work, waiving certain licensing and requirements to get medical students into the workforce faster.

Newsom is also encouraging retired medical professionals to temporarily come back to the workforce to join the cause. David Miller, the research director for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, has suggested that out-of-practice medical professionals can still be deemed useful in areas of triage and medical transfers.

Natalie Rodgers
Black EOE Journal contributing writer

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine

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Upcoming Events

  1. National Society of Black Engineers 46th Annual Convention
    August 19, 2020 - August 23, 2020
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    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  3. Blacks in Government (BIG) 42nd Annual National Training Institute
    August 24, 2020 - August 27, 2020
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    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020
 
*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Upcoming Events

  1. National Society of Black Engineers 46th Annual Convention
    August 19, 2020 - August 23, 2020
  2. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  3. Blacks in Government (BIG) 42nd Annual National Training Institute
    August 24, 2020 - August 27, 2020
  4. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
  5. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020