New Law Requires Large Corporations to Diversify Boards

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A diverse board of directors sitting around a table

By Natalie Rodgers

On August 31, California lawmakers passed a new, unnamed piece of legislature that would increase diversity and inclusion rates in big California businesses.

Under this new law, large corporations would be required to have at least one board member on their team who comes from an underrepresented community. The legislature further clarifies the definition of underrepresented communities to include: Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, or LGBTQ+.

“Corporations have money, power, and influence,” Assemblyman and author of the law Chris Holden stated. “If we are going to address racial injustice and inequity in our society, it’s imperative that corporate boards reflect the diversity of our state.”

Holden hopes that the bill will make large representative changes resulting in racial justice, similar to the gender equality shown after the passing of the 2018 bill, requiring big-name corporations that have a certain number of women on their board.

While presenting the new legislature, lawmakers strived to prove the necessity for its existence by referring to various studies that showed a lack of diversity in big corporations and the state of California alike. One such study, done by the Deloitte and Alliance for Board Diversity in 2018, stated that out of the 1,222 new board members that were introduced to Fortune 100 companies, 940 of them identified as Caucasian, a whopping 77 percent. Another study, done by the Latino Corporate Directors Association in July 2020, stated that 87 percent of California business boards did not have Latino representation, despite making up almost 40 percent of the total population. Many large technology companies, such as Apple and Facebook, were also tested to have all-white executives in the top executive positions on the board.

“There is enough evidence to show there is discrimination,” Holden told lawmakers. “The numbers simply don’t lie.”

Besides the presence of discrimination, lawmakers also showed evidence of the economic impact that diversity can have on large corporations. Companies that present a larger understanding and representation of diversity have shown to increase in profit as their target audience begins to draw in more people from various backgrounds.

Under Holden’s law, diversity would be required to increase in the coming years in California businesses. Corporations with more than nine board members would need to have a minimum of three members that come from underrepresented communities and corporations with  five to eight board members would be required to have at least two of these members. If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the law would also penalize those violators with fines starting at $100,000.

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.

Mississippi’s Asya Branch Wins Miss USA 2020

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Miss USA pageant winner Asya Branch smilign with sash on and clasping hands

Better late than never! Months after the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Miss Mississippi USA Asya Branch has been crowned Miss USA 2020.

Branch, 22, was awarded the coveted title on Monday in a competition that aired live from Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. She was crowned by her predecessor, Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst.

Placing second runner-up was Miss Oklahoma USA Mariah Jane Davis, and just ahead of her was first runner-up, Miss Idaho USA Kim Layne.

Branch was the first African American to be named Miss Mississippi USA and comes from Booneville.

Prior to her win on Monday night, Branch shared her take on gun laws in her final statement.

“We should require people to pass training and safety classes” before attaining guns, she said.

This year’s winner was chosen by a selection committee that included Fox Nation host Abby Hornacek, entrepreneur Gloria Mayfield Banks, sports reporter and Miss USA 1999 Kimberly Pressler, businesswoman Susan Yara, Miss USA 2000 Lynnette Cole and Carolyn Aronson, CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare and Be A 10 Cosmetics.

The night’s festivities — which were originally slated for spring, but got postponed due to COVID-19 — were hosted by sports reporter and Miss Teen USA 2005 Allie LaForce and American Ninja Warrior co-host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, a former professional football player.

The competition also included a virtual performance by American Idol alum Haley Reinhart.

With the crown now sitting pretty atop her head, Branch will move to New York City to represent the Miss USA brand and various philanthropic organizations, just as Kryst did before her.

“Being Miss USA has afforded me the opportunity to be an advocate for issues that deserve attention, including criminal justice reform and racial inequality,” Kryst said in a statement. “I am proud to continue the legacy of national titleholders who speak up and encourage change, and I look forward to supporting the next Miss USA and Miss Teen USA in doing the same.”

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: People

Kamala Harris speaks for the first time as vice president-elect

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Kamala Harrsie stands behind podium smiling with U.S. flags in the background

Kamala Harris addressed Americans for the first time as vice president-elect of the United States, making history as the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to win the nation’s second highest office.

At an event in Wilmington, Delaware, with President-elect Joe Biden, she nodded specifically to the work of the women who came before her, adding: “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”

She spoke about an America under the Biden administration that focused on equality and justice, and reminded supporters that “America’s democracy is not guaranteed — it is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.”

The Associated Press called the 2020 election for Biden after calling the race in Pennsylvania, giving him more than the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. “We the people have the power to build a better future,” she said.

 

Source: PBS News Hour

A Lifetime of Service

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Montel Williams has served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces.

By Brady Rhoades

Montel Williams served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces.

Through Military Makeover, which he produces and hosts, the Emmy-award winning TV icon has transformed the homes and lives of hundreds of veterans and their families. The show, which airs on Lifetime TV and AFN, has produced some of the most memorable moments in TV history.

In a February, 2020 episode, Montel and the Military Makeover crew helped Debi, the Gold Star widow of Operation Desert Storm veteran Chris Hixon, who was killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School in Florida while rushing in and trying to disarm the killer.

They stepped in two years after the school shooting that killed Chris and 16 others and made Debi and her two children’s lives a little brighter by, among other things, renovating her kitchen and installing long, floating shelves in several rooms. Debi placed photographs of Chris on those shelves.

Montel — no last name necessary for most people — lives by a simple creed that he learned in boot camp: “We leave no Marine behind,” he says. “I bought into the fact that once a Marine, always a Marine.”

TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City.
TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Montel was the first Black Marine selected to the Naval Academy Prep School to then go on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.

“In the nearly three decades since I retired from the Navy, I’ve never really taken the uniform off because standing up for those who are serving now—and those who have served—has been the greatest honor of my professional career,” he says,

Most recently, the husband and father of four joined The Balancing Act, also on Lifetime TV, as a co-host. Before that, he shot to stardom on The Montel Williams Show from 1991 to 2008, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Military Roots
There’s a lot of tinsel that goes with Hollywood fame, but beneath it are roots, and Montel’s are deep and resilient. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1974. He then graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980 with a degree in engineering and a minor in international security affairs.

Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

He completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training, and spent 18 months in Guam as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence. He was later a supervising cryptologic officer with the Naval Security Fleet Support Division at Fort Meade, Maryland. He left the Navy at the rank of lieutenant commander. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

As part of his work in cryptology, Montel teamed with the National Security Agency and was involved in the victory in Grenada in 1983. On several occasions, Montel has worked to get United States citizens — usually military personnel who have been captured in foreign lands — returned to America.

In the 1990s and early part of the 2000s, The Montel Williams Show was synonymous with excellence, empathy and intelligence. Some argue Montel is on the “Mt. Rushmore” of day-time talk show legends, alongside Oprah and others.

In 1999, after years of excruciating pain that, at times, had him crying during commercial breaks, Montel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was bad and good news all at once — bad because MS is painful and debilitating; good because he finally knew what was ailing him and could move forward with treatment.

More than two decades after his diagnosis, Montel lives an active, purposeful life. A fun one, too. One of his favorite activities is snowboarding, which he says helps his balance in day-to-day living.

A Healthy Balance

Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.
From left: Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.

Balance is what makes him a perfect fit for The Balancing Act, a morning show that empowers viewers to live balanced, healthy lives. Montel, who suffered a stroke in 2018, and just keeps going like the Eveready Battery, knows a thing or two about balance. If success is measured by how many people you’ve helped, Montel is rich beyond his monetary millions and accomplished far beyond his worldwide fame.
He goes back again and again to those values he learned in boot camp. Take the following episode of Military Makeover:

After Aaron and Holly Middleton met at a Columbus bar after graduating Ohio State University, it was love at first sight. Though unfamiliar with the rigors of military family life, Holly went all in, giving up her own career to find fulfillment as a mother. Aaron is now a major and senior communications officer serving at USMC Forces Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The family has faced overwhelming adversity. First, their newborn son, Kelvin, was diagnosed with holes in his lungs, requiring immediate surgeries. Then, unspeakable tragedy struck the family when the Middleton’s’ 5-year-old daughter Scarlett died from an undiagnosed illness.

Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”
From left: Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”

The shock and trauma of Scarlett’s passing has shaken the family to its core. Scarlett loved picking and giving away flowers, and her favorite song was, “You Are My Sunshine.” Through pain and inspiration, Holly promised to keep alive the joy Scarlett brought to everybody who knew her. The grieving mother created a charity called Scarlett’s Sunshine, using random acts of kindness with flowers to induce spontaneous smiles.

“Little did I know that when I gave people the flowers, and I saw the gratitude on their faces light up, that I would see Scarlett’s light again,” Holly says. “I found her light.” The Middletons’ home in St. Petersburg— the first they’ve owned since Aaron joined the Corps— needed a lot of help. Military Makeover worked to make it a place of healing and solace for this deserving military family.

As the cherry on top, the show donated a year’s worth of flowers to Scarlett’s Sunshine. “It feels like a miracle,” Holly said, when presented with the flowers. Which brought a smile to Montel’s face.

That’s the miracle of Montel’s life, which mirrors the lives of all U.S. veterans.

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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A group of black businesspeople having a meeting

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.

 

How We’re Surviving through the Pandemic

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A man working on his computer in an office while wearing a mask

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.

Avoiding Workplace Word Wars

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A napkin with conflict resolution solutions wrtten on it, sitting next to a cup of coffee

By Lorie Reichel-Howe
Founder, Conversations In The Workplace

If you work with people, it’s inevitable that you have felt the sting of cutting words, the stab of sarcasm and the sickening silence when a coworker is verbally attacked. When workplace word wars occur, people become casualties, relationships are strained, and morale plunges downward.

Unless people effectively and confidently respond to verbal outbursts, culture will erode, productivity will plummet, and attrition will skyrocket.

In my consulting work, I’ve observed that unaddressed behaviors become workplace norms. When hurtful behaviors are tolerated, people are dehumanized and verbal offenders multiply. On the flip side, organizations that prepare employees to effectively respond to workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs, establish a safe workplace culture.

Unfortunately, wanting to speak up when a verbal assault bomb is dropped doesn’t mean you know how to speak up, or even what to say so here are a few communication strategies you can implement. Instead of simply describing the strategies, I will demonstrate how to implement them in a workplace scenario where a frustrated employee, Jolene, blurts out a negative comment about the Help Desk department.

Scenario

Upon submitting a request for support from Help Desk, Jolene was informed that, due to complications with the new system software installation, that there will be a two-day delay in receiving technical support. Angry at the delay, Jolene blurted out:“The Help Desk department should be renamed the Helpless Department.”

Request clarification

In a calm and firm manner, ask Jolene to share what she meant by “renaming the Help Desk Department to the Helpless Department.” In taking a curious approach, you invite reflection of the meaning of one’s words. Asking questions prevents you from accusing, lecturing or judging the actions of others.

Acknowledge the needs or concerns of the other person

Acknowledging someone’s concern is a great diffuser. People commonly breathe a sigh of relief when their concern is recognized. When we feel angry or hurt and believe someone has crossed a line, our human tendency is to become defensive. Acknowledging the other person’s challenge is not instinctive. Even so, learning to acknowledge instead of telling someone what you think of their outburst, can become a patterned response with repeated practice. While acknowledging is not a solution to the problem, it opens up a dialogue where a solution could be explored. Rest assured, acknowledging someone’s concerns doesn’t mean you approve of their behavior, it simply means you understand what motivated their behavior or outburst.

Communicate positive wants (for everyone involved)

When people hear that you desire a positive outcome or solution to their problem, they see you as an advocate, not an enemy. It’s assuring to know someone cares about you even when you’ve acted impulsively or spoken inappropriately. It only takes a few seconds to communicate to Jolene that you want her to obtain the technical support needed to complete her work. Share that you want Help Desk to successfully implement a new system upgrade that improves everyone’s working experience and that you want other departments to support Help Desk in their improvement efforts. Lastly, include your desire for a positive work environment for everyone where concerns and needs are respectfully communicated.

Bring awareness of the impact of words and actions

To help Jolene understand the impact of her words, tell her that when you hear her say that the Help Desk Department should be renamed the Helpless Department, it comes across as an attack on a team within the organization. Share that negative comments like these, instead of unifying the organization, separate and divide. It only takes one match to ignite a fire and once negativity spreads, it’s hard to stop.”

Ask questions to spark brainstorming a solution

Successful communicators empower others by asking them questions. They avoid directing or dictating what others can or should do. Ask Jolene if there are technical support resources other than Help Desk. This moves her from attacking a department to finding another resource for technical support.

Get a commitment

To ensure that negative comments are not made in the future, ask Jolene to commit to discussing her concerns in the future without attacking a team or individual. Documenting Jolene’s agreement is helpful in case of a repeated offense. It takes discernment to know if a reminder is adequate, if an apology is appropriate or if consequences should be imposed.

If the behavior continues

If the behavior is repeated, reference the earlier commitment and identify that you are now holding an accountability conversation to address a behavior pattern. Make it clear that this is not a first-time offense – this person has a history. Pattern behaviors erode trust because they cause you to question whether a person has the ability to uphold their commitments.

Create safe and positive workplaces

It’s not enough to inform people of workplace policies, people need to know what to do when policies are violated and when employees become causalities of a toxic culture. Organizations that develop a positive and safe workplace understand that telling or expecting people to address negative behavior is as helpful as a medical diagnosis without a recovery plan. These organizations invest in training all employees, managers and teams in effectively addressing harmful workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs.

Lorie Reichel Howe is founder of Conversations in the Workplace. She leverages over 20 years of expertise in communication and relationship management. She equips managers, teams and business professionals to have “safe conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues. Whether issues are challenging team dynamics, mismanaged expectations or good old-fashioned bad behavior, “safe conversations” foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within organizations.

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Rihanna Joins ‘Forbes’ List Of America’s Richest Self-Made Women

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Rihanna on professional women's magazine cover wonder woman of the year.

Forbes has unleashed its list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women and there are plenty of recognizable names.

According to the outlet, the entire ranking of trailblazers are worth a collective $90 billion and have “have started or helped expand companies that do everything from build rockets to create snowboards to make Covid-19 tests.” At the top of the ranking is roofing entrepreneur Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply, one of the country’s largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows. She tops the list for the third year in a row with her empire, which reportedly exceeds $8 billion.

Meanwhile, Rihanna makes her first appearance on the list at the No. 33 spot, courtesy of her cross-genre ventures. In addition to her Fenty Beauty line, the pop titan also has her Savage x Fenty lingerie line, as well as her music ventures, racking up an estimated $600 million for her earnings across the board in 2019.

Among the other celebrity appearances include Kris Jenner, who nabbed her first entry at the No. 92 spot with a net worth of $190 million. Oprah Winfrey returns to this year’s ranking at the No. 9 spot with a net worth of $2.9 billion, while Kim Kardashian took the No. 24 spot with her net worth of $780 million and little sister Kylie Jenner took the No. 29 position with a net worth of $700 million. Lady Gaga and Jenniffer Lopez both snagged the No. 97 spot with their net worth of $150 million.

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Level Up: Joining a Professional Organization to Bolster Your Network

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A group of men shaking hands and networking

By: Stephanie Hughes, MPH, CHES

Featuring: Collin Mays, MPA

If I asked a room of 10 people what comes to mind when they hear the word “networking,” I would expect to get ten different answers.

The first thing that probably comes to mind is a room full of people with name tags, exchanging resumes, or business cards. Networking is the activity that we all know and love, or hate, that involves the exchange of information in either a personal or professional capacity. We build networks every day to find jobs, mentors, and friends. This exchange of information makes it possible to form long-lasting relationships and can provide opportunities that would not be present otherwise.

We have all heard the statement, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” I remember hearing it on many occasions in both my undergraduate and graduate career. Then, “why am I spending all of this time in school, if what I know doesn’t weigh all that much?” While knowledge and expertise are important for us to mold our careers, it isn’t the only factor. If I have learned anything throughout my professional experience, it is that having champions in your corner who know your character and what you stand for are more powerful than any line on your resume.

Collin Mays, a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), an organization committed to supporting professionals in the field of public administration, recounts his experience joining a professional organization committed to public service:

“I joined NFBPA because I believe in the overall mission. Often, black public administrators are not highlighted for their work. My goal is to help promote our profession and encourage the next generation of black public administrators. I realized that to pursue that, networking is essential to your career success. Of course, I encourage everyone to pursue as much education as possible. However, while education is the foundation of success, ultimately networking will help you land your next job and advance through your career. You never get anywhere if people don’t know you.”

I resonate very much with Collin’s statement. The National Forum for Black Public Administrators was my first real experience networking and building professional relationships. I never knew what it truly meant to network. I attended their Annual Forum as a scholarship recipient and truly had no idea what to expect. It was the first time in my life where I was surrounded by so many professionals who looked like me. And for some reason, they wanted to get to know the 19-year-old girl from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Throughout the conference, I met with people from all over the country that served in various capacities and spoke about my passion for public service. Conversations seemed to flow easily as such like-minded individuals surrounded me. Individuals I met have become mentors and friends as I pursue a career in healthcare and public service. In fact, this is true for many professionals as they recount the beginnings of their careers. It was at this moment when I realized the true importance of joining a professional organization.

“Young people, especially young people of color, should join as many professional organizations as possible. Not only will each organization enhance your knowledge of the profession, but each organization can produce lifelong friendships and professional relationships.”

If you are interested in a career in public administration or a related sector and would like to join a professional organization, please  consider contacting the NFBPA.

Click here to view the NFBPA websitethrough our website

Click here to explore programs for emerging leaders and young professionals.

The National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) is the nation’s principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of African American public leadership in local and state governments. NFBPA is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1983. With more than 2,500 members, NFBPA has established a national reputation for designing and implementing successful, quality leadership development initiatives.

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine

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