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.

 

11 Great Jobs That Offer Student Loan Forgiveness

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smiling black woman nurse with arms folded with stethoscope draped around neck area

By Kat Castagnoli

Did you know that 7 in 10 college students take out loans to pay for school? While it can take a long time to pay back student loan debt, there is a way to get your balance wiped out: by qualifying for a student loan forgiveness job.

If you work for a certain amount of time in a job with this option, you could get your student loan debt completely cancelled. While these types of jobs aren’t always the most high-paying, there’s often plenty of opportunity due to a shortage of workers to fill them. And what you might sacrifice in income, you could potentially make back with loan forgiveness after a few years.

Below is a list of 11 jobs that offer student loan forgiveness so you can decide if any would be a great fit for you:

  1. Federal agency employee

Here’s a little-known fact that applies to federal agencies: If they are having a hard time finding new employees to fill open slots, they are allowed to offer student loan repayment assistance. To qualify, the new employee must sign a contract to work for the federal agency for a minimum of three years. The agency is allowed to pay up to $10,000 per year per employee for federally insured loans, but the total assistance given cannot exceed $60,000 per person.

  1. Public service worker

If you work in a qualifying organization, such as a government agency or nonprofit, you could qualify for loan forgiveness. Full-time public service employees with Perkins loans can get full cancellation of their loans, as long as they haven’t consolidated them. Potentially eligible workers include family and child services employees, law enforcement and correctional officers and public defenders. Public servants with Direct loans (also known as Stafford loans) could pursue loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. PSLF is available to any worker in a government organization at any level, as well as tax-exempt organizations or for-profit organizations with a qualifying service.

  1. Doctor/physician

There are several options for doctors in need of student loan repayment help. The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a list of loan assistance programs for doctors by state. Additionally, medical professionals who serve in the military have access to forgiveness programs as well. For example, through the Navy Financial Assistance Program (FAP), medical residents receive an annual grant of $45,000 on top of residency income, which can be put toward medical school debt.

  1. Lawyer

In addition to public service forgiveness options targeted specifically at graduates working in law, there are some other sources of loan repayment help for lawyers. For instance, every spring, the Department of Justice opens up its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP) to help recruit and retain new talent. Justice Department employees must have at least $10,000 in federal student loans to qualify. For those who want to work as public defenders, the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program provides loan assistance of varying amounts, depending on where you live. In addition, there are dozens of programs for borrowers with law school debt.

  1. Automotive professionals

Any automotive aftermarket industry manufacturer who is an employee of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) can apply for the SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program. The SEMA program awarded $272,000 to 97 winners in 2019 in scholarships and loan forgiveness. To be eligible, you must have been a SEMA employee for at least a year, hold a degree or certificate of completion from a college or technical school and have graduated with at least a 2.5 GPA.

  1. Nurse

If you are a registered nurse, an “advanced practice registered nurse” (such as a nurse practitioner) or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) facility nurse, you may be eligible for student loan repayment assistance through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. The nurses chosen to receive assistance through this program will get 60 percent of their qualifying student loan balance forgiven, in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment. Also, qualifying participants may receive an additional 25 percent off their original loan balance if they complete a third year of service. Please note that in this program, the full loan award amount is taxable.

  1. Teacher

If you’re a special education teacher, teach in a low-income school district or work in an underemployed subject area or a teacher shortage area, you may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. If you qualify, you could receive up to $5,000 or $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending upon what subject matter you teach and your number of years of service. Note that to qualify, your student loan debt must be from federal direct loans or Stafford loans.

However, if you have Perkins student loans, you could be eligible for the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program, where you could potentially receive cancellation of up to 100 percent of your loans.

  1. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and other qualifying volunteer organizations

Did you know that certain volunteer organizations offer student loan forgiveness opportunities? Don’t let high student loan debt deter you from taking the opportunity to help others. Certain volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) all have student loan awards or repayment options. You can apply for these after you have completed your term of service with the organization.

  1. Dentist

Although dentists tend to make a high income — a median of $156,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — they also accrue a huge amount of debt before they start working. The American Dental Education Association found that the average dentist with student loans in the Class of 2019 left school owing a whopping $292,169. Luckily, there are some loan repayment assistance programs, or LRAPs, for dentists, such as the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program and Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program. Programs such as these offer significant loan assistance to dentists who work in qualifying areas or workplaces.

  1. Pharmacist

Like dentists, pharmacists take on a lot of education debt to earn their degrees. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, pharmacists in the Class of 2019 who borrowed student loans took on an average of $172,329 to finance their education. Here, too, assistance is available: Several national LRAPs provide financial help to health care providers, including pharmacists. Plus, some state programs, such as the California State Loan Repayment Program, will pay back all or a portion of your loans if you establish residency and practice in a qualifying area.

  1. Veterinarian

Not only could working with animals be a fulfilling career, but it could also help you get forgiveness for your student loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers $25,000 per year for three years in student loan repayment assistance to vets who work in underserved areas. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 44 percent of veterinarians in the Class of 2018 left school owing more than $200,000 in student loans, while the average debt for all graduates was $143,111.

Should you pursue jobs that offer student loan forgiveness?

Most student loan forgiveness jobs have strict requirements, contracts and a minimum term of employment to qualify for loan cancellation. Also, you have to be current on your student loan payments — your loans can’t be in default. But once you meet the requirements, you will receive debt repayment, cancellation or forgiveness. Giving just two or three years of your professional life to a qualifying job may be the answer to your student loan problems and the key to your financial freedom.

Groundbreaking Study of Black Business Owners in the Wine Industry Reveals the Immediate Need for Inclusion & Equity

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Flyer that states "uncorked and cultured". During National Black-Owned Business Month, The Terroir Noir: 2020 Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs uncovers business owners’ undeterred persistence and commitment to fostering change in the global wine industry

By Press Release, Advisor

Marketing professor and wine business researcher, Monique Bell, Ph.D., has released an inaugural study of Black wine entrepreneurs that captures survey data collected in the aftermath of the global pandemic and civil unrest in 2020. Survey participants, who represent a diverse spectrum of businesses and professional expertise, completed the online survey in late 2020 amidst pandemic-related losses and renewed civil rights and “buy Black” movements.

The Terroir Noir: 2020 Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs survey respondents answered multiple questions related to their motivations for wine entrepreneurship, experiences with racism and other challenges, perceptions of the wine industry’s inclusion efforts, business strategies and practices, and the impacts of COVID-19. Black-owned wineries account for less than 1 percent of all U.S. wineries, while Black people typically make up more than 10 percent of American wine consumers. A majority of survey participants (43%), which represent wineries and other wine businesses, report that financial capital is the primary business roadblock to their business. Bias/racism was cited by 20% as the number one challenge, in general, for Black wine businesses. Further, more than half of respondents (58%) are neutral or disagree that the wine industry is taking meaningful action to be more inclusive of underrepresented groups.

“I am grateful to the Black wine business community for welcoming me during a very trying time and sharing their valuable insights for this important study,” says Bell, who performed the research during a sabbatical at the Fresno State Craig School of Business and subsequently founded Wyne Belle Enterprises. “The opportunity to connect with wine entrepreneurs inspires me to pursue further research and has opened pathways to increase exposure to and awareness about underrepresented groups in traditionally exclusive industries.”

The survey is the first of its kind among trade reports and academic examinations, and it will be followed by studies of Black wine professionals and consumers, respectively. Bell and her California State University colleagues, including Liz Thach, Ph.D., M.W., of Sonoma State, are currently analyzing more than 40 in-depth interviews with Black wine entrepreneurs.

“In illuminating Black entrepreneurs in the wine industry, Dr. Bell has identified an important gap in the global wine industry and in our collective knowledge about wine entrepreneurship,” says Liz Thach, Distinguished Professor of Wine and Professor of Management, Sonoma State. “As a wine business educator, writer, and consultant, I’ve sought to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to the forefront, and the Terroir Noir study will help further the industry’s progress.”

It was through Bell’s research that she met Angela McCrae, founder of Uncorked & Cultured, and joined the media platform centered on wine, wellness, culture, and adventure as Chief of Cultural Insights and Partnerships. McCrae and Bell, both graduates of Morgan State University, launched the Sip Consciously Directory, a comprehensive resource of more than 100 Black entrepreneurs in the three-tier wine distribution chain. Importantly, the directory enhances Black visibility in the $70 billion wine industry where less than 1% of wineries are Black-owned. The evolving resource connects wine lovers with Black-owned brands, distributors, and retailers, and is complemented by the growing Sip Consciously YouTube video series.

“With knowledge there is power, so it’s important for Uncorked & Cultured to be a destination and resource for consumers and the greater wine industry to understand Black wine entrepreneurs exist and the challenges we face in the industry,’ says Angela McCrae. “We’re filling a void and creating solutions to connect, not just Black winemakers and entrepreneurs with consumers, but also with mainstream brands and major distributors for an opportunity to tap into a far too often overlooked demographic.”

Click here to read the full article on the Advisor.

Instagram adds “Black-owned” label option to business profiles

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A post on Stormi Steele's Canvas Beauty Brand's Instagram account. Steele raked in $20 million in revenue in 2020, and is on track to hit the same number for 2021.

By Randi Richardson, NBC News

Stormi Steele posted a video on her social media accounts in 2017 of how to use Black hair products she created herself with $800 of capital.

Her homegrown business, Canvas Beauty Brand, later brought in $435,000 in profits through a single $100 paid social media advertisement. Steele said even with this rapid progress, buyers were still asking the same question: Is this Black hair care brand Black-owned?

Instagram has been key to customers finding Black-owned businesses to support and Steele said it has been integral to her business’s growth. And now the platform is strengthening that relationship between customers and Black-owned businesses.

Instagram announced Wednesday its new “Black-owned” label that U.S.-based businesses like Canvas Beauty can add to their profiles. The company and Steele said the label will make it easier to find Black-owned businesses.

“People still ask, ‘Is this Black-owned?’ I think it’ll get rid of that question and it’ll make our consumer, the woman and the person that we market to, trust us,” Steele said. “It helps us to not have to continuously reiterate we’re Black-owned, because that’s the difference between the conversion or not, most of the time, especially to the customer who wants to know that answer.”

Business accounts can select to display the “Black-owned business” label in their bios, and may be included on the Shops page.

Instagram does not have concrete numbers regarding how many businesses are expected to enable this feature. But more than 1.3 million Instagram posts included “Black-owned” or “Black-led” during the height of the racial reckoning in summer 2020 and through the fall. And the number of U.S.-based businesses that listed these labels in their profiles increased by 50 percent during that same period.

“There was a lot of tragedy happening in the Black community,” said Rachel Brooks, a product manager at Instagram on the equity team who worked on developing the label. “On top of that, there was a global pandemic raging, and a lot of challenges particularly with Black-owned businesses being able to stay open, maintain livelihoods, those sorts of things. And so what we saw is the community really rallied around Black-owned businesses somewhat naturally and organically by using #BuyBlack and all sorts of other ways of amplifying Black-owned businesses.”

That rallying prompted Instagram to develop an official label to support this specific interest, adding structure and making it easier for users to search for businesses, she said.

“When you see a profile, you know where the name is, you know where you can find the post, you know where you can find the stories or whatever it might be,” Brooks said. The idea is to create a standard so that people know how to consistently find the information. Otherwise, people are kind of fishing for this information.”

Brooks said the label will not contribute to what information the algorithm takes into account. But subsequent engagement with related accounts will do so. Instagram’s algorithm considers what type of content users previously liked, viewed or shared and uses that pattern, among other things, to present personalized content to users, then-director of product management Julian Gutman told TechCrunch in 2018. So accounts keeping tabs on Black-owned businesses are more likely to see them in their feed, giving the businesses more exposure and potentially increasing their revenues.

Steele raked in $20 million in revenue in 2020, and is on track to hit the same number for 2021. The first video she put money behind became a viral video and effectively launched Canvas Beauty. Since then, she’s used paid and unpaid advertisements on Instagram and other social media sites, she said.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

5 Minutes With MDee Beauty’s Deidra Smith

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Diedre Smith of MDee BEauty looking strong and wearing tee-shirt with company name across it

We often think of inclusion as only existing within professional or social circles, forgetting that it must also go a step further. In that spirit, the Black EOE Journal spent five minutes with Deidra Smith of MDee Beauty, a makeup company that is passionate about diversity without giving up on quality.

Black EOE Journal (BEOEJ): Where did your inspiration for MDee Beauty come from and what makes it stand out from the crowd?

Deidra Smith (DS): As a child I used to watch my mother put on her makeup, I dreamed of the day when I could do the same. From there my passion for skin care and the way I look took on a whole new meaning. It was more than just the way it made me feel, it was who I became once I became an adult. Skin care, the importance of lipstick all touched parts of me and what I deemed important. It was from that background the inspiration for MDee Beauty was born. I have used many products, never finding one with sustainability. There were many that became my favorite until later finding out that something in the formula had changed to make it no longer fit my needs. So, it was then that I started researching and later developing a formula that fit not only my needs but also that of other women who felt the same as me.

What makes us stand out from the crowd is basically the love that we put into the products. We have addressed issues of sustainability and longevity. Our ingredients are natural and good for the health of your lips. To enhance the lip care, we have subtle and bold colors that make this the perfect product that women who feel the same as I do, would want to consider.

BEOEJ: You’ve shared your views previously on the import of diversity and inclusion reform in the workforce. Why should businesses and business owners want to consider diversity, equity and inclusion when thinking in terms of their workforce, supply chain or mastermind group?

DS: I’ve been on both sides of this question as an employee and employer. I have been overlooked as a female and as a black female. I’ve been made to think that my ideas and what I had to say didn’t matter. It was kind of like when they tell kids, just be seen and not heard. Everyone’s voice needs and should be heard especially in the workforce on your team. Everyone’s background, experience and culture creates a product of inclusiveness, not only in the office but also for the market we are trying to reach. As the employer, I know that I don’t know everything, that’s why I surround myself with motivated, opinionated and diversity in thought. If you continue to do things the way they were done in the past, how do we get to the future?

BEOEJ: What can entrepreneurs or solopreneurs do to be a part of the change?

DS: Listen to the ideas of all. Decisions on what ethic groups like and don’t like can’t be made without those ethic groups being part of the conversation. Get it right the first time with inclusion of thought.

BEOEJ: Why, is not only the quality of your products, but also their sustainability, important to your company? What does sustainability mean to you as a business owner?

DS: There’s lot of good products out there but most don’t last. As women when we leave our homes, we want to look good all day. Looking and feeling a certain way we should expect it to last all day, maybe with a little touch up. We want you to be confident that your look can last all day. We did that. Our product is built on healthiness, vibrant colors and sustainability. It is our goal to keep you looking good all day long. Sustainability means that I stand behind my products. If you read the reviews MDee Beauty should be a staple in your beauty regimen. With the glowing reviews we have received thus far, it is evident that our company has sustainably, as the MDee Beauty roots continue to grow in the cosmetic industry. My goal is to continue to provide a quality product that people will purchase without reservation.

To learn more about Deidre and MDee Beauty, you can visit their website at mdeebeauty.com.

Photo Credit: Anthony Sealey

Black tech entrepreneurs get $1 million boost from Pharrell Williams

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Pharrell Williams in a gray hat and army jacket shirt

By Adrienne Broaddus, CNN

Entrepreneur Justin Turk knew his start-up was special, but a $1 million prize from Grammy award-winning singer and producer Pharrell Williams came as a shock.

On Tuesday, Williams announced the winners of his Black Ambition prize competition — and Turk and his business partner, Andre Davis, are in the national spotlight.

Williams’ non-profit was founded in December to help Black and Latino business owners close the wealth gap through entrepreneurship.

Turk and Davis, co-founders of Livegistics, took home the top prize of $1 million. The Detroit-based entrepreneurs run a cloud-based material management software company, which eliminates paperwork in heavy civil construction and demolition. The company also provides data and metrics that construction experts can use for efficiency.

Livegistics is also helping the environment through the elimination of tons of paper each year and helps local communities accelerate the elimination of blight in urban cities and neighborhoods.

“We knew we had something special, but you don’t go in thinking you will walk away with $1 million. But when it happens you are like, ‘Wow, we just won $1 million,” Turk said.

But the 40-year-old said he never knew joy and pain could co-exist simultaneously.

Success can be bittersweet
On the day he learned his tech start-up won the grand prize, his father-in-law died before he could share the news.

“All in 24 hours, it was the greatest and worst moments tied together forever. There we were with the our biggest business success to date along with the worst day of our lives all in 24 hours,” Turk said. “It is weird. Sometimes I feel guilty for being so happy about what’s going on, but I know he would have been excited.”

Turk, who co-founded the business three years ago with Davis, said that hours after he learned about winning he watched a team of health care professionals try to revive his wife’s father, whom he admired. He was a veteran who loved architecture. And they shared the same passion for construction.

Instead of hosting a celebration party for friends and family, Turk said he will bury his father-in-law in a private ceremony Saturday.

“He would have been enamored with what’s going on. If he would have been able to see all of this, it would have just blown him away,” Turk said. “He would walk around the city of Detroit and look at buildings on his own. This would have just made his decade.”

More like brothers
Turk’s and Davis’ friendship goes back decades. The two met in elementary school when they were 5 years old, Davis said. Then, they were college roommates at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Davis, the chief financial officer, said it was never a goal to become business partners but it made sense.

“He’s been in just about every special moment in my life,” Davis said. “Not only are we solving the single most significant reason construction companies go out of business (cash flow), we’re doing so in a manner that creates less work and makes the lives of our customers easier to manage.”

Davis, 41, said he worked at Financial One as an outsourced CFO to clients in the Metro Detroit area. He started and operated his own accounting and financial services practice for 10 years, managing to keep one foot in the non-profit sector to give back. He wants to encourage other Black and minority entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses to take the leap of faith.

“A thought today, backed by effort today, is one step closer to your dream tomorrow. Justin is brilliant. His background is the foundation for what I forsee as a unicorn in the making,” Davis said. “A third generation business owner, minority-owned, who understands all facets of large construction projects at an expert level…who also has a degree in computer science to speak tech geek language! You don’t find a Justin Turk walking around every day.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

From ‘Watchmen’ to ‘Blade’: Meet the First Black Woman to Write a Marvel Film

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Stacy Osei-Kuffour attends Premiere Of HBO’s “Watchmen” at The Cinerama Dome for Marvel

By Jasmine Alyce, Atlanta Black Star

Marvel‘s upcoming “Blade” reboot has tapped playwright Stacy Osei-Kuffour as the film’s head writer, making her the first Black woman to pen a Marvel movie.

Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will star in the film as the half-human, half-vampire vigilante, a role originated by Wesley Snipes in the late ’90s/early 2000s film trilogy, and was reportedly heavily involved in the “meticulous” six-month-long search for the talent that would craft the story that led to Osei-Kuffour.

The studio’s search centered around finding a Black writer for the film and Osei-Kuffour gained their and Ali’s attention following her successful involvement in HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Watchmen,” on which she served as story editor and writer. In 2019, she earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding writer in a comedy series for her work on Hulu’s “Pen15.” Additional writing credits for her include Amazon’s “Hunters,” and the HBO series “Run.”

In late 2020, it was announced that “Candyman” director Nia DaCosta signed on to helm “Captain Marvel 2,” making her the studios’ first Black woman director. Marvel Studios President and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige has previously expressed hopes that the diversity in front of and behind the screens during the next phase of Marvel films will eventually “become the norm.”

“We’re lucky that we have the comics to guide us. They have been relatively progressive over the decades for their time,” he told Variety in March. “The character lineup allows us — we’re not creating full-cloth any of our characters, they’ve been in the comics for years — and we’re finally able to tell those stories. Looking at the remarkably positive experiences we’ve had making sure that the room where it happens is not a room full of people that all look the same. When that’s not the case, when there are people from various backgrounds and genders, stories are better. Being at a company for 20 years and having released 23 movies, it is always been ‘How do you keep things fresh and surprising on a story level?’ “

He continued, “When you’re doing a story about a female lawyer who is giant and green [“She -Hulk], or a Muslim teenager with superpowers in Jersey City [“Ms. Marvel”], or working with filmmakers and writers of color as we are — it’s so prevalent and so much a part of who we are and what we do now, that it doesn’t seem abnormal. It’s no longer a headline. A woman is directing something! Wow! I hope this will become the norm to the extent that this is no longer a rarity.”

Click here to read the full article on Atlanta Black Star.

4 Tips to Nail a Virtual Job Interview

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recruiter holding cv having online virtual job interview meeting with black male candidate on video call

by Ben Laker, Will Godley, Selin Kudret and Rita Trehan

If you’re job hunting right now, chances are you’re also interviewing remotely. There are some serious upsides to this. You can avoid tardiness (no traffic snarls), reference notes without being too obvious and if you’re located in a rural area, you now have access to the same opportunities as city dwellers, saving you money.

There are also downsides. Combined with technical problems — like forgetting you’re unmuted or having a cat filter stuck on your face — virtual interviews can go horribly wrong.

Through our latest research on remote hiring, we wanted to know, given these pros and cons, how can job candidates really stand out during the virtual interview process?

Here are four practices you can use to turn your next virtual interview into a job offer.

1) Set up your space.

  • Have a clean, uncluttered background: Our advice here is not for you to start rearranging your entire room. Just find a spot that is simple and free of distractions. You can even choose a simple virtual background instead of propping yourself in front of a messy bookshelf. Contrary to previous research, we found that unconscious biases were less likely to creep into the decision-making process when candidates had a clean backdrop. 97 percent of the recruiters we spoke to preferred virtual backgrounds of office settings over beaches, mountains or outer space.

2) Prepare for the unexpected.

  • Keep notes handy, but don’t refer to them too often: During job interviews, it’s standard for recruiters to ask candidates for examples of their most impactful work. Don’t let this unnerve you in the moment. Create a printout or Word document of notes with crisp bullet points highlighting a few projects you want to share. Sort your projects under two or three headers: accomplishments, research and volunteer work.

We suggest no more than one page of notes. The goal is to refer to your notes minimally.

3) Rehearse.

  • Use hand gestures: In our study, 89 percent of successful candidates used wide hand gestures for big and exciting points, while moving their hands closer to their heart when sharing personal reflections. Your body language can impact what you’re saying and how you come across. Our research also found that you can connect to your interviewer just by keeping an open posture and remembering not to cross your arms. Look into your webcam, not at your reflection. We recommend framing yourself in a way where you’re not too far from the camera (we suggest no more than two feet). Make sure your head and top of your shoulders dominate the screen, and as you’ve heard before, look into the camera when you speak.

4) Don’t perform a monologue; spark conversations.

  • Ask questions: There’s always an opportunity to ask questions about the office and the culture in an interview, but when you interview remotely, you’re going to be left with more questions than usual. Whatever you want to know, ask. Don’t worry about looking silly. The recruiter will appreciate your curiosity.

We suggest asking questions about the kind of technology you’ll have access to when working remotely, if you’d be working in a hybrid team or how success is measured at the organization. 85 percent of successful candidates asked these kinds of questions to demonstrate their values and priorities, while revealing vital bits of information about their personality. For example, you could ask, “Do you have a flexible work policy?” Then bookend your question with, “I’ve been volunteering as an English teacher for marginalized communities twice a week, and it would be great to be able to continue doing that.”

For better or worse, remote hiring is here to stay. While there are many unrivaled benefits to this, you need to do your bit to ace this relatively new process. Remember, trousers are optional, outstanding delivery is not.

Source: Harvard Business Review

I am a Black female CEO, and this is how I redefined the white men’s club in tech

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CEO stock photo of two people walking on top of blue glass

BY Danielle Rose, Fast Company

Growing up in East Oakland, I personally experienced the diverse realities of the divide between the wealthy and poor, and the ricocheting effects of violence and substance abuse. My mother was the only one to graduate from college in her family and she understood the importance of education and the doors it could open.

Her determination to ensure that regardless of our socio-economic circumstances combined with the promise I showed in math and science meant that I was able to attend an affluent private boarding school at the base of Mount Diablo in California on scholarship. This is where, for the first time, I often found myself to be the only Black person in a classroom. I was isolated emotionally and physically, living in one of the wealthiest communities in the country, worlds apart from my humble Oakland beginnings.

Despite my ability to perform academically, my continued attendance at my new school was repeatedly threatened because I questioned the school administration’s exclusionary and invisibilizing practices towards students of color. Nevertheless, I thrived and I graduated. I was accepted in and awarded scholarships from 12 of the top engineering programs in the nation.

My story isn’t unique, but in many ways, it’s not nearly common enough. Education, particularly in STEM subjects, has historically been unwelcoming to young people of color. And for those passionate about STEM, there are countless hurdles including loneliness, doubt, sexism, and racism to name a few. So let’s talk about it.

EVERY EXPERIENCE IS NOT ALL GOOD OR BAD, SO KEEP LEARNING
Being Black, a woman, and an engineer I found myself shadowed by skepticism in every space I occupied from high school to the present day. In meetings, my managers would not make eye contact with me when I spoke. My ideas seemed to land only when regurgitated by white male counterparts. My white male managers questioned whether I was paid too much because they thought my clothes were too fashionable. A senior executive told me that I seemed to be a better fit working at “one of those fancy boutiques on Rodeo Drive.” With two Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering and a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the third top engineering school in the country, I cannot say I ever contemplated working at Gucci. All of these slights told me I didn’t belong as I was, the authentic and costume-free me.

The micro and macro aggressions I experienced, while staggering and hurtful, only made me more reflective and self-aware. The times when people who looked like me and tried to minimize me, were especially informative. I used those painful interactions with people who I assumed would understand my experience as a way to deconstruct my own biases and become a stronger ally and advocate for others.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN YOU
From my early education and into my career, I was often the only Black person in a host of STEM education programs and it was lonely. I quickly grew to understand how easy it can be to look for the exit and self-opt out of spaces where you don’t see yourself represented.

Spelman College graduate Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” It is no coincidence that it was during my undergraduate studies at Spelman College that I realized the power of representation coupled with social and emotional support when it came to success.

CREATE NETWORKS OF PEERS, MENTORS, AND MENTEES
The importance of this can’t be understated. Who you know, and who you surround yourself with will have an incredible impact on how you envision your future and realize your maximum potential. Connect and enlist a team of people who can see you, especially when you cannot see yourself, and who are authentically committed to your success and want to support you along your journey. You need people who will nurture your spirit, remind you of how you have grown, and of your superpowers during the inevitable storms of life. You need people who will shout with joy and applaud the loudest when you win because your wins are their wins.

LEVERAGE PERCEIVED EXCEPTIONALISM RATHER THAN INTERNALIZE IT
Ursula Burns, the first Black woman to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Xerox), writes about how there was a pattern where her colleagues would reconcile her success as a Black woman by elevating her to an “exceptional status.” They viewed her as incredibly gifted, instead of any other talented and hardworking Black person.

I lived this early on in my career. As an “only” or one of a few Black women in my engineering classes at Georgia Tech, the labs at NASA, the meetings at BP, and countless other spaces, I became the unicorn in the room. My achievements became my last name. When I was introduced it was, “This is Danielle. She has degrees from… She’s worked at…” Folks thought they were being complimentary, but instead, it felt “othering.”

What were considered rare accomplishments for someone who looked like me became the buoys that I grabbed hold of when I found myself in spaces that were not welcoming or generative to my professional development. I used the perceived exceptionalism to access roles and responsibilities that would otherwise have been considered uncustomary or too high-risk for someone with my academic and professional background. I successfully pivoted from engineering to working on a trade floor, to retail and marketing—all for the same company.

Click here to read the full article on Fast Company.

How this 28-year-old’s pandemic cookie business became a celebrity favorite

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ABC News' John Quinones talks about California coming back in business

, Good Morning America

When Lara Adekoya started baking cookies at the start of the pandemic, she never anticipated that a year later, celebrities like Issa Rae, Jenna Dewan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Melissa Benoist and Lena Waithe would be lining up to order from her Los Angeles business, Fleurs et Sel.“What I’m doing is reaching beyond just the backyard,” Adekoya, 28, told “Good Morning America.” “It’s refreshing to have their support, because these are people that now know who I am, and they know that I make really great cookies.”

Her Hollywood clientele isn’t just limited to celebrities either. The business owner has catered to Amazon Studios, A24, the Oprah Winfrey Network, HBO’s “Insecure” set and, most recently, National Geographic. But even though Fleurs et Sel has quickly risen as a business that’s only a year old, its success is anything but a fluke — Adekoya said she hustled to make a name for herself.

“I’m customer-obsessed and social media-driven, and I use those skills to create community through my cookies,” the baker of Nigerian and Japanese descent said. “I hope that my voice transcends communities and transcends different cultural groups so people know that we, as young Black women, we are capable of doing so many things.”

Adekoya’s venture started when she was laid off during the pandemic as a designer shoes salesperson at Nordstrom. Like many Americans, the pandemic prompted her to reimagine her career goals. According to a survey by Prudential, 50% of workers admitted that the pandemic made them rethink their careers, and another study by Microsoft found that 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year.

Despite the career change, Adekoya said her job at Nordstrom was invaluable to the success of Fleurs et Sel because of the work values and connections she built there.

“The key to me working in designer shoes was building relationships, because in order to be successful, my work was strictly commission driven, so it was up to me to make money — I wasn’t going to be there and not hustle,” she said.

Two important relationships she cultivated there were with female entrepreneurs Aderiaun Shorter and event planner Mindy Weiss, the latter who is known in Hollywood for throwing lavish parties for the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Ciara and many others. When Adekoya started sharing her baking hobby on social media, her two former Nordstrom clients were the first to buy cookies and promote her. That’s when her idea for Fleurs et Sel really kicked off.

“I got a new entire following, and I was introduced to a new crowd that I would have never otherwise been exposed to,” Adekoya said. “Aderiaun and Mindy are both self-made women entrepreneurs, and they were both instrumental in mentoring me as a woman entrepreneur in this new space.”

The women’s support helped leverage Adekoya’s presence on social media, which in turn exposed her to high-end clientele. Adekoya credits community word-of-mouth and digital promotion for the social media craze of Fleurs et Sel.

Click here to read the full article on Good Morning America.

Pharrell joins Chanel to launch mentorship program for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs

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Pharrell standing in a vintage mickey mouse shirt smiling away from the camera

By 

Pharrell Williams is helping Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with his latest initiative. The two-part program — a collaboration between Chanel and his Black Ambition nonprofit organization — will specifically work toward providing emerging businessmen with “access to knowledge, insights and opportunities from industry-leading experts,” per The Hollywood Reporter.

In part one of the initiative, which is titled “Women Who Lead,” Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief, Samira Nasr, moderated a panel that saw Tracee Ellis Ross, Medley co-founder Edith Cooper, Good American CEO Emma Grede and Natalie Massenet, who is the co-founder and partner of Imaginary Ventures, discuss resilience and determination, the importance of clarity of vision and more.

The second part of the program is a series of mentorship workshops. Members will have access to Chanel’s network of experts, who will teach them about the process of launching and sustaining a brand among other things.

“Chanel’s support of Black Ambition is a cornerstone of Black Ambition’s mission and is vital to the success of the next generation of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs,” said Williams. He also noted the brand’s “commitment to investing in human potential and advancing greater representation in culture and society.”

”You may have a great business idea, but that doesn’t mean you know how to run a business,” he added in a statement to Vanity Fair.

“Even when you have a great business plan, you might not find the right operators. [The mentorship program] teaches you all of those things. Success really does have a lot of authors. Usually when you say, ‘Success has a lot of authors,’ it’s a dig at people who didn’t do something but are taking the credit. In this particular sense, when it comes to running a business, success does have a lot of authors — there are a lot of signatures needed to cosign to get a brand new idea off the ground.”

Click here to read the full article on Revolt.

Covid-19 decimated Black women-owned businesses — Ayesha Curry wants to change that

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Ayesha Curry signs books at Goya Foods' Grand Tasting Village Featuring Mastercard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid Culinary Demonstrations in Miami Beach, Fla., on Feb. 25, 2017.

By Alexi McCammond, NBC News

Ayesha Curry has a long list of accomplishments: actress, author and cooking television personality. And now she has her sights set even higher: helping one million Black women business owners. Curry joined the board of Goldman Sachs’ “One Million Black Women” initiative, which will invest $10 billion in Black women-owned businesses and owners over the next 10 years. She has also hosted listening sessions with Black women business owners in the restaurant industry.

The goal? To help Black women business owners in various industries gain greater access to capital and have the tools to ensure their businesses survive past the pandemic.

“The pandemic … shattered the restaurant industry in general,” Curry told Know Your Value. “… Access to capital, especially right now, was so necessary and so important to not only keep these places afloat, but to … find that growth that we’re all looking for.”

Other prominent Black women, including senior advisor to former President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are on the project’s advisory council.

In many instances, Black-owned and Black women-owned businesses were growing exponentially before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Black women were launching new businesses at greater rates than any other demographic between 2014 and 2019, according to American Express’s annual “State of women-owned businesses” report.

In that same timeframe, the number of female-owned businesses overall grew by 21 percent, but Black women-owned businesses grew by 50 percent according to the report.

And now in the aftermath of Covid-19, its many of these businesses that are trying to stay afloat. After all, Black entrepreneurs are typically over-represented in industries most affected by the pandemic, including the food, retail, and personal care industries.

Curry said joining this initiative is personal for her.

“I watched my mom build up her hair salon — she was a stylist for 40 years, a small business owner — and so I’ve seen that work ethic, and that strength behind that and it’s something that I’ve carried with me through my own career,” Curry said.

She’ll be supporting Black women in the restaurant industry in the greater Oakland, Calif., area with a focus on helping those women promote food security and have greater access to capital. She’ll be working alongside women like chef Reign Free, who owns Red Door Catering in Oakland and recently launched the Black Culinary Collective, to help fellow Black entrepreneurs, too.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

J.P. Morgan Creates Scholarship Program for Black College Students

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Jp Morgan building with sign. JP morgan is creating scholarships for black college students.

By Jeff Berman, Think Advisor

In the latest J.P. Morgan diversity and equity initiative, the firm has teamed with the United Negro College Fund to create the J.P. Morgan Wealth Management HBCU Scholarship Program. The initiative is part of the $30 billion Path Forward commitment to advance racial equity that JPMorgan Chase announced Oct. 8. Building on that commitment, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management said in March it set a goal to hire 300 more Black and Latino advisors by 2025.

The new scholarship program invests in students at historically Black colleges and universities who are interested in careers in financial planning “early on and creates a path for their long-term career success, strengthening the pipeline of diverse talent” for JPMWM, the firm and UNCF said in a joint announcement Monday. The program will provide scholarships and mentorships to students attending one of 11 HBCUs across the U.S. and help them develop the skills they need to grow a career as a financial advisor, they said.

JPMWM will award 75 scholarships annually over the next five years. Students receiving the scholarships will have the opportunity to participate in two summer experiences: the Advancing Black Pathways Fellowship Program and the first-of-its-kind J.P. Morgan Wealth Management Service Center Internship. After completing the internship program, students will also be eligible for another scholarship to be applied to their senior year.

“We’re committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, and that begins by investing in students early on and creating a path for their long-term career success,” according to Christopher Thompson, head of Diverse Advisor Experiences at JPMWM. “We look forward to unlocking an enormous talent potential while boosting interest in a career as a financial advisor, which has excellent growth potential,” he said in a statement.

Click here to read the full article on Think Advisor.

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