Certifications: A Power Tool for Career Advancement

LinkedIn
black woman holding an award certification

Want to improve the impression you make in your job search or advance in your current job? Earning one or more professional certifications demonstrates your subject matter knowledge and skill, as well as your motivation to add a credential to your qualifications.

What are certifications?

A certification is a nationally recognized award that shows you have specific skills or knowledge in an occupation, industry or technology. To earn a certification, you usually have to pass a test or demonstrate a skill.

Certifications are sponsored by professional associations, product manufacturers, corporations, unions and others. Training to pass a certification test is often available at community or technical colleges, or from the organization that offers the particular certification exam.

Many certifications must be renewed on a time-specified basis by earning continuing education credits or keeping up to date on advancements in the subject area. Some product-related certifications, which are common in technology fields, may lose value when the related product is no longer widely used –– so it’s always a good idea to keep your certifications updated.

Certifications are more commonly earned or required in certain occupations and industries, particularly in information technology, accommodation and food service, finance, construction, health care and social assistance.

What are the benefits of certifications?

There are several key benefits to earning a certification:

  • It’s portable.Having a certification is widely accepted as proof that the individual holding it has particular skills and knowledge, so it’s considered “portable”— when you earn one, you take it with you to other jobs — and it can translate across occupations, industries and geographical locations.
  • It may be required for the job.Employers in some fields require candidates to have certifications before they even apply for a job, or that they are willing to obtain them immediately upon being hired.
  • It gives you an edge.A certification can also be seen as a marketing tool that gives you an extra edge over other job seekers who may meet the requisite qualifications for a job but haven’t gone above and beyond the essentials.
  • It can provide a professional development goal.To pass a certification test requires that you develop the specified knowledge and/or the technical or professional skill. Earning one certification, or a series of them, can serve as a goal to work toward in your professional development.

How to get started?

As a first step, you can look up certifications that fit your career goals using CareerOneStop’s Certification Finder. You can start your search based on the name of an occupation, industry or a specific skill or technology. If you know the occupation’s O*NET code, or the industry’s NAICs code number, you also use those as search terms, or you can just browse a list of occupations or industries to start your search.

Once you click “Search,” you’ll see a list of certifications that match your search term. There are filters to narrow your results for related industries, types of certifications, and organization names.

What are some certifications that are popular with employers?

Project Management Professional

Certified Fundraising Executive

Group Exercise Instructor

Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Certified Business Analysis Professional

Certified Respiratory Therapist

Patient Care Technician

Certified Quality Auditor

From your results, you will be able to visit an association’s website by just clicking the link in the URL column. Certifications marked with a chili pepper indicate those that are frequently mentioned in online job postings. For more information on professional certifications, visit CareerOneStop.org.

Source: CareerOneStop

It’s About Making Us Feel Seen: How 3 Brand Founders Are Making Space For Black Women

LinkedIn
Three black women brand founders headshots

By Natasha Marsh, Refinery 29

In the wake of social unrest in 2020, as the country reckoned head-to-head with its stance and role in racism, many companies released blanket statements professing their solidarity with Black people, most of which lacked emotion and felt more like a sink-or-swim tactic. Brands who declared to suddenly be woke were met with skepticism and the unanimous knowing that for years, their inaction reflected their failure to support the Black community both personally and professionally. History has shown that the system was never built to nurture Black-founded companies the way it has their white counterparts, making it nearly impossible for these brands to prosper and, in many cases, preventing them from ever getting off the ground.

But with more and more companies beginning to take inventory of their blind spots and part in systemic racism, this is starting to change. In fact, according to a 2021 survey by The Harvard Business Review and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 17% of Black women are in the process of starting or running new businesses, compared to the 10% of white women and 15% of white men. Indeed, Black women-owned businesses are on the rise, which may be because we’ve finally been given more access to the resources and capital to properly sustain them.

The rise of brand incubators and mentorship programs has certainly helped pave the way. Working to meet the growing needs of entrepreneurs who weren’t traditionally given a seat at the table, they help equip small businesses owners with the tools and support they need for success. By passing the mic to Black women, they give us the space to build community, empower one another, and, in part, inspire the next set of young Black entrepreneurs-to-be.

Ahead, get to know the founders of three Black-women-owned businesses in  program and how they’re using their platforms to inspire Black women to be their most authentic selves and forge their own paths.

Malisa Parke of Swanky Designs

Founded by creative mother-daughter duo Malisa and Imani Parke, Swanky Designs is handcrafted jewelry, apparel, and home goods brand, most known for its bold and colorful statement earrings. Sharing a deep love of art and fashion, the pair have channeled this passion into creating pieces of wearable art that speak to women’s individuality.

More so than anything, the Parkes believes in lifting women up and creating collections that complement that. “My goal is to empower other women to live their authentic lives, to not be afraid of standing out,” says Malisa. Rather than follow the ever-changing trend cycle, they aim to stay true to themselves, drawing inspiration from both the world around them and their roots. “We’re from New York, so we’re always in the city, looking at things like shapes and buildings,” Malisa explains. “We’re also very much into African-inspired jewelry, but with a twist, and we’d like to continue digging deeper into that.”

Ahead, Refinery29 spoke with Malisa about her creative relationship with her daughter, how it’s shaped their brand journey, and why we all should be our own trendsetters. 

You run your brand with your daughter, Imani. What inspired you to go into business together?
“We both have the creative gene. Imani has always been a super creative person. She started designing clothing at 14, while I used to sell jewelry at different vendor shows. One day I said to myself, You know what? I can do this myself. I prefer my own creativity, and Imani told me she wanted to do the same. Our creative juices flowed so well together that I suggested we do it as a team, and that’s pretty much how it was born.”

What lessons have you taught each other throughout your brand journey? How has your business strengthened your mother-daughter relationship?
“Imani teaches me a lot. Because she’s younger, she keeps me very fresh, but she also allows me to make mistakes. She’s teaching me not to be so constrained and to be freer. At this point in her life, I’m guiding her through it and helping her learn to [navigate it]. Being in business together strengthens our relationship in some ways, but she’s my daughter, so we butt heads a lot. When you’re in business with anyone, you’re going to clash; it can be tough, but then I’m reminded of the importance of our relationship”

In what ways do you use your brand to uplift and empower Black women?
“I hope to influence Black women to know they can do this, too, and that there’s room for everyone in jewelry making, no matter what medium you’re using. Age shouldn’t stop you from doing anything, know you can do it whenever you want. I also don’t think we should be so concerned about following fashion trends; we should be our own trendsetters. You shouldn’t have to worry about buying or being the latest — just do you. It’s a constant learning experience — we ask ourselves: How can we get better? What’s going to be the best for us?”

What advice do you have for young Black entrepreneurs?
“Read, learn, and get a mentor. Don’t just jump into it and expect things to happen because you’ll be quickly disappointed that it doesn’t happen that way. If you’re an entrepreneur, what you do is your passion, and it comes naturally to you. But you also need to read about the business side of things. Understanding capital, loans, taxes, and manufacturing; are things you have to know. Talk to people who are doing it and be open to accepting help.”

Dr. Anne Beal of AbsoluteJOI

For many Black consumers, the desire to take better care of our skin has been hindered by the fact that we’ve been long ignored by mainstream beauty brands. This makes it taxing to source products to effectively combat the most common concerns of melanated skin, like hyperpigmentation and dark spots. So was the case with physician Dr. Anne Beal, who launched AbsoluteJOI after struggling to find products that worked both for her and her daughters. Her research led her to discover that 70% of women of color believe the products currently available don’t work for them, so she developed her own, tailored to women over the age of 35 seeking to address signs of aging.

“There are so many products available that address aging, but people with melanin-rich skin don’t show aging with fine lines and wrinkles,” Dr. Beal says. “Instead, we start to show age with changes in skin tone and dark marks.” Fusing scientifically based active ingredients and soothing botanicals, AbsoluteJOI products focus on balancing and nourishing the complexion while reducing the damage caused by aging and hyperpigmentation. Rather than offer a dizzying array of products, Dr. Beal took a minimalist approach by launching a tight edit of cleanly formulated necessities, such as a tinted daily SPF moisturizer and a retinol-powered, tone-evening night oil.

Ahead, Refinery29 spoke with Dr. Beal about how she uses her brand and platform to make Black women feel more seen, plus the skin-care advice every woman of color should follow. 

When it comes to caring for skin of color, what are some of the most common misconceptions?
“Historically, there have been a lot of recommendations for products and home remedies, including everything from lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to using bleach — both medicinal like hydroquinone and actual commercial bleach. The reality is that skin of color is incredibly sensitive, so we need to take a very gentle approach. Secondly, the approach toward aging skin care for the general population is very much centered on fine lines and wrinkles, but many women of color first develop dark spots and changes in skin tone and, later, the lines. So when you’re thinking melanin-rich skin, the approach should be to address tone first.”

What is the most important skin-care advice you think every woman of color should follow?
“Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, all day, every day. Many women of color think they don’t need it because they have melanin, but we do. We age with dark marks, and those are signs of sun damage. It’s also important to look for a sunscreen with blue light protection. Recent studies have shown that the blue light emitted from our screens — like our phones and computers — causes hyperpigmentation in darker-toned skin. Retinol is also a fabulous ingredient [for evening skin tone].”

In what ways do you use your brand to uplift and empower Black women?
“First and foremost, to say I see you. I recently posted a video discussing the four features of melanated skin that make us unique, and so many commenters mentioned how they feel seen and heard. I’ve also posted reels where I share the behind-the-scenes of our photoshoots, and it’s just a melanin celebration. I’m also very deliberate in who I collaborate with and what businesses I work with, and I try to seek out other Black women as business partners. I have aspirations to, at some point, grow the company to where we can invest in and mentor other businesses.”

What advice do you have for young Black entrepreneurs?
“One, I would say read and be well-read. Two, don’t start a business — solve a problem, and the business will come. When you solve a problem, the implication is that you know who your customer is, what they want, and what their challenges are. If you solve their problems, then you have a business there. Take a customer-focused approach.”

Terese Brown of Terese Sydonna

Jamaican-born, New York-raised designer Terese Brown infuses her vibrant Jamaican culture and love of Japanese art and architecture into every collection she creates. A self-starter, she’s greatly focused on inspiring women to step into their authentic selves for their communities and, most importantly, themselves. “I personally understand the struggles women face navigating pressure to fit a particular image and standard of beauty,” she says. “I want to change this and empower them to confidently reveal their inner strength and untapped superpowers.” And so, she considers her sophisticated collection of dresses, robes, two-piece sets, and accessories as “modern armor.”

Many white or non-Black entrepreneurs start businesses with capital from generations of wealth in their families, but unfortunately, this is not a common thread in the Black community. Brown, who has experienced her own career pivots and understands the value of mentorships and incubator programs first-hand, is looking to change that with her work on several advisory boards centered around entrepreneurship. “As a minority business owner, being authentic, being unapologetic about my story of sacrifice, dreaming big, and overcoming the extra hardships to be where I am now are what matters most,” she says.

Ahead, Refinery29 spoke with Brown about what led her to start a brand of her own and the importance of uplifting other Black women.

You began your career in finance and then pivoted to working with some of the biggest names in fashion. What inspired you to make this transition and eventually start a brand of your own?
“As an immigrant and the oldest in my family, it was always my mother’s dream for me to be successful and get a “big” job, and for a while, I bought into that. I did my stint on Wall Street, but it just didn’t feel right or feel like me, so I made the transition to buying and merchandising. I started working as an assistant buyer at a major retailer right before the 2008 recession, and one day I went to work, and half of us were fired. I remember feeling so relieved; it was my opportunity to get out to do what I really wanted to do. The next week, I was enrolled in a one-year design program, and within a year’s time, I was working as a designer by day and on my own line, Terese Sydonna, by night.”

You proudly manufacture your collections in New York City’s Garment District. Why is it important to you to keep your brand locally made?
“I feel like I’m living my American dream. I’m proudly Jamaican, a New Yorker, and a Bronxite, and I feel like New York has given so much to me. I love working with the small businesses that make Terese Sydonna what it is. Every single person that I work with who helps us create the prints, that do our manufacturing, or handle our grading and marking is part of an individual family business of color and immigrants. It feels so good to know that, together, we’re creating something so beautiful. It means the world to me knowing that I’m helping out my community.”

In what ways do you use your brand to uplift and empower Black women?
“My brand is all about authenticity. I wasn’t able to truly tell my story until I started being authentic in owning the fact that I am a Black woman. How can I design something if I’m not empowering myself and empowering Black women, too? When I look back on my time on Wall Street and in buying and merchandising, there were so many spaces where I couldn’t be myself, where my hair was an issue, or where I was the only Black woman. Many of my clientele are Black women, and they face these same challenges every single day. I wanted to change that, so I sought out to create a community centered around celebrating each other and what makes us unique. I couldn’t do any of this without celebrating Black women because they truly built my business and helped me get to where I am today.”

What advice do you have for young Black entrepreneurs?
“Whatever your idea, always listen to that inner voice telling you to do it. No one is going to cheer for you as hard as yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader. I also think young entrepreneurs need to realize that the story behind your brand is what matters. People are more interested in ideas, feelings, and stories — they care less about the clothes, they buy them because it’s you, and that’s what makes you magic.”

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

New Women of Color in Business: Cross-Generational Survey©, by Harvard Business School Alumnae and Business Leaders Bonita C. Stewart and Jacqueline Adams, Sponsored by Google, Published Today

LinkedIn
two diverse tech students in classroom reviewing work on computer screen on google

By PR Newswire

Today, Harvard Business School alumnae and co-authors Bonita C. Stewart and Jacqueline Adams published their 2021 U.S. Women of Color in Business: Cross-Generational Survey© sponsored by Google. Titled Untapped Women of Color: The Talent Force Multiplier, the new release, and third in five planned annual surveys, is unique in its analysis of the opinions and capabilities of women desk workers and students across four generations. The work also highlights new, evolving skills and attitudes that managers must develop to assess and motivate talent, across cultures as well as generations, in the complex post-COVID workplace.

For the first time, the 2021 edition of the U.S. Women of Color in Business: Cross-Generational Survey© compared and contrasted the experiences of 300 White and Black male managers with those of 4,000 women managers and desk workers across four races (Black, LatinX, Asian American and White) and four generations (Gen Z students [ages 17-24], Millennials [ages 25-39], Gen X [ages 40-56], and Boomers [ages 57-74]). The results underscore the need for a more nuanced appreciation of “generational diversity,” an original concept coined by Stewart and Adams.

In addition to including Black and White male managers, this year’s survey takes a deeper look at Asian American women desk workers, with differentiating responses by the women’s countries of origin: China, Vietnam, India and the Philippines.

Co-authors Adams and Stewart, a Board Partner at Google’s Gradient Ventures, note that they truly appreciate Google’s support of their work. “The company’s sponsorship validates the originality and importance of our research,” they say. “We are also grateful for the on-going expertise of our survey partner, Quadrant Strategies. We believe creating a talent multiplier requires building new management capability in the areas of Cultural Intelligence (CQ), as well as understanding Generational Diversity in the workplace.”

“The data leads the co-authors to the conclusion that great managers matter,” says Melonie Parker, Chief Diversity Officer at Google. “The underappreciated generational changes identified in the survey should encourage and challenge leaders to assess ‘untapped’ talent pools as a force multiplier for business success. At Google, we see this research as another lens to inform our ongoing work to build belonging, while providing exceptional thought leadership to all companies navigating the growing complexities of the workplace.”

Highlights from the new research include:
Despite promises of progress, despite disruptions to corporate recruiting, the co-authors’ chief performance metric – the Onlys – remains stalled, with almost half of Black and LatinX women continuing to report being frequently or always the only person of their races in professional settings.

More distressing is that the number of Black and LatinX Millennial Onlys has spiked: 55% for Black and 45% for LatinX.

The 2021 results show clear differentiations among Black and LatinX Millennial women, especially when it comes to confidence about the future, ways of coping with workplace stresses, and even teaming up within the “sisterhood.”

This was a breakaway year for innovation among Millennials, what this survey calls “First to Know About Technology.” 44% of Black Millennial women desk workers said they are always the first to know; 42% for LatinX, 33% for Asian Americans and 38% for White Millennials.

Black and LatinX women reported that they are actively participating in the current startup boom.

32% of Black Millennial women said they founded or co-founded the company they work at, more than doubling the 14% in 2020.

Just as they reported in 2020, Black women across all generations are more likely to be “side-preneurs”—to have a business they are working on outside of their desk jobs. 27% said they are side-entrepreneurs, as opposed to 16% LatinX, 11% Asian American, and 12% White women.

Millennial women are acknowledging systemic racism in the U.S. and are not shy about using their power to address it.

In 2021, Asian American women fell behind other racial groups, across all generations, in terms of career satisfaction.

Only 30% of Asian American women (down from 39% in 2020) agreed a great deal that they’ve had the opportunity to do meaningful and satisfying work, compared to 42% White women, 47% LatinX women, and 51% Black women).

Chinese American respondents, in particular, reported the lowest career satisfaction, while Indian American, Filipina American, and Vietnamese American women were comparatively more satisfied.

Only 17% of Chinese American women feel greatly fulfilled at work, compared to 33% of Filipina American women, 32% of Indian American women, and 31% of Vietnamese American women.

Click here to read the full article on PR Newswire.

‘Sex Education’ actor Ncuti Gatwa will be the first Black lead in ‘Doctor Who’

LinkedIn
Actor Ncuti Gatwa at the premiere of the second season of the Netflix series Sex Education. Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

By , NPR

Actor Ncuti Gatwa will play the role of The Doctor in the show Doctor Who, the BBC announced Sunday, in a historic casting selection that marks the first time a Black person has been cast to star in the show’s central role full-time.

The 29-year-old Gatwa, best known for his work in the Netflix series Sex Education, is also among the youngest Doctors yet.

“There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared,” Gatwa said in a press release. “Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show.”

Gatwa was born in Rwanda and raised in Scotland. He began his professional acting career eight years ago after graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, one of the world’s top performing arts schools.

In Netflix’s warm-hearted series Sex Education, Gatwa plays the vibrant Eric Effiong, a gay high school student.

As a gay Black teen who is the best friend of the show’s main character, the role of Eric could have been a trap of cliches as the “gay sidekick” or “Black best friend” for a straight white male protagonist.

Instead, Gatwa’s Eric stands out from the ensemble cast with a fully realized personality and inner life. The actor has twice been nominated for Best Male Comedy Performance at the British Film and Television Awards.

He becomes the 14th actor to be cast in the iconic role, following the departure of Jodie Whittaker, who was the first woman to play the role when she was cast in 2017.

In 2020, a Black person played a variation of the Doctor role for the first time when Jo Martin was cast as the Fugitive Doctor.

The new season of Doctor Who is also marked by the return of showrunner Russell T Davies, who helped revive the show in 2005 after a 15-year hiatus. Davies stepped away from the showrunner role in 2009.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Pharrell Williams wants to fund minority business leaders who want to uplift their communities

LinkedIn
Felecia Hatcher, CEO of Black Ambition, and Pharrell Williams, Founder, Black Ambition.

By Talib Visram, Fast Company

In a lighthearted moment at Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies Summit, the CEO of Black Ambition, Felecia Hatcher, suggested that the concepts behind today’s biggest crowdfunding businesses, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, were invented years ago by Black communities.

“All you had to do was look at the Black church,” she said. “We pass a plate every Sunday from one pew to the next. That’s how we funded scholarships. That’s how we fixed the roof.”

But there was a more poignant message to her comment, too. “We’ve had to be innovative out of necessity,” she said, given the lack of historical financial support for communities of color.

Innovation among minority communities has existed but hasn’t received due credit, capital, or support. Filling that gap is the aim of Black Ambition, a nonprofit organization and pitch competition founded by musician and record producer Pharrell Williams, which distributes startup capital and mentorship to Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Williams and Hatcher spoke to multimedia editor KC Ifeanyi about the competition returning for its second year, what they learned from its debut, and why they’re not looking for entrepreneurs who only want to line their own pockets.

The concept behind what they’re doing is the “uninterrupted founder.” That is: “What would your life look like if nothing stood in the way of you achieving success?” Hatcher explained. Throughout history, minorities in America have been faced with systemic racism that’s locked out opportunities for capital. Of the $148 billion that venture capitalists provided in funding in 2020, only about 3% went to Black entrepreneurs. “I always say [that] most Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, we get a round of applause from everyone, [but] we don’t always get the round of funding,” Hatcher said.

Williams added that the lack of networking power has also blocked success. “I know people [who] have had much better ideas [than me], and because they just didn’t have the ecosystem to go knock on the door, or pick up a phone, or send an email and get the codes, they lost out on genius ideas.”

Black Ambition hopes to provide both the capital and the networking. It’s awarding prizes of up to $1 million to founders. Last year, the organization gave its top prize, $1 million, to Livegistics, a Detroit-based software company whose operating system provides real-time digital records to stakeholders in the construction industry. It invested in 34 companies, and trained and supported 300 with mentorship by partners including Adidas, Chanel, and the Visa Foundation.

In a separate category, it’s also awarding up to $100,000 to founders who currently attend historically Black colleges and universities. “HBCUs have always been the fertile ground for growth in the Black communities,” Williams said. “They’re like little baby cities of potential.”

Click here to read the full article on Fast Company.

Strengthening Black businesses is good for CT, America

LinkedIn
black businesses: female ceo leading a conversation at a conference table

By Anthony Price, Hartford Business

Capitalism works best when businesses innovate and create jobs.

This was not the case when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. While all small businesses (companies with fewer than 500 employees) were affected, it flattened Black businesses like a tornado, impacting them far more than other companies.

From a public policy perspective, two questions come to mind: Why were Black businesses impacted more than other businesses? What can be done to strengthen Black businesses?

The answers are essential because Black businesses play a vital role in their communities.

When the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee released the report “The State of Black-Owned Businesses in America” in February 2022, Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez stated, “I’m hopeful that this report will provide a sober look at the reality facing Black business owners and help provide a path forward in terms of recovery.”

According to the report, “In 2020, Black business ownership rates dropped 41% between February and April 2020, the largest [decline] of any racial group.”

While “Black Americans owned 124,551 employer businesses, they represented just 2.2% of all employer businesses (the 5.7 million employer businesses with at least one employee),” the report found.

The challenge

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., released a report in December 2020 entitled: “To Expand the Economy, Invest in Black Businesses.”

A key finding is that “The underrepresentation of Black businesses is costing the U.S. economy millions of jobs and billions of dollars in unrealized revenues.”

Black people comprise 14.2% of the U.S. population. At a time when America is becoming more “racially and ethnically diverse,” Black-owned employer firms are not keeping up with the pace of the country’s population growth.

Historically, Black businesses have faced challenges and gaps in three areas: Access to capital, mentorship (access to a mentor), and access to business opportunities. Compounding these issues, Black businesses face “institutional discrimination and social inequalities.”

Most Americans build wealth through homeownership. Black homeownership lags behind that of whites. Furthermore, “The median Black household’s wealth ($9,000) is nearly one-fifteenth that of non-Black households ($134,520),” the Brookings Institution report said.

The report states that Black homes are “devalued by an estimated sum of $156 billion — the equivalent of more than 4 million firms, based on the average amount Black people use to start their businesses.”

Available resources

Capital is necessary. Connecticut is helping.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) provides financial support to HEDCO, a nonprofit lender based in Hartford that lends at reasonable interest rates to small businesses throughout the state, including many Black businesses.

Technical assistance is needed to help build up businesses. The Black Business Alliance (BBA) is a statewide organization based in Milford, supported by DECD funding. The BBA provides access to capital, technical assistance, space to showcase retailers, and networking opportunities.

Ann-Marie Knight, the executive director, says, “We’ve become a catalyst for change. We can be an organization that speaks on behalf of Black businesses.”

Led by volunteers, ShopBlackCT.com is a free, online Black-owned business guide. Founder Sarah Thompson and her colleague Yvette Young work at The Village for Families in Hartford. ShopBlackCT.com has over 1,700 businesses listed on its website.

Young says, “We offer Black businesses visibility and marketing support.”

Click here to read the full article on Hartford Business.

Major retailers boost Black female entrepreneurship as employment gap lingers

LinkedIn
Ulta Beauty has doubled the number of Black-owned brands that it carries.

By Maia Vines, CNBC

Major beauty retailers are boosting small, minority-owned businesses as Black female entrepreneurship helps bridge an employment gap.

As of last year, 17% of Black women in the U.S. were in the process of starting or running new businesses, according to the Harvard Business Review. That outpaces the 15% of white men and the 10% of white women who reported the same.

Yet, only 3% of Black women reported running mature businesses.

And the traditional workforce unemployment rate remains high among Black women, at 5.5% in March, compared with overall U.S. unemployment of 3.6%, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate among Hispanic women during the same period was 4.2%. For white women it was 2.8%.

In an effort to assist small businesses and advance Black entrepreneurship opportunities, major retailers such as Ulta, Sephora and Target have created start-up incubators and diversity programs, providing mentorship, financial support and new business opportunities.

This month, Ulta Beauty partnered with incubator Rare Beauty Brands and Black Girl Ventures, a foundation that funds and scales Black- and Brown-founded businesses, on the group’s second pitch competition for minority-owned beauty start-ups. The competition is a live, crowdfunded event where founders create a three-minute pitch in hopes of elevating their businesses.

The first-place winner will receive accounting consultations, $10,000 and a spot on Ulta’s product shelves for at least six months. Winners are picked based on audience votes. Voting between the seven finalists closed on April 14. The winner will be announced next week.

The competition also promises the chance at key mentoring. Black Girl Ventures offers coaching to applicants prior to the pitch, and Rare Beauty Brands works with business owners after their win.

“We already know that in the beauty industry, Black women consume more than their fair share of beauty products and yet, funding for Black female entrepreneurs is dramatically underdeveloped relative to where it should be,” said Rare Beauty Brands CEO Chris Hobson. “This is less about adding brand value to us and really more about righting a wrong and a way to say ‘Thank you’ to a big chunk of our consumers and try and be part of the solution here.”

Kim Roxie, founder and CEO of Lamik Beauty, the first Black-owned clean beauty brand to be featured at Ulta, won last year’s pitch competition from Rare Beauty Brands and Black Girl Ventures. She said the partnership with Rare Beauty Brands was transformative for her business.

“It was game-changing for me as a founder, and it was game-changing for my company,” Roxie told CNBC. “They allowed me to utilize their team in a way that I would have had to try to hire all those different people and it would have been out of my reach.”

“They sort of subbed in and filled in that gap for me.”

Ulta Beauty has pledged to spend $50 million this year on diversity initiatives, including the launch of an accelerated program to support Black founders and putting money toward marketing their brands.

In February, the company said it is roughly halfway toward reaching a goal of 15% minority representation on shelves as part of its broader diversity initiatives.

Scaling brands
Sephora runs similar accelerated programs for entrepreneurs, aimed at improving representation of brands from BIPOC — Black, Indigenous and people of color — founders. The company’s Accelerate program, which launched five years ago, received more than 600 applications from small business owners this year.

“The Accelerate program serves as a springboard for nascent brands to become visible, viable, stable, and financially solvent,” said Rauvan Dulay, vice president of global merchandising, business development and strategy for Sephora. “Business growth in communities of color creates jobs, opportunity, stability and generational wealth — having the potential for decades of positive impact.”

Big-box retailer Target launched Target Takeoff in 2016 with similar objectives but aimed more at mature consumer packaged goods companies. Five years later, the company added Forward Founders to its portfolio, an incubator initiative designed to engage Black entrepreneurs much earlier in their start-up journeys by helping them navigate critical stages, such as ideation, product development and scaling to serve mass retail, according to the company.

The incubator announced its second cohort in January.

“Target has a longstanding, successful track-record of Accelerator programs and we saw an opportunity to do more, and think differently about how we support underrepresented entrepreneurs,” the company said in a statement to CNBC.

Target’s Forward Founders program received about four times the number of applicants it anticipated this year, the company said. It tripled the size of the annual cohort and created an all-new virtual program so all applicants could benefit.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Putting Black Women First Starts With Entrepreneurship

LinkedIn
co black women business owners for the crabby shack wearing teir company t shirts and smiling at the camera

By Fifi Bell-Clanton, Yahoo! News

For nearly a decade, I’ve been the co-owner of a Black-owned seafood restaurant, The Crabby Shack. What initially started as a barbecue sensation and personal passion has transformed into a Brooklyn-based seafood joint where everyone and anyone can enjoy great food made with love. Despite the challenges that Black women entrepreneurs face, we persist and continue to fulfill our entrepreneurial dreams. But now, more than ever, we need an investment in resources, access to professional networks, and the business education needed to survive and thrive. My entrepreneurship journey was completely self-started. I went to local restaurants and researched what it takes to run my own. To fund the restaurant, my business partner and I had to crowdsource from friends and even relied on personal finances to get The Crabby Shack off the ground. It was a tough journey in the beginning but we kept at it. And through a labor of love, we built a seafood haven that speaks to the determination and power of Black women business owners.

The struggles we faced opening and maintaining the business aren’t unique. Research has shown that many Black, women-owned small businesses initially financed their business with their own personal savings. Also, roughly 17% of new businesses are started by a Black woman but only 3% eventually become mature businesses, ultimately leading to Black women owning their own businesses at a rate 24 times lower than white men.

Through business ownership, we can begin to close the racial wealth gap. With less than 1% of Black women owning a business, it’s clear that in order to pave a better future for Black women, we must invest in Black women entrepreneurs, particularly sole proprietors. Sole proprietors make up 96% of Black businesses and over half are women-owned.

Supporting Black entrepreneurship, and Black women solopreneurs, will help our entire economy thrive. Reducing the wage gap for Black women can create 1.2 to 1.7 million U.S. jobs and increase GDP by $300 to 525 billion. The numbers reveal a simple truth: when Black women succeed, we all succeed.

Participating in Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses was the best thing I ever did to help my business thrive and become the successful entrepreneur I am today. The program gave me access to resources and a network that allowed me to take The Crabby Shack to the next level. Programs like Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women: Black in Business are taking a critical step in providing the tailored resources needed for Black women sole proprietors to thrive.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.

SERENA WILLIAMS BACKS BLACK WOMEN-OWNED STARTUP PROVIDING CUSTOMIZED WIGS THROUGH AI

LinkedIn
Serena Williams in a brown dress bent down in a seated position

By Days Tech

Serena Williams is a trailblazer in additional methods than one. This time she’s backing a enterprise aimed toward using synthetic intelligence to supply magnificence customers with custom-made wigs.

Parfait is a brand new wig customization platform aimed toward disrupting the business by being the primary to make use of facial recognition and synthetic intelligence to supply consumers with customizable wig merchandise. The firm raised $5 million in funding spearheaded by Upfront Ventures and Serena Ventures, in keeping with experiences.

“Parfait’s mission to leverage Al to solve core issues for both the tech industry and communities of color is something we, at Serena Ventures, have believed in since the beginning,” Serena Williams stated in a press release.

“She went on to say, “It’s been inspiring to witness their incredible achievements so far, and we’re proud to invest in this next phase of Parfait’s growth.”

Founded by former Target and Amazon government Isoken Igbinedion, the primary seed of funding will assist enhance Parfait’s manufacturing and enhance its provide chain to enter new markets throughout the globe. Through the improved facial recognition Parfait makes use of, the tech-based magnificence model goals to make the wig business extra inclusive to fulfill the hair targets of magnificence customers from all backgrounds.

“Training models used in facial recognition technology are largely unbalanced, often relying on training datasets that are similar in makeup, and do not represent the visual composition of faces worldwide. This often results in poor performance for users who do not fit into that dataset, often represented by white faces and male features.”

Williams shared her pleasure for the brand new funding in an Instagram Story put up, as captured by Essentially Sports. With Parfait aligning with Williams’ rules for her VC agency, the brand new firm is on the highway to success with the total help from one of many best athletes and Black feminine traders of all time.

Click here to read the full article on Days Tech.

Viola Davis on Hollywood: ‘You either have to be a Black version of a white ideal, or you have to be white’

LinkedIn
Viola Davis speaking to audience standing behind podium

By , The Guardian

Many of us had existential thoughts during lockdown, and assuaged them with new hobbies. We did thousand-piece puzzles. We crocheted and knitted. We learned new songs on our guitars, baked overzealously, and connected with our plantlife. For Viola Davis, knocking around in her $5m mansion in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, it was writing, though the nature of it was less assuagement than staring into the coalface of an existential crisis. Who am I? What is my life supposed to mean? If this isn’t it – the Oscar winning, the formidable trail of accolades, the palatial bathrooms and saltwater pool – then what is?

“I lost my mind during the pandemic,” she tells me from her bedroom, dressed pre-photoshoot in a grey sweatshirt and loose woollen hat. “I just wandered around this house like Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” She laughs about it (she has a deep laugh and a deep, mighty voice inherited from her grandmother), but the memoir resulting from the time spent writing is anything but light. She has a story to tell, a gripping, emotive, at times spine-tingling story, with pathos and pain, triumph and redemption, setting a new benchmark for the celebrity confessional. Finding Me is a page-turner, written with narrative knowhow and stylistic competence.

Over a matter of months – interrupted by the filming of The First Lady, in which she plays Michelle Obama, and The Woman King, a historical drama set in the Kingdom of Dahomey (now southern Benin) in west Africa, both projects from her company JuVee Productions – she grappled on the page with the spectre of her poverty-stricken childhood and her subsequent thorny rise to the top, a place that turned out to be less comfortable than imagined.

“Whenever you’re still, whenever you’re quiet, whenever you put everything down, then everything in your life comes into full focus. It comes at you like a jackhammer,” she says of the big, Covid-induced pause. But it was not only the pandemic that led her to the blank screen. The crisis was already in process. “I think it’s been happening ever since my status started to rise,” she says. “When it first rises, it’s nothing but excitement, nothing but an understanding that this is a culmination of your hard work, your talent. You just feel like God has blessed you – I still feel that.

“And then it moves along: what no one tells you about being ‘on top’ is the minutiae of it, the cost of it, the pressure of it, the responsibility, and finally the disillusionment. You feel like you’ve found something you love to do and you’ve made it, your life’s all sewn up – and then you hit it, and it’s just a level of emptiness, of wondering what your life means, and then you crash and burn. I had to go back to the source and revisit my life, revisit my stories, to sort of catapult me into something so I could find home – find me. I’d been lost in it all.”

In 2016, with her Academy Award win for best supporting actress for her role in Fences, based on an August Wilson play, Viola Davis became the first African American to achieve the triple crown of an Oscar, Tony and Emmy for acting (the Tony was for a Broadway role in Wilson’s King Hedley II; the Emmy for the TV legal thriller How to Get Away With Murder). She is the most nominated Black woman in the history of the Academy Awards (she received nominations for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, another Wilson adaptation, as well as The Help and Doubt) and has been ranked in the top 10 of the New York Times’ list of the greatest actors of the 21st century. Her execution of her roles is both exacting and magnanimous, ever astute, possessing a haunting integrity that makes each character seem profoundly known, tangible and self-possessed.

The consummate humble artist, she deems fame and glory secondary to the work; she is modest about her trophies, and dismissive of efforts by her actor husband of almost 19 years, Julius Tennon, and their adopted daughter, Genesis, to splash them around the house. “If it were up to me all the awards would be in the garage,” she says. “I mean, it’s just not my style – it’s a bit too much. Listen, it’s not that I haven’t looked at the Oscar or whatever and thought: wow, that’s pretty awesome. I’m very grateful, but, you know, you can’t live there. Soon as you get it, you walk off the stage, you’re an Oscar winner, but then it’s like, and now what? And then you gotta go on to the next job, and start all over again with that impostor syndrome.”

Click here to read the full article on The Guardian.

Essence Black Women In Hollywood Event Celebrates Black Stars While Shining A Light On The Lack Of Diversity In Hollywood

LinkedIn
Honorees Nia Long, Quinta Brunson, Chante Adams, and Aunjanue Ellis during the 15th annual

By Dominique Fluker, Forbes

On March 24, Essence Magazine hosted their 15th annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon at the Beverley Hills Wilshire Hotel, coming off the heels of a tumultuous pandemic and virtual ceremony in 2021. The star-studded event, held several days before the Oscars, recognizes the iconic achievements of Black Hollywood luminaries and up-and-coming starlets, and this year’s award ceremony did not disappoint as the theme was “The Black Cinematic Universe.” This year’s honorees are entertainment industry veterans Nia Long (You People) and Oscar-nominated actress Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), along with newcomers Quinta Brunson, creator of (Abbott Elementary) and Chanté Adams (A Journal For Jordan.)

There was a sense of belonging, community, and sisterhood in the air as the stars ushered in from the gold carpet into the Beverly Hills Wilshire ballroom to celebrate the honorees at the luncheon. In the midst of the excitement, a looming sentiment rang in true throughout the day, the lack of support from Hollywood regarding diverse storytelling and uplifting Black women artists and professionals behind the scenes, which left us wondering how far Hollywood has come since #OscarsSoWhite?

According to the 2022 USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative report by Katherine L. Neff, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, and Dr. Katherine Pieper, while white women and men of color have seen increased opportunities in the entertainment industry, this trend did not extend to women of color. Only five women of color directed a top-grossing film between 2020 and 2021, and fewer than 2% of all directors across 15 years were women of color — even though women of color earned the best critical reception for their work. The researchers say the results suggest that the quality that women of color bring to filmmaking is not an explanation for their lack of participation in top-grossing films.

The research results extends to women of color actresses as well. Of the 100 top films in 2021, only 32% featured an underrepresented lead/co-lead. This figure is slightly higher than 2020 when only 28% of movies had a lead/co-lead of color. 2021’s findings are still below proportional representation, as people of color make up 40% of the U.S. population.

While on the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards gold carpet, I asked Natasha Rothwell, writer, and Insecure actress, her thoughts on what the industry needs to do to diversify Hollywood. She said, “This is a question that white cis executive males in the industry should be answering. They need to ask themselves what they are doing to have representation in their projects to reflect what the world looks like. I want to see Black cinematographers and directors. I want to see more of us behind the screen.

Robin Thede and Courtney A. Kemp echoed a similar point of view. Courtney Kemp, former writer, and showrunner for Starz, brought up the constant scrutiny and doubt amongst white executives in Hollywood. She said emphatically, “Great question; I was saying as we’re watching with the Supreme Court hearings, we (Black women) are doubted and constantly undermined. It’s always so difficult for us to arrive and achieve and be appreciated for that arrival and those achievements. Today is about the opposite. Today is about celebrating us overcoming. It’s so exhausting sometimes to still have some of these same conversations. We’re still talking about firsts in 2022.”

Robin Thede, the creator of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, believes Hollywood is missing the diverse narratives of Black women. She said, “What’s missing in (Hollywood) are modern, normalized representations of Black women. We’re not a monolith. Whether it’s internet, TV, film, editorial, those things represent us, such as our sizes, shapes, color ranges, hair textures, matter. Black women have got to embrace our beauty and force the world, too, as well. We do such a great job of that, and events like Essence Black Women In Hollywood is a prime example.”

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Black Women Influencers Were Being Left Out, so This Marketer Built an Agency for Them

LinkedIn
La Toya Shambo founded her influencer agency, Black Girl Digital, in 2016

By Emmy Liederman, Ad Week

LaToya Shambo was used to being the only Black woman in rooms that advocated for the same faces in marketing campaigns—the typical white, thin determinants of beauty and success. But it wasn’t until 2011, when she was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street and holding her newborn, that she decided to do something about it.

Surviving that accident, spending months in rehab and her entire maternity leave in a cast changed Shambo’s life forever. “During that process, there was a lot of self-reflection,” she said. “I decided that I had to give back to the culture.”

A lifelong singer, Shambo had briefly flirted with the idea of working in music before settling on marketing. Following that, she transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology, switched majors from music business to marketing and spent her spare time in the library sifting through career books. After landing on the radio ad sales page and snagging an internship at 106.7 Lite FM, Shambo decided what she really wanted to do was work in media planning and buying.

Shambo has made stops at companies including SpikeDDB, Complex and Condé Nast, with each new role deepening her understanding of how to package and sell media while building a sustainable business model. At Complex, she got to observe the publishing business and connect with Black female bloggers who struggled to monetize their platforms.

Then came the accident. A few months after it, Shambo stopped by the Complex office to sign some paperwork. Her boss asked her why she had a smile on her face given all she had endured, and Shambo replied that she had “figured it all out.” Her vision was to build her own Complex, which led Shambo to found Black Girl Digital in 2016.

The shop’s mission is to address the equity and wage discrepancies for Black and multicultural women in the marketing industry through meaningful action, such as the launch of its own app, iLinkr. The program is a tool for brands and agencies that are looking to book and manage talent of color.

“At the time, there were no ad networks specifically for Black female bloggers,” she said. “That birthed Black Girl Digital, which was originally designed as a service to the Black community from the perspective of bloggers. All my bloggers then became influencers, and Black Girl Digital is my contribution to the culture.”

Click here to read the full article on Ad Week.

4 Essential Resume Tips For 2022

LinkedIn
group of candidates ditting in chairs outside hiring managers office

Getting ready to job search? Use these tips to infuse your resume with energy and communicate a clear story about what you can bring to your next job.

Create a personal brand to show employers your uniqueness.

Personal branding is about communicating your identity and showing what sets you apart from others in your field. It combines the personal with the professional since a brand encompasses your skills and talents, along with personality and style.

When competing for a job, you need to stand out. Besides helping you identify your strengths, having a brand can pull your resume to the top of the pile, make you shine in interviews and leave your social media readers positively wowed.

 

Are you ready to start thinking — or re-thinking — your branding strategy?

Consider several of your best work experiences and how you contributed to them. What skill or characteristic is reflected in your best work stories? How did you use it? With what result? Ask yourself: “Why do people like to work with me or employ me?” What earns you compliments or accolades? Why do people depend on you?

Here are two examples to get you started:

  • Do you take exceptional care to ensure details are thoroughly thought through and accurate? Your brand could be “willing to take on the precision that scares others away.”
  • You might be an outstanding supervisor who makes operations flow and brand yourself “a problem-solver who excels at developing talent.”

Your transferable skills are a major selling point; make sure to highlight them.

An important part of what makes you valuable to an employer is your skillset. There are probably some skills unique to your work history; take time to note these and include them in your resume.

Transferable skills are used in many different careers and help make you an attractive job candidate. If you have a hard time coming up with a list of skills, take a Skills Assessment on a website such as CareerOneStop. You can also list the key tasks from your previous jobs and highlight the verbs — or action words — you wrote down.

Promote your accomplishments to advertise what you can achieve.

The first thing an employer wants to learn from a resume is “how could this person help my organization?” Your resume should give the employer a clear answer by including your accomplishments.

Think about what you did in past jobs. What problems did you solve? What solutions did you come up with? What benefits did this provide for the business, customers or employees? Think about the challenge you confronted, the action you took to resolve it, the result and how it benefitted the employer.

Tailor your resume to get through the initial resume review conducted by applicant tracking systems software.

Many employers use applicant tracking system (ATS) software to make an initial sort of resumes; the software indicates whether or not a resume should move on to human resources staff for further review.

For a given position, employers specify in the ATS the skills, education and training, years of experience and other details needed to qualify candidates for a job. As applications are received, the ATS scores each one and puts it in rank order based on how well it meets the employer’s list of criteria.

But unlike a human reader, the software is likely to reject resumes because:

  • Qualified candidates fail to use the employer’s chosen keywords
  • The system doesn’t recognize unusual fonts or formatting
  • Candidates lack the preferred experience but may have qualifications that could make up for what’s missing

Next steps

Once you complete your resume, be sure to post it on your state’s job bank to extend your reach to as wide a variety of job openings as possible.

Creating — or recreating — a personal brand through your resume may, at first, feel daunting, but following theses simple steps can be the next step to the career growth you’ve been looking for.

Source: CareerOneStop

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine

Air Force Civilian Service

AFCS

Leidos

American Family Ins

American Family Insurance

Alight

Alight

United States Postal Services-Diversity

USPS

Danaher

Danaher

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. 2022 Airport Minority Business Development Conference (AMAC) Annual Conference
    June 20, 2022 - June 23, 2022
  6. NABA 2022 National Convention & Expo
    June 21, 2022 - June 24, 2022
  7. From Day One
    June 22, 2022
  8. NAACP National Convention
    July 14, 2022 - July 20, 2022
  9. Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo
    July 14, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
  10. 44th Annual BDPA National Conference
    August 18, 2022 - August 20, 2022