Someone always has to go first–but occupying that role isn’t necessarily easy.
While Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the United States, they remain underrepresented in many industries. And especially when it comes to securing capital, a lack of previous representation in an industry can be a barrier.
“During the time I was building my business, I was generating tons of money, but I just couldn’t get funded,” says Robin Wilson, founder of home textile brand Clean Design Home (originally called Robin Wilson Home). “I remember going to a seed capital group and showing how successful my business was, and a woman said, ‘I don’t know any brands like yours–I’m not trying to be racist or anything.’ I said, ‘I can’t really unzip myself and become something I’m not.’ So I was out.” After years of bootstrapping, Wilson became the first Black American female founder of a global, licensed hypoallergenic textile brand, and now has several successful companies under her holding company, A Blue Egg Corporation.
Wilson is just one example of the Black women entrepreneurs succeeding in spite of systemic barriers. Inc. spoke with her and two others to find out their best takeaways for strategizing, connecting with investors who get you, and achieving “firsts” in their respective industries.
Make the connections you can
By day, Rada Griffin is a senior software engineer for NASA, working on a project that will send the first woman to the moon in 2024. But in her off hours, she’s the owner of Anissa Wakefield Wines and Alabama’s first certified Black female winemaker. In 2006, the Huntsville, Alabama-based entrepreneur started a catering business on the side and quickly developed an interest in wine. “Back then, you really had to know someone in the winemaking business to get some insight about it,” she says. After years of self-study, she launched her business in 2017, releasing her first vintage of wine the following year. She became a certified winemaker in 2021, after she completed an online program through Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.
Of the more than 8,000 wineries in the United States, about one-10th of 1 percent are Black-owned, Phil Long, president of the Association of African American Vintners, told Bloomberg in 2020. Finding people who are open-minded to diversity and inclusion, Griffin says, has been key to her success. She connected with a few other Black women winemakers working in Napa, where she produces her wine. “I’ve come across some really, really great people who have kind of taken me under their wing,” she says. “If you don’t reach out to people, if you don’t go talk to people and understand what it is that you’re doing or what you need to do better, you’ll keep making the same mistakes.” Griffin says that the support she’s gained from her network has made all the difference–she turns to her fellow winemakers for advice and inspiration.
Turn “no” into a learning opportunity
Tiffany Mason, founder of Harlem Pilates–the first Pilates studio in Harlem–recently won a $30,000 grant from Squarespace to put toward her business. But fundraising previously wasn’t easy. For that reason, she bootstrapped her business, running lessons from her apartment for about two years before she started looking for a brick-and-mortar space in 2019. After approaching a few banks, she got approved for a small personal loan, which allowed her to take the next step in opening her business.
“I got a lot of noes,” she says. “Eventually, you understand that noes are feedback to help you get better. It’s important to take those responses and learn how to refine your messaging.” On her part, Mason says that early noes taught her to become more confident in her pitch, being “loud and proud” about owning the only Pilates studio in her neighborhood. While trying to secure her initial bank loan, Mason says that she took a more passive approach, and didn’t really emphasize how significant her business was for her neighborhood; when she applied for Squarespace’s grant, she went in the opposite direction–to great success.
Understand the power of branding
Wilson started her career in the corporate world at the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. When the company went public in 1999, she gained the financial opportunity to pursue her real passion–so, she went to NYU to get her master’s in real estate finance and launched her business, Robin Wilson Home. Over the years, she’s faced ups and downs, and particularly had a hard time garnering VC interest. “As a woman and a person of color, there’s real fiscal inequality,” she says.
But in the summer of 2020, she saw sales of her 2015 book Clean Design tick up, amid increased calls to support Black-owned businesses. Around that time, she had a conversation with an old business school professor, who advised her to change the name of her business to help expand her appeal.
At Bloomberg, innovation comes to life as a result of our 6,500 engineers’ various perspectives, lived experiences, nationalities, genders, as well as ethnic and racial backgrounds. Our inclusive culture places a high value on diverse ideas and teams, which leads to the creation of more unlikely ideas, better decisions being made, and fast, collaborative action among our people.
These four Black technologists work in our Engineering and Global Data departments in New York City. Two of them graduated from Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Each of them has worked at Bloomberg for more than five years, and all of them have held different roles across the company as they’ve grown and advanced in their careers here.
Through our conversations, we explore their journey to Bloomberg and what they do here, how their careers have progressed as they’ve grown professionally, their interests and impact in the technology sector, why they believe an inclusive workplace is important, as well as their own efforts to bring more diverse talent to tech. Following an incredibly challenging year in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Aubrey, we also asked them what has, hasn’t, and still needs to change in the workplace with regards to racial justice. Interviews were edited for length and clarity.
Engineering Team Leader for AIM Valuations Workflows at Bloomberg
How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now?
I joined Bloomberg in 2013, after working in tech in the Baltimore area for a couple of years. I learned of the position purely by luck; it popped up on my LinkedIn page as I was browsing around. As they say, the rest is history…
Since joining the company, I have worked on various products within Asset & Investment Manager (AIM) Engineering in support of our clients’ trading activities. The Valuations Workflows team maintains the Cash Management system within AIM, which tracks the impact of trades and position lifecycle events on clients’ portfolios.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
When I joined Bloomberg, I did not think of actively seeking a formal mentor. However, I have informally leveraged my network to help guide my career. One key piece of advice that has stuck with me since my early days is “your career at Bloomberg is what you make of it.” This has driven home the point for me that I needed to take charge of my career development. It has led me to take more risks, to raise my hand and ask to be part of projects, and to design discussions that I found to be in line with my professional aspirations. It also pushed me to get more involved in other activities across the company, such as recruiting and Best of Bloomberg (BOB) volunteer events, which I credit for setting the foundation for my becoming a co-lead of Bloomberg’s Black In Tech (BBIT) community.
What do you love most about working in tech?
As a student at heart, I have an insatiable thirst for solving complex problems. Working in tech is a dream come true for me, as it offers unique opportunities to solve real-life problems — be it through machine learning or the introduction of complex hardware, algorithms, or designs.
In health, education, and finance, technology allows developers to coordinate with experts in various fields and to introduce solutions that support the rapid analysis of information, which leads to insightful decisions. Furthermore, the field is constantly changing, offering lots of potential for continuous learning. There are always opportunities to learn about new tools and techniques.
Given the dynamic nature of the field and the fact that it permeates all facets of life, there are endless opportunities for one to innovate and challenge the status quo.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
I chose to work in tech primarily because of the constant opportunity to solve challenging problems. This is especially true in the environment at Bloomberg. However, I also get excited about my career in tech when I think about the promise of ubiquitous computing and how it integrates seamlessly into every aspect of our daily lives.
It is indescribable to be part of such a dynamic field, where new solutions, tools, algorithms are being introduced every day — all with the intent of improving our quality of life or supporting complex analysis. So, are there any particular technologies that interest me? For me, it’s whatever technology is most applicable to the current problem at hand. So, I am really interested in taking it all in and am always seeking to learn about new technologies whenever time permits.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
Representation is one of the most significant challenges faced by people of color in the tech industry. The lack of representation means there are few role models to inspire and mentors to serve as guides.
Representation impacts peer learning as well. As a graduate student, I was lucky enough to have other Black students in the program with me and that made a world of difference. We relied on each other for support, because none of us had access to mentors — within the program or otherwise — who could guide our steps.
Another downside to the lack of representation is that one can succumb to the idea that you represent your whole group. As a result of this hypervisibility, you may feel your successes are undeserved and your failures are further proof that your group is incapable of performing at a high level. This extra burden on the psyche is part of the emotional tax that comes with being Black in tech, something that can be detrimental to professional growth and success. Without greater representation, even talented people of color can suffer from imposter syndrome and put undue pressure on themselves, leading to failure or burnout.
In light of the heightened awareness of / discussion about racial justice in the workplace since last summer, what’s changed? What hasn’t? What still needs to change?
The heightened focus on racial justice has certainly changed the landscape. There are fewer people on the sideline, and more people have stopped turning a blind eye to the issue at hand. There is less of a need to explain the state of things. Instead, most of the discussion has shifted to strategizing about solutions.
There have been many pledges from individuals and companies alike, making the promise of a brighter future seems more realistic. However, accountability will be key to getting us there, so things like indexing or other forms of measurement are needed across the board. Bloomberg and other media/data companies will play a key role in tracking the numbers and the improvements at different organizations, to ensure these pledges are met.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
The most prized asset of any company is its employees. They are the driving force behind any success. Diversity and inclusion are about investing in the employees, ensuring that they remain engaged at work and can develop a growing sense of belonging — of community. The BBIT community aims at providing that space within Bloomberg for Black technologists and allies to build their networks and remain engaged.
As one of the co-founders of BBIT, I am always amazed at the level of engagement and enthusiasm that exists in our community chat. The energy in the chat is almost palpable, regardless of the virtual environment in which we are now operating. This gives me great hope for any current or future BBIT members who are looking for that sense of belonging.
Remote jobs are a hot search term — even in national security, thanks in no small part to workforce changes post-2020. But while many say they want to work from home some or all of the time, it doesn’t mean candidates know how to find a remote job. The candidate market may be hot, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find the right job that fits you.
5 MISTAKES TO AVOID IN YOUR REMOTE JOB SEARCH
But if you’re in the market for a remote job and not finding one, you might be making some basic mistakes. Sometimes, you don’t have to overhaul everything — just make a few adjustments.
Focusing only on the remote-side of the search.
When it comes to jobs, it’s really about lining up the right skills to the position. It may be tempting to apply for every and any remote job, regardless of whether or not you even want to do the actual work. However, if you want to go remote in national security, your best bet will be to keep your job search open to all requirements and focus on your specific skillsets. You may find that in a candidate market, cleared employers are willing to offer some hybrid options. You can narrow your search for specific remote jobs, but it’s important to keep your skillsets the key piece of the equation. Employers are most concerned with finding cleared candidates who meet the job requirements.
Never changing your resume for the different jobs.
This isn’t a remote-only issue. It is a normal struggle for candidates, but it’s worth mentioning because it can have such a negative impact on the success of a job search. If you’re not adjusting your resume based on each job description, make that your first change you make. If you want the job, you have to connect the dots for recruiters, highlighting how your skillsets map to the job requirements. Don’t just blast your resume out to every opportunity without making adjustments.
Searching remote jobs outside your geographical location.
When it comes to cleared, remote opportunities, the odds of having to make an appearance at the office or the client site are high. Unless the contract allows for billable travel, you will need to be close enough to commute in, sometimes at least once a week. Unless you have a personal SCIF at home or the contract has zero classified information that you will have to handle, then you should expect some in-person interactions will need to happen. Try narrowing down your search to opportunities that are at least a drivable distance from your home.
Forgetting your network.
You build your network for many reasons, but one of the best times to lean on them is when you are job searching. Whether it’s to ask someone to review your resume or it’s to connect to a company that has remote openings, you have to remember to reach out. Asking for help isn’t easy for everyone, but every job search is made better when your network is involved. Don’t forget to reach out to recruiters as part of your network, as well as key associations in the industry. Those connections could be your ticket to answering emails in your comfy pants at home.
Skipping your remote skills section.
You might not think this section is important, but you’d be wrong. If you want to have a remote job, you have to highlight how you are suited to it. Not everyone thrives or has the right skills to make the remote life work for them. Team communications and collaboration skills in a remote world need to be highlighted. How are you at tracking tasks? Don’t talk about how much easier working at home makes your personal and professional life. That shouldn’t be your reasoning for an employer to offer you a remote job. If you really want to land your next remote gig, you need to highlight on your resume your remote skills, as well as share that information during the interview too.
BE FLEXIBLE WITH REMOTE DEMANDS
Sometimes in national security, the remote jobs just aren’t there. But be sure that it’s because all the contracts are actually requiring 100 percent on-site support and not because you’re making some key mistakes in your remote job search. And you may need to be flexible on the amount of cleared remote work you can get. With federal agency offices opening back up, mask guidelines being adjusted and vaccine mandates on hold, more clients will be expecting more faces on-site. Being able to support the mission with a hybrid schedule is a win for the national security workforce.
Especially coming out of the pandemic, the need for job security has increased for job seekers across the country. While many industries and ways of doing business have changed through the events of 2020 and into 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 31 percent increase, at minimum, to 10 career fields in the next 10 years, despite the pandemic’s effects on the economy.
Pursuing a career in a growing field could not only provide job security through unprecedented events but could provide a steady income and a foundation for moving up in the ranks of your career. Check out the 10 fastest-growing jobs.
Wind Turbine Technician
A wind turbine technician, also known as a wind tech, installs, inspects, maintains, operates and repairs wind turbines. They can diagnose and fix any problem that could cause the turbine to shut down unexpectedly.
· Projected Growth Change: 68.2 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $56,260
· Required Education (minimum): Certificate in Wind Energy Technology
A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner. NPs are trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease plus formulate and prescribe treatment plans. NP training covers basic disease prevention, coordination of care and health promotion but does not provide the depth of expertise needed to recognize more complex conditions.
· Projected Growth Change: 52.2 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $120,680
· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in the field of Advanced Practice Nursing
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. Typically, a PV is in charge of measuring, cutting, assembling and installing solar modules, panels and support structures according to building codes and standards. They also work to maintain, test and ensure the productivity of PV systems.
· Projected Growth Change: 52.1 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $47,670
· Required Education (minimum): High School degree and Trade School Knowledge
Statisticians are responsible for analyzing data and applying computational techniques to solve problems. Typical job tasks include designing surveys, experiments and polls; applying mathematical theories and methods to solve practical problems in business, engineering and the sciences; and interpreting data and communicating analyses to technical and non-technical audiences.
· Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $95,570
· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in Statistics
Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistants sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. They are directly involved in the care of patients and often aid in patient care, treatment area setup and clerical duties.
· Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $61,180
· Required Education (minimum): Associate degree from an accredited program and a license or certification
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are responsible for monitoring an organization’s networks for security breaches, keeping up with information technology trends and are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan.
· Projected Growth Change: 33.3 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $102,600
· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technology or a related field
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Home health and personal care aides monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. Under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner, home health aides may be allowed to give a client medication or to check the client’s vital signs.
· Projected Growth Change: 32.6 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $29,430
· Required Education (minimum): Formal training
Medical and Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or administrators, plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. They may manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area/department or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must adapt to changes in healthcare laws, regulations and technology.
· Projected Growth Change: 32.5 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $101,340
· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in related fields
Data Scientists and Mathematical Occupations
A data scientist creates programming code and combines it with statistical knowledge to develop insights from data. Data science is an interdisciplinary field focused on extracting knowledge from data sets, which are typically large, and applying the knowledge and actionable insights from data to solve problems in a wide range of application domains.
· Projected Growth Change: 31.4 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $100,480
· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Data Science in a computer-related field
Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine in teams with physicians, surgeons and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients through examinations and diagnostic tests. They may also prescribe medication and give treatments.
· Projected Growth Change: 31 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $121,530
· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree from an accredited educational program
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Energy, Wikipedia, Master’s in Data Science
Like many business owners, you may wonder the purpose of business credit. Why is your business credit a big part of your evaluation to know if your business is good? I get a lot of questions and thoughts about business credit from time to time. Starting from what is business credit? And how do I find one? To what lengths can you apply to get a positive rating score?
Here, I answer eight commonly asked questions about business credit.
What is business credit?
Business credit is a part of your business profile and a tool used to know the ability to pay back a loan. To keep it simple, business credit will help you buy something now and pay it later. You need to have a good credit score to prove to creditors that your business is worthy.
How can I get business credit?
You need your business to be established. Make it an LLC, partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship, etc. then your business credit profile will be created. Parts of the business profile are informed about your business included in the public record. The business credit is public. So, anyone can look at it. Meanwhile, your personal credit score can’t be viewed by anyone, but several things from it could affect your business credit positively or negatively.
How to make a strong business credit profile?
It should be a priority to build a strong business credit profile. Even if you’re a new business entrepreneur, you must have it like it’s a credit card for business. Start small and build your business credit from that stage.
Here’s a tip: Vendor credit is a smart way many new businesses establish with their credit profile. Trade credit is probably one of the easiest ways to establish your business credit profile and a fantastic way to build a solid business credit score. You use these two tips to increase your score at the start of your business because these tips won’t last long as business time goes.
Where can you go and see your business credit profile?
There are a lot of places you can go to view your business credit profile. All credit bureaus will give you access to view your score. They also want to ensure that your information and their records have the same accuracy. So, it makes sense to review your profile regularly. There’s no penalty for inquiring about your business credit profile, which is a nice perk to have.
What are the main business credit bureaus?
The top business credit bureaus in the country are Experian, Equifax and Dunn & Bradstreet. These three credit bureaus have a slight difference in creditworthiness evaluation. So, I recommend that you do good research on these three and decide which one is best for your business.
How often should you check your business credit profile?
If you’re a conservative person, check your profile monthly. It’s the best way to find errors and fix the minor issues before it goes on too long. We pay the most attention to things that give impact, and checking your profile monthly is not that frequent.
How can you improve your business credit profile?
If you don’t like your business credit score right now, don’t worry. There are ways to improve it, but it takes effort. Pay off your business credit often to keep the debt ratio low. Don’t wait for monthly statements to come; pay them off each week. You can pay online or on your phone for easy convenience. Do you owe money to a creditor? Pay in full, and pay it off as quickly as possible. Don’t close your credit accounts. The length of your credit history matters.
Does your time in business affect the score of your business credit profile?
It doesn’t necessarily impact your credit profile, but if the business is in the early stage, it will be hard to find a small business loan. Strong profiles that show histories of credit and service debt can positively impact your profile. The longer your credit history, the more information your creditors can have in your profile to prove your creditworthiness, and they can determine if you have a good track record.
In closing, there are a lot of commonly asked questions to be answered, but I believe these are the most common questions you’ll find in other searches as well, and this is the most direct and informative answer we can give for new business entrepreneurs. Once you understand your business credit score, you’ll never feel helpless, and this will remind you about the status of your business.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Equity Honors awards are presented to corporate chief officers who have been recognized by their peers as the true leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration.
Submit an application for your CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CDO, and CPO of the Year. All applications* must be started** by Dec. 20 to be considered.
*Qualified applications submitted for The Equity Honors in 2022 have been cloned for consideration for the 2023 Equity Honors. Simply log into the NMSDC Awards Portal and update your application, then submit. Previous winners of The Equity Honors are ineligible to apply again for a minimum of 3 years.
**We will reopen the applications in March of 2023 to collect 2022 comparative data that will complete the application. All applications that have been started by Dec. 20 will constitute The Equity Honors Nominees for 2023 with nominees highlighted on the Forum website and invited to the 2023 Minority Business Economic Forum.
Bloomberg Engineering’s culture champions innovation. This is made possible by the different perspectives of our 6,000+ software engineers around the globe, who come from diverse backgrounds and geographies and who possess a variety of technology specialties.
Meet four of Bloomberg’s software engineers – all of whom are active members of the Bloomberg Black in Tech Community across our New York, San Francisco and London engineering teams – and see how they’ve been empowered to impact our business globally.
Our conversations with them cover their paths to and work at Bloomberg, how they’ve grown professionally, their impact in technology, the importance of an inclusive workplace, and their efforts to attract more diversity to tech. Interviews were edited for length and clarity.
TITLE: Software Engineer BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York
How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now? I lived abroad for 5 years, during which time I taught English in South Korea for 3½ years. I then served in the U.S. Navy for 4 years, after which I felt the urge to embrace my technical talents. This career change turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
While finishing my MBA, I decided to apply to the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, one of the country’s top-ranked coding bootcamps. This decision was the beginning of my path to Bloomberg, which I was drawn to for its philanthropic programs, the eclectic and dynamic nature of the Bloomberg Terminal, and the opportunity to be immersed in a culture of strong, talented software engineers.
I’m currently in the training program for new engineers. Prior to starting my training, I had the privilege of pre-training on the Commodities team, where I worked on building a map UI in React and Node.js and integrating it with a remote procedure call framework. I really enjoyed the learning process in discovering how to merge open source technologies with proprietary technologies.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way? One of my mentors is Erik Anderson, the software engineer who helped created MAPS<GO> and many of Bloomberg’s chart functions. Erik has helped me a great deal in building my confidence to tackle things outside my comfort zone. He really has helped me see that I was capable of more than I thought and encouraged me along the way, which really made me more driven to put in the long hours of practice and study that it takes to get to Bloomberg.
What do you love most about working in tech? I really enjoy the way it has evolved over the years and how it continues to change so rapidly. Working in technology forces me to continue learning and embrace my status as a ‘forever’ student. The moment we get too comfortable in this industry is the moment we are in danger of falling behind. There are so many advances and new technologies that, even after just one year, the older versions are quickly out-of-date. What I love most is that it is an industry that never gets too comfortable; it is about constantly improving the product and making applications faster and more efficient. The associated mental challenges and continuous learning excite me the most!
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? Entering a male-dominated industry doesn’t come without trepidation. Knowing that people come equipped with certain biases that they themselves may not even be aware of plays a role; it is just the way we have all been socially-programmed by the media, our parents, and our communities. The tech industry is challenging by itself and people of color may have to face a few additional challenges, dealing with variations of micro-inequities, and the burden of not contributing to certain stereotypes. However, what I enjoy the most are the raised awareness and open discussions seeking to address these imbalances. It really shows how we, as a human species, are evolving our consciousness around these issues.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? Diversity and inclusion are crucial to the strength of any great organization. In order for technology to serve a wider range of users, understanding their needs and wants is very important. With the advent of globalization, this type of understanding can only be reached by increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
I also enjoy sharing my experiences traveling and living abroad with my co-workers. It highlights the importance of travel as a way to break down barriers in understanding different cultures, which I believe is a pivotal step towards this objective. I am also a member of many different communities here at Bloomberg, so as not to limit the definition of myself to one particular ethnicity or background, but to expand my sense of self in order to represent the many different cultural experiences I’ve had and those I’ve adopted along the way.
TITLE: Senior Software Engineer BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York
How did you get to Bloomberg? I was an industry hire out of a Bloomberg recruiting event in Seattle, where I met the engineers who would eventually be my managers. They were great and provided an amazing vision of the technical challenges and company culture at Bloomberg.
What do you work on now? I am presently working on designing and building out the underlying platform that supports Bloomberg’s Asset Investment Management (AIM) compliance workflows.
Did you have any mentors to guide your career along the way? Most definitely! I was fortunate to have an awesome mentor when I first started at Bloomberg. He was one of those engineers whose code nuances and expressiveness are like revelations. I learned a lot about my team and Bloomberg’s culture just by contributing to his code. I was also fortunate to have supportive managers who accommodated my desire to be challenged. They were able to provide interesting, tangible and business-critical projects to broaden my scope and contributions.
What do you love most about working in tech? It has been said that engineers are the gatekeepers for civilization. Being in tech is like a calling. The work one does has a direct impact on the well-being of others. It gets more interesting when your work pushes the boundaries of what is considered possible. When this happens, there is no greater feeling than creating something new. Then you realize that, in some small way, you’ve (hopefully) helped make the world just a bit better than before.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you? Machine learning, especially around the areas of natural language processing and understanding. The best technologies are those that feel so completely natural and intuitive that you may forget that you are interacting with a machine. Ironically, it is extremely difficult to create such a system. Applications of ML have the powerful potential to change the way we all interact with technology, if not the very nature of the machines we use.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? There are very few of us in the tech industry. This truism begs us to ask why, as demographics don’t support this reality, as 10% of all college graduates and computer science majors are people of color. It’s sometimes hard not to feel excluded when there are very few people who look like you in the places that you are or want to be. There is often a significant effort required to go from ‘person of color,’ to ‘person,’ to ‘extremely capable person’ in the minds of others that people of other backgrounds do not face.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? Antifragility is a term coined by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb that describes systems that thrive in the face of volatility, shock or adversity. It represents the next step beyond robustness and resilience. I believe that, by their very nature, antifragile systems are diverse. Events that could take down a monoculture are often integrated and used for the greater good by an antifragile system. Diversity and inclusion promote antifragility by fostering teams that are tolerant, supportive, engaging and dynamic.
How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? I am one of the co-founders of the Bloomberg Black In Tech (BBIT) Community, which is composed of individuals in technology roles across Bloomberg – in engineering, product management, data science, etc. BBIT’s singular goal is to make Bloomberg the best place for minorities in tech across the industry. We host regular events to foster professional and personal development and create a fun, safe space. We work very hard to engage, support and empower the community at large through mentoring, recruiting, and outreach events on college campuses and at tech conferences with significant minority representation.
TITLE: BQuant Specialist, Desktop Build Group BLOOMBERG OFFICE: San Francisco
How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now? I spent the first five years of my career at leading French banks where, among other things, I designed and implemented technology to automate processes on trading floors. Bloomberg found me on LinkedIn and recruited me to our London office in 2013. I’ve now worked in our San Francisco office for five years.
I’m currently a BQuant Specialist in our Desktop Build Group. In this role, I educate our clients’ quantitative financial researchers, analysts, and data scientists to leverage BQuant, our interactive data analysis and quantitative research platform and new Bloomberg Query Language (BQL). To do this, I first have to understand our clients’ workflows and determine how and where our quant research solutions can help them derive value. Often, we can help clients reduce the amount of time and manual labor spent reviewing financial statements. We can incorporate probability and statistics that help clients make faster and more accurate decisions on their financial strategies. Many times, I create the specifications, design a custom application for a team of about 20-50 users, test the app, and implement it at the client site. Finally, I help train users to program in Python in order to leverage BQuant.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way? It has been challenging finding a Black professional mentor. David Mitchell, a team leader for our market specialists, has been a huge inspiration for me. We both started our careers in finance and moved to tech, so I feel like we have much in common. I appreciate how he reaches out periodically to check in on me. I admire his leadership of Bloomberg’s Black Professional Community and am really impressed by his career trajectory and the network he has built. It’s really important to see a person of color in a senior position because it makes that rank seem attainable for the rest of us.
Sandra Lee, who works in Bloomberg’s Product Oversight Office, has also been an influential mentor since we first met in 2016. She’s been with Bloomberg for more than 20 years, and she has helped me understand Bloomberg’s culture and navigate internal networks. I often use her as a sounding board to help me articulate my vision and get a second opinion. On a personal level, she shows me the value of work-life balance.
What do you love most about working in tech? I love being in a position where I’m learning something. Technology is perpetually evolving, and you always need to be on your toes to remain competitive. I will often think about a complex engineering challenge that I am trying to solve, and will have a candid conversation with a colleague or I will read an article, and then a solution will emerge. I then implement it and it is so satisfying when it works. I also like that tech has tangible results.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you? I am really excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). I love the idea that technology can show us patterns that humans cannot otherwise see because we cannot scrape through large volumes of data as quickly. From there, we can extract specific insights that influence our decision-making.
My interest in AI and ML led me to complete a graduate-level certificate program at the University of San Francisco. While I’m not using these skills in my current role, I’m excited that Bloomberg is doing cutting-edge work in natural language processing and other areas related to ML and AI. I’ve also joined Bloomberg’s Machine Learning Guild so I can stay connected to this technology; otherwise, it is hard to stay on top of it when you don’t apply it on a daily basis.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? One word: R-E-P-R-E-S-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N! We need to see peers and leaders who are people of color. When I don’t see people of color in leadership positions, I feel like it’s less possible to attain success. When I see Black leaders, I get a lot of motivation and affirmation that it could be me one day.
In my experience, people of color aren’t taken as seriously by their peers unless there are other people of color in leadership positions. I personally feel like I need to be better than anyone else in whatever I’m doing. I don’t want to give any opening for the quality of my work to be questioned. For that reason, I often spend extra time double-checking my work in order to make everything is perfect. No one asks me to do this, but I feel I must. This adds a dimension of extra stress because that workflow is not scalable or sustainable and can lead to burnout.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? Life is so much more fulfilling when you can interact with people from different backgrounds and ways of life. At work, a diverse team can help prevent tunnel vision when solving challenges or meeting client needs. Everyone comes with baggage and biases that sometimes makes communication uncomfortable, but this ultimately leads to rich learning experiences.
I’m always trying to recruit and advocate for more underrepresented minority candidates, because we are only likely to stay at Bloomberg if we continue seeing more diversity on our teams.
Jonathan “JC” Charlery
TITLE: Senior Software Engineer BLOOMBERG OFFICE: London
How did you get to Bloomberg? I was on my way to interview with a different company during the career fair at Howard University, when I ran into Kerry Joseph, an engineer who was recruiting for Bloomberg. We got to chatting about the company and he invited me to an info session later that night. What struck me was how down-to-earth and genuine he was. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything; he just talked about his own experiences at the company and how the job allowed him to grow.
In talking about his own background, we discovered we were from neighbouring islands in the Caribbean so we shared a cultural background. Having that conversation, and seeing and hearing someone like me at Bloomberg who had such a positive experience is what really sold me on the company.
What do you work on now? I’m on the Local Development team in London, which is part of our Developer Experience (DevX) group. Our team creates and supports the tools and workflows that allow engineers to develop and test their applications locally on their laptops using whatever tools they prefer, instead of relying on a limited shared environment.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way? Zac Rider, who leads our Real-time Distribution Platform engineering team, and Becky Plummer, a software engineering team leader in DevX (and my current manager) are two of the most influential managers I’ve had during my tenure at Bloomberg. They’ve provided me with many opportunities for growth and helped me build up my confidence in my own abilities. They were instrumental in putting my career on its current trajectory.
Femi Popoola, a technical team lead in London, has also been an amazing mentor to me. We’ve spoken about many different topics related to personal and technical growth, like knowing which opportunities are right for you and how to manage them, to understanding when you’re ready to take on a new challenge (hint: you’re never going to be “ready,” but don’t let that stop you).
What do you love most about working in tech? I love the rate at which everything changes in the tech industry, and the ease of being able to get involved.
The tech industry evolves so quickly that you’ll miss it if you blink. In the last 20 years or so, we’ve gone from having one dedicated phone line per family and maybe having a computer for the household to us all having a computer in our pockets and everyone having a phone. All the information this puts at our fingertips has made it much easier for anyone to become involved and even to transfer into tech-related fields from any profession.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you? Docker and container technologies are particularly interesting to me. The ability to simulate an entire environment and have repeatable declarative processes have really changed the way we think about development, testing, and stability of our systems.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? Without seeing other people who look like them or can stand as a role model for them, people of colour tend to get discouraged from entering the tech industry. It is hard to continue being self-motivated or to believe you can achieve something if all the stereotypical icons don’t represent you in any way. It’s why Kerry stood out to me so much. He was West Indian and able to succeed in the tech industry. This isn’t spoken about often, but it creates a real psychological barrier for many people. Being able to connect with someone who shares your heritage or cultural background, and being able to see yourself in that person, are some of the greatest motivating factors.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? Diversity and inclusion are very important as they provide different perspectives. Having someone who can see something in a different manner and who brings their own background and experiences can help elicit a new style of thinking and new direction when it is needed the most. When all options have seemingly been exhausted, something which may seem intrinsically basic to someone can actually be just what is needed to get things moving again.
How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? I’ve spoken at events aimed at promoting and highlighting diversity and inclusion, as well as been a representative, speaker and mentor at both internal and external events aimed at empowering underprivileged youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM and grow their networks. This includes serving as a mentor to both university students and secondary school students.
I have been an advocate for and given advice about different ways to recruit effectively at select Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) across the U.S. I’ve also attended university career fairs where I directly engage with students, serving not only as a company point of contact for them, but also sharing my experiences with them. I talk to new hires about my career progression and serve as a mentor to help them navigate the company’s culture.
Corporate hiring managers no longer need to argue the case for diversity. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that eight-in-ten Americans value racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace, with 45% of survey respondents citing diverse perspectives and equal opportunity as grounds for increasing diversity. Another 34% see a clear business case for diversity, too, as it leads to a larger pool of potential workers.
Yet, diversity is only a starting point. Inclusion, the behavior that welcomes and supports diversity in corporate culture, goes beyond the obvious missed opportunities for great talent. Inclusion is a necessary tool for growth and competitiveness.
For people of color, coping with discrimination can create the burden of an “emotional tax” in the workplace. This emotional tax is defined as ‘the heightened experience of being treated differently from peers due to race/ethnicity or gender, triggering adverse effects on health and feelings of isolation and making it difficult to thrive at work.’ Nearly 60% of women and men of color have experienced this burden, according to a survey by Catalyst. When employees of any background don’t feel that their perspectives are welcomed and included, the company bottom line can suffer, too.
The Black tax
This emotional tax is often referred to as the “Black Tax,” because of its particular impact on Black people.
Data indicates that, while a majority of Black survey respondents reported facing discrimination, those with college or higher education experience were even more likely to say they have been affected. As many as 62% of Black workers in STEM fields—as compared to 44% of Asians, 42% of Hispanics and 13% of whites—revealed they have experienced various forms of racial or ethnic discrimination at work, including earning less than a coworker with the same role and receiving less support than their peers from managers. When Black workers face racial discrimination, bias, and microaggressions in their daily professional environment, their emotional and financial wellbeing can be affected.
When faced with bias and discrimination, Black workers may feel obligated to code-switch, a method of alternating between ways of self-expression, appearance, and behavior in the workplace, to downplay racial differences and connect with colleagues. This suppression of one’s racial identity can come at the cost of authenticity and self-confidence, and thus, decrease a sense of belonging in a work environment.
This discrimination also forces Black employees to contend with hypervisibility, the feeling of being overly visible for one’s race or ethnicity, while their unique skills and personalities seem invisible to others. While this phenomenon has been an issue for years, its effect is being felt now more than ever in the aftermath of the murders of Black Americans like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, as well as the global Black Lives Matter protests that followed.
Intersectionality of multiple challenges
Facing the intersectional pressures of race and gender bias, Black women, especially, may need to navigate situations of gender bias more carefully, including things like being asked to do office housework or being interrupted while communicating in the workplace. Other situations that stem from racial bias, such as having their hair touched without consent or being told that they are exceptionally articulate or not like others of their race, can also take a toll. A common solution offered to women to thrive in the workplace is to “lean in” or be “more assertive.” However, due to pervasive stereotypes, Black women may be labeled as “angry,” or subjected to racially biased reprisals when speaking up for themselves.
Since the burden to stay vigilant against bias can impact an employee’s self-confidence, career path, and retention within an organization, it’s no surprise that professional and financial repercussions follow. This constant attention can become a job within a job, or, at the very least, an energy-draining distraction. Black employees in non-diverse and non-inclusive workplaces may lack access to the senior leaders and spheres of influence that could provide paths for career progression. The racial wage gap embedded in the corporate system, combined with the diminished opportunity to connect and move forward, can impact earning potential throughout a career.
The Black tax, being pervasive, also threatens the ability of Black families to build generational wealth. When Black employees earn fewer wages than their white counterparts, they have access to fewer opportunities for building net worth—via savings and investing—and ultimately, less to provide for and pass onto their families. As many Black professionals may be the first in their families and communities to have college degrees (along with the access to white-collar income), they often support extended families during their earning years. Thus, the burden of the Black tax can cast a far-reaching shadow over the economic health of Black communities.
The company bottom line takes a hit
Lack of diversity and inclusiveness can weaken the path to management for internal talent and make attracting innovative new stars a challenge. Unspoken pressure on people of color to be more qualified, more professional, and harder working than their colleagues just to be valued on par, can lead to reduced productivity, costly health struggles, and high turnover for this group. Data also indicates that employees who are not carrying that emotional tax burden may also become disenchanted with their organization’s intolerance for diverse POVs and will subsequently leave, as confirmed by 72% percent of respondents surveyed in a Deloitte Poll. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of employees surveyed in an SHRM study felt that the respectful treatment of all employees was a very important factor in their job satisfaction.
Companies that optimize productivity from a wide variety of people tend to perform better than companies that don’t. Exposure to diverse colleagues helps everyone learn to adopt inclusive practices. The results can include increased retention and employee engagement, broader attraction of top talent, better brand image within the community, stronger financial performance, and greater innovation.
Attracting the best talent and connecting with one’s customer base requires acknowledging women of color as an integral part of the available hiring pool. Women and people of color comprise 63% of the population, but account for less than 30% of senior business decision-makers. Women of color also make up the majority of the global female population. While strides toward gender inclusion show that approximately “1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman,” still “only 1 in 25 C-suite executives is a woman of color.”
There are numerous stories of LGBTQ+ excellence, pride, perseverance and success throughout history, but many of these stories have been presented with little and sometimes even inaccurate information. To combat these, researchers across various backgrounds have come together to work with Wikipedia in making these stories as accurate, plentiful and accessible as possible. The Black EOE Journal sat down with one of these experts, Christina Carney to speak about the importance of telling LGBTQ+ stories:
Black EOE Journal (BEOEJ): What’s your background and what made you interested or excited to take part in this project?
Christina Carney (CC): I am an assistant professor of Black Queer Sexuality Studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia. I received my Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I grew up in a Black working-class neighborhood, Bronzeville, on the South Side of Chicago. Overall, my work examines Black women’s sex work in militarized zones. My book, Disreputable Women: Militarized Deviance and the Black Sexual Economy of San Diego, is currently under review at the University of California Press.
I learned about the Wiki Education project while attending the annual American Studies Association (ASA) conference a while back. I wanted to find new ways to improve my teaching pedagogy and creativity in the classroom. I knew that students were bored with traditional papers and exams as well as in-class group work. After talking to the Wiki Education rep at ASA and reading more information online, I became very excited about not only the fun students would have doing the project, but also the fact that I would be learning new skills as well. Learning with my students has been the best part. At the end of the semester, we all, including myself, present our projects to each other. I presented on a new article I developed, “United States v. Ingalls (1947),” which detailed the first Black women who were able to seek redress for sexual trafficking in the 20th century. I also updated other two articles – “Mann Act” and “White Slavery.” This Wiki project not only assisted students with the opportunity to include Black and Feminist Studies scholarship on Wikipedia, but, at the same time, add reliable information that is accessible to a wider audience!
BEOEJ: What has been your team’s process for curating stories from history that highlight and emphasize the legacy and impact of LGBTQ+ communities?
CC: A first step in curating stories is locating the content gaps in the Black Studies and Women’s Studies literatures. During the first week of the school-year, I assign two important articles on sexuality and intersectionality — Stacey Patton’s “Whose Afraid of Black Sexuality?” in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Kimberle Crenshaw’s “Mapping the Margins:
Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence against Women of Color.” In “Who’s Afraid of Black Sexuality?,” Patton gives us a starting point for thinking through how silence about sex and pleasure have left a content gap in Black studies. Black communities have created a culture of dissemblance by which Black sexuality is still considered a taboo topic.
This is not because there is something inherently pathological about Black people’s sexuality, but instead black people choose to remain silent because society continues to weaponize Black sexuality as a way to validate racism and violence. Consequently, these silences often lead to the further marginalization of BIPOC/POC in racial/ethnic groups. In “Mapping the Margins,” Crenshaw explains how people live within multiple identities every day, thereby impacting how much power (or not) they have in society. For example — Black cisgender men disproportionately police violence at alarming rates, the Black queer folx experience violence from members of their own community because of their intersectional identities of sexuality, class, age, etc.
With these frameworks in mind, students then do their own independent research. I allow students to either choose their own topic/page or choose from a list of pages that needs to be updated. For example, one of the student groups updated the page of “William Dorsey Swann (c. 1858 – 1925)” — considered the first recorded drag performer in U.S. history. Most stories about LGBTQ+ pioneers are white, cisgender men with access to certain forms of economic and cultural capital. Unfortunately, queer folx such as Marsha P. Johnson and William Dorsey Swann are often elided in the LGBTQ+ archives. Another group created an entirely new article, “Rogers v. American Airlines (1981).” Rogers v. American Airlines was a 1981 legal case decided by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York involving plaintiff Renee Rogers, a Black woman who brought charges against her employer, American Airlines, for both sex and race discrimination after she was dissuaded from wearing her hair in cornrows due to the airline’s employee grooming policy. The students not only cited sources detailing the politics of Black hair, but also how Black women are unfairly burdened with the responsibility of looking and dressing appropriately for the ‘Black race.’
BEOEJ: How many (and what type of) individuals, experts and organizations had to collaborate for this project to be successful?
CC: During each semester, our class is assigned two Wiki Education experts that assist students with logistical and technical questions or concerns. I then create a semester-long research plan for students which includes full-length books (non-fiction), peer-reviewed journals, lectures, mixed-media and films. I also partnered with the MU librarian who gave a virtual tour to students explaining the research tools available to them. Wikipedia’s Talk Pages was another resource for students because they were able to chat with other content creators. By the end of the Spring 2022 semester, our class of 31 created one new article, edited 22 articles, added 18,200 words and 195 peer-reviewed references which accumulated over 1.25 million article views.
BEOEJ: What were the biggest takeaways from this Wiki project, especially as they relate to intersectionality? What do you hope the public will do with this information?
CC: My biggest takeaway is the realization that high-impact research and knowledge can be accessible to a wider community — and not just limited to the ‘Ivory Tower.’ This is intersectionality in practice! Students are creating access for those who might not otherwise have
the resources to find reliable information. Student creators become the conduits for linking reliably sourced material to a global audience for free.
BEOEJ: How can LGBTQ+-owned and operated businesses and suppliers use this information to make a difference in their respective industries?
CC: I think it’s important to not just to talk about equality — but also discuss equity. For example, what are we doing in our everyday practice to make sure the most disadvantaged people in our communities and neighborhoods have access to the same information as a college professor or researcher in STEM? I think that is becoming more important every day.
If you’re seeking ways to build community in your business amongst your employees and offer opportunities for them to grow and develop, it’s time to consider creating employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs are employee-led groups that foster inclusivity and belonging within an organization and promote personal and professional growth and advancement.
While the premise is simple, the overall, measurable difference they can make in recruiting and retaining worthwhile talent is invaluable. What Defines an ERG? To be an ERG, the employees who are members share a common background. For example, an ERG can be formed with members who share a race, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ orientation or identity, military or veteran status, socioeconomic background, home or regional background, religion or even those who live with a disability. The purpose is not to be exclusionary. On the contrary, the intent is to help members integrate into the larger organization through advocacy and mutual support and encouragement.
Allyship is also a key component of ERGs, and, sometimes, those who don’t share the same commonality of the ERG members are still offered an invitation to join as an ally within the company. Some companies will pay employees to lead ERGs; however, that is usually not the case. Leaders typically volunteer for the opportunity to make a difference in their workplace atmosphere and culture. Some excellent ERG examples are:
· Working Parents group
· Race/Ethnicity group:
o Black, African, Caribbean
o Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)
o Native, Indigenous, First Nation
· Professional Women’s group
· Interfaith group
Why Have an ERG? It’s simple. ERGs create pockets of safe space and understanding between those with a shared identity. An underrepresented group in your company might face specific obstacles or concerns. Having an ERG allows the group members to confide in one another, problem solve and choose a course of action that will enable them to advocate for themselves and express their needs. They can also share resources and support each other in their career advancement or offer advice or mentorship on navigating company policies and procedures. Furthermore, ERGs build a culture of community and belonging within the framework of the larger company.
How to Support an ERG? There are many ways to support your company’s employee resource groups. Start by encouraging new hires to join; mention the benefits of the group at initial orientation or during training. Follow up the formation of ERGs by providing them with free professional and personal development courses to help them gain valuable skills. Since many of your workers may have limited time between professional and personal responsibilities, allow them to form their employee resource group on the clock.
Meet with your accounting team to figure out how to provide financial resources to assist them with materials needed for advertising and holding meetings. Also, you can create a diversity council that works with the ERG leaders to develop equity and inclusion goals for the company to make a better workplace culture and atmosphere for everyone. Finally, hiring more diverse employees makes it easier to promote practices, policies, and changes that encourage understanding and empathy. Employee resource groups are an excellent tool to recruit and retain competitive talent. It’s time for your organization to consider creating or finding ways to better support ERGs in your business
With offices around the world, Bloomberg provides its employees with opportunities to hone their skills and expertise, progress to new roles, take on stretch assignments, and gain valuable insights through their work.
Below, a few of our female leaders share their career experiences, including working in different offices, experiencing new cultures, building support networks, and their advice on how to progress, professionally and personally.
Pictured top left Data training & development
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at multiple offices in different business units and meet amazing colleagues and managers who support me. Most pivotal was probably the move from the Tokyo office to New York as a team leader. The office and business size, language, and lifestyle are so different. I had to learn and adapt. Managers and colleagues in New York welcomed and helped me; colleagues in Tokyo connected me to their networks so that I could build new relationships with people in the US office.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
Always be curious. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you can build connections with and learn from. This year, I’ve taken on a new role, joining the Data Training and Development team in Dubai. When I was in Japan, I never imagined living in Dubai, but new opportunities always come up, as long as we are inquisitive and never stop learning.
Pictured top middle West Africa bureau chief Accra, Ghana
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
Seeking out feedback. Most people find it difficult to give candid feedback, so it helps to show that you’re open to it. Also, training your ear to sift out emotions and other distractions and extracting information you can actually use will help you become a better professional, and person. Both my best managers and closest friends have been people who give helpful feedback. I think that’s a gift.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
I definitely have my community: people who I trust to have my back and who can rely on me to do the same. That comes from investing in relationships over time. So, when you make a strong connection with someone, don’t take that for granted. Build your community.
Pictured top right
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I can’t stress enough how important teamwork is in what we do. Throughout my years at Bloomberg, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing people across different countries and cultures. With each role, you develop new skills and learn from those around you. So even when things feel difficult and challenging, just know you’ll come out stronger on the other side!
What piece of advice would you give to others?
Be open to taking on new challenges. Bloomberg is an exciting place to work, one where you know you can’t get too comfortable in one spot because things change and you might find yourself taking on a different role, or one in a different office, country or continent. In an ever-moving world, we constantly need to reinvent ourselves and learn along the way.
Pictured bottom left Bureau chief
Buenos Aires, Argentina
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I started as an intern in 2015 in New York and in September of that year I moved to Argentina to cover markets, first with a focus on bonds, and later dedicating more time to publicly-traded companies. Since 2019, I’ve overseen Bloomberg’s coverage of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, managing a team of six talented journalists who routinely break news on the biggest stories in the country.
When I look back to things that helped me advance in my career, I think about the importance of being open to new projects and opportunities and putting my hand up to participate. Bloomberg is a very fast-paced environment, where priorities and internal structures change every few years, and it’s important to be flexible and find ways to contribute to the latest projects. In my case, that has meant everything from jumping to cover regional conferences, moderating panel events, doing live radio and TV hits for Bloomberg shows, developing local Spanish-language coverage, and delving into new key coverage areas, like start-ups.
I also feel grateful to my managers and mentors, who encouraged me to get involved with projects beyond my comfort zone, take on different responsibilities, and consider the jump into a management role.
Pictured bottom left Head of China Market Specialists
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
Not shying away from challenges. In my career, I’ve needed to face gaps and problems beyond my primary responsibilities many times. And, while I might not be the expert to solve a problem, I never shy away from it. As long as a challenge is crucial to the business, I always speak up, take full ownership, and move forward to solve it.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
See changes as opportunities. At Bloomberg, changes happen daily. Market, product, even team structure are constantly evolving. I have seen people react negatively to changes, but the ones who can turn changes into opportunities are always rewarded at the end.
Pictured bottom middle Executive editor, Bloomberg News
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
A mixture of good luck and hard work. I’m very fortunate to have had supportive bosses throughout my career, who have repeatedly encouraged me to take on new and bigger projects (and helped me find ways to get them done).
For my part, I’ve tried to repay that good will by saying yes to opportunities when they’re offered and then being diligent about getting those things done.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
When you’re looking to change something about your job – whether it’s a new role or a move to a different bureau, you should think about what’s in it for your manager. Or the person you want to be your next manager. The more you can explain how they’ll benefit by giving you what you want, the more likely you are to get it.
Now more than ever, a record number of HBCU graduates are thriving in positions of leadership and authority. HBCU graduates are leaders in every field and include barrier-breaking public servants, scientists, artists, lawyers, engineers, educators and business owners. Several HBCU graduates serve in senior roles in the Biden-Harris Administration including the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Vice President Kamala Harris — the first HBCU graduate ever to serve as Vice President of the United States.
Despite this record of success, disparities in resources and opportunities for HBCUs and their students persist, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted continuing and new challenges for HBCUs. As commencement ceremonies are celebrated across the country, thousands of graduates are beginning to enter the workforce, search for jobs and seek ways to apply their new skillset. But thanks to a new White House initiative and the dedication of the Department of Labor, an array of opportunities has opened up to these graduates, no matter the discipline.
Agencies among the Department of Labor, such as the Women’s Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), are recruiting recent HBCU graduates to come and work for their organizations.
“A lot of our minorities who attend HBCUs aren’t aware of the opportunities to work in the federal government,” Roxanne Griffith, a regional administrator with the Women’s Bureau, told WTOP News, “Even as a young person, I thought the federal government was a far reach for me, and it’s a whole lot closer than a lot of people think.”
While many believe that a government employee needs to have an extensive political science background to work in a federal position, this is not the case. In fact, the Department of Labor is looking to hire HBCU graduates from an array of specialties and concentrations from political science and economics to business and STEM focuses, women and gender studies, and everything in between.
Government jobs are also favorable as they provide stability and flexibility that can often be difficult to find in the workplace. Federal positions are known to pay fair wages and offer paid sick and vacation times, plus they are flexible with different kinds of schedules. They also provide health and retirement benefits that are often difficult to find in the workforce.
This recruitment is part of one of the White House’s recent initiatives dedicated to advancing opportunities for those attending and affiliated with a Historically Black College or University. The initiative is working closely with the President’s Executive Office on crucial Administration priorities related to advancing educational equity, excellence and economic opportunity through HBCUs. They have partnered with HBCU leaders, representatives, students and alumni.
The Department of Labor’s newest recruitment strategy is also in compliance with the initiative’s three areas of primary focus:
· Programs are embedded, ongoing and longer-term activities singularly owned by the initiative that are generally singularly delivered by the initiative but can be collaboratively delivered with others.
· Projects are finite-duration, discretionary actions, often outside the initiative’s, federal agencies’ or private sector actors’ day-to-day organizational activities; they are designed to accelerate the desired performance in a targeted area. These short-term efforts are generally jointly owned and delivered by the initiative with others and act as boosters to accelerate HBCU competitiveness.
· Policies are influential actors’ written or oral expressions of important public objectives and priorities. These actors can be public sector (e.g., local, state and federal executive/ legislative/agency) or private sector (e.g., industry/philanthropy/education/advocacy).
In adhering to these initiatives, HBCUs hope to provide more opportunities for success for their students and advocation for diversity in every workplace.
To learn more about educational opportunities for HBCU students and graduates, visit sites.ed.gov/whhbcu.
Sources: Department of Education, WTOP News, The White House, Partnership for Public Service (Go Government)
The second installment of Bloomberg’s Power of Difference series on Black wealth offered a deep dive into issues that impact intergenerational Black wealth transfer. The three part series, hosted by Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeks to highlight and encourage dialogue about the structures that aid in Black wealth accumulation and extraction.
Speakers discussed why wealth transfer remains pivotal to building wealth in the United States and explained how the historical lack of opportunity for Black families to preserve and pass on wealth has contributed to the prevalence of racial wealth inequality today.
Inherited wealth plays a pivotal role in advancing the economic launch point for future generations. Despite the pervasiveness of the American rags to riches story, the wealthiest families have certainly benefited from this capital infusion power–about 30% of the Forbes 400 inherited at least $50 million. Middle and working-class families can use transferred capital and assets to boost emergency savings, make down payments on homes, pay tuition for private schools and higher education, and invest in the financial markets or new entrepreneurship.
Black families, however, are five times less likely than white families to receive a sizable inheritance. When they do, the amount is still typically three times lower on average than what white families receive. This disparity has contributed to Black Americans falling behind in wealth accumulation while white generational peers are empowered to move towards further economic stability and advancement. Black families have certainly been capable of growing assets even in the shadow of Jim Crow and other forms of systemic racism that persist to this day. So why haven’t they been able to hold on to this wealth and pass it to their heirs?
Before the Race Massacre of 1921, the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a vibrant, thriving community of Black residents, like many of the “Freedmen’s Towns, and “Freedom Colonies established after the Civil War. Families there owned land, operated businesses, and ran community-sustaining institutions to create property wealth with an estimated value of over $200 million in today’s dollars, earning Greenwood the moniker “Black Wall Street.” When the Greenwood neighborhood was burned to ashes during a violent racial attack, hundreds of residents lost their lives and businesses, thousands of survivors were left homeless and impoverished, and many of them were hunted down, executed, or imprisoned. Laws were passed by the city of Tulsa to impede the rebuilding of Greenwood by survivors and their families. The most disheartening part of Greenwood’s story: this was not an uncommon occurrence.
In Chicago alone, approximately 1,000 Black homes and businesses were burned down during the Red Summer of 1919, a season of racism-fueled on Black communities across the nation. The segregation and violence of Jim Crow, in particular, have been theorized to have had a pervasive impact, stifling Black innovation and entrepreneurship with the threat of violent reprisal for Black wealth building.
In the latest Power of Difference event, speakers discussed how racially driven violence toward Black people like in Tulsa, Chicago, and elsewhere — particularly during the several decades following the abolishment of slavery — was used to rob Black people, destroy their property and intimidate them from building wealth. Government policies, local and federal, often neglected to protect Black communities from this ongoing threat, and instead have codified many racially discriminatory policies such as redlining, government seizures under eminent domain, and disenfranchisement. In turn, such practices have systematically destroyed and eroded the value of Black wealth since the Reconstruction era, with the effects felt to this day.
Pathways to recovery and resilience
Despite economic impediments and discriminatory policies, strategic options and vehicles for securing assets can help more Black families strengthen the economic mobility of future generations. Session speakers painted a detailed picture of how to address these systemic injustices: loopholes in state property inheritance laws can be closed; discriminatory institutional practices and local ordinances, such as those that might assign more value to land according to who owns it, can be revoked; and concentrations of wealth in Black communities, like those created in Greenwood can be systematically encouraged through initiatives that can start at the individual level.
Sean Anderson, a curator from The Museum of Modern Art, discussed the Reconstructions, Architecture, and Blackness in America exhibition he created with scholar and architect Mabel Wilson and 11 Black architects, designers and artists. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the project aims to encourage reflection on how Black communities strive to build and rebuild in the face of economic and social challenges, and “…how history can be made visible and equity can be built”. The exhibition sparks questions about topics such as “What might our nation look like today if all-Black towns of the past had been allowed to thrive?” and “How might Black community spaces be used to prepare for threats imposed by climate change?”
Reggie Lee, Partner and Chief Transformation Officer at The Carlyle Group described the ten-year journey he took to reclaim the family land that his great grandmother, a formerly enslaved person, had purchased during the Reconstruction era. His story serves as a case study for reclaiming and preserving family-owned assets. For example, to keep the newly reclaimed property intact for future generations, using a trust to ensure legacy building.
The panel Q&A delved into reasons for the continued loss of Black assets and different ways better laws, policies, and individual practices could help reverse this trend. Lack of wills and vehicles like trusts, for example, can make family land and other asset claims vulnerable to loopholes in policies, such as heirs property laws (aka ownership in common) or inheritance taxes. However, it is estimated that 70% of Black Americans do not have a will or estate plan.