When Krystal Shaw needed to help support her family, she turned to what she knew best, fashion. Little did she know she would turn her passion for fashion into a thriving business, a clothing company for children with special needs.
When Krystal Shaw needed to help support her family, she turned to what she knew best, fashion. Little did she know she would turn her passion for fashion into a thriving business, a clothing company for children with special needs.
By Refinery 29
Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Bianca Kea was acutely aware that outside of her family, there were no other Afro-Latinxs that looked like her. No one she could relate to or look up to. But that all changed when she moved to New York City.
“Moving to New York City was such an eye-opening experience,” she recalls. “And it was the first time somebody actually identified me as Afro-Latina — I had never heard the term before, and I was able to learn about my heritage, my history as an Afro-Mexicana.” Her experience — the realization and recognition of being Afro-Latina, of being both Black and Mexican, and not feeling like she had to choose one or the other — led to her launching Yo Soy AfroLatina, an online platform and lifestyle brand that celebrates “Afro-Latinidad in the Americas and validates our hermanas’ experience.” It was born out of not seeing herself represented and wanting to create something that would not only make an impact on the culture, but also cultivate a community. “We all have different experiences — we’re not a monolith — and it’s important for people to understand what it means to be at the intersection of two beautiful cultures,” Kea says. “I hope we’re able to break down stereotypes, empower people, and allow them to be Afro-Latina. Just be yourself.”
That’s why Refinery29 is partnering with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple to produce Valiente Y Fuerte — a video campaign designed to amplify the voices of Latinx creatives like Kea who inspire us every day. Watch the video above for more information about Yo Soy AfroLatina — and how Kea is turning her passion into a legacy.
Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.
We often think of inclusion as only existing within professional or social circles, forgetting that it must also go a step further. In that spirit, the Black EOE Journal spent five minutes with Deidra Smith of MDee Beauty, a makeup company that is passionate about diversity without giving up on quality.
Black EOE Journal (BEOEJ): Where did your inspiration for MDee Beauty come from and what makes it stand out from the crowd?
Deidra Smith (DS): As a child I used to watch my mother put on her makeup, I dreamed of the day when I could do the same. From there my passion for skin care and the way I look took on a whole new meaning. It was more than just the way it made me feel, it was who I became once I became an adult. Skin care, the importance of lipstick all touched parts of me and what I deemed important. It was from that background the inspiration for MDee Beauty was born. I have used many products, never finding one with sustainability. There were many that became my favorite until later finding out that something in the formula had changed to make it no longer fit my needs. So, it was then that I started researching and later developing a formula that fit not only my needs but also that of other women who felt the same as me.
What makes us stand out from the crowd is basically the love that we put into the products. We have addressed issues of sustainability and longevity. Our ingredients are natural and good for the health of your lips. To enhance the lip care, we have subtle and bold colors that make this the perfect product that women who feel the same as I do, would want to consider.
BEOEJ: You’ve shared your views previously on the import of diversity and inclusion reform in the workforce. Why should businesses and business owners want to consider diversity, equity and inclusion when thinking in terms of their workforce, supply chain or mastermind group?
DS: I’ve been on both sides of this question as an employee and employer. I have been overlooked as a female and as a black female. I’ve been made to think that my ideas and what I had to say didn’t matter. It was kind of like when they tell kids, just be seen and not heard. Everyone’s voice needs and should be heard especially in the workforce on your team. Everyone’s background, experience and culture creates a product of inclusiveness, not only in the office but also for the market we are trying to reach. As the employer, I know that I don’t know everything, that’s why I surround myself with motivated, opinionated and diversity in thought. If you continue to do things the way they were done in the past, how do we get to the future?
BEOEJ: What can entrepreneurs or solopreneurs do to be a part of the change?
DS: Listen to the ideas of all. Decisions on what ethic groups like and don’t like can’t be made without those ethic groups being part of the conversation. Get it right the first time with inclusion of thought.
BEOEJ: Why, is not only the quality of your products, but also their sustainability, important to your company? What does sustainability mean to you as a business owner?
DS: There’s lot of good products out there but most don’t last. As women when we leave our homes, we want to look good all day. Looking and feeling a certain way we should expect it to last all day, maybe with a little touch up. We want you to be confident that your look can last all day. We did that. Our product is built on healthiness, vibrant colors and sustainability. It is our goal to keep you looking good all day long. Sustainability means that I stand behind my products. If you read the reviews MDee Beauty should be a staple in your beauty regimen. With the glowing reviews we have received thus far, it is evident that our company has sustainably, as the MDee Beauty roots continue to grow in the cosmetic industry. My goal is to continue to provide a quality product that people will purchase without reservation.
To learn more about Deidre and MDee Beauty, you can visit their website at mdeebeauty.com.
Photo Credit: Anthony Sealey
This coming Black History Month, we want to recognize some of the individuals who have been making momentous strides to fight for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities and differences.
Here are some of the changemakers:
Aaron Philip Rose
(Pictured top right) At just 21 years old, model and author, Aaron Rose Philip is the first Black, transgender and physically disabled model to ever be represented by a major modeling agency. She has not only worked with some of the biggest fashion brands in the world, working with Marc Jacobs, Moschino and Vogue on a regular basis, but she also authors several articles in notable publications to advocate for inclusion in her industry.
Philip, who has cerebral palsy and identifies as a transgender woman, has additionally worked with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Samantha Bee, Naomi Campbell and Beyoncé to provide representation for an even larger audience. This year, she made history by becoming the first model to use a wheelchair to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.
“People can no longer say it’s just a small moment in time,” Philip told Vogue of her modeling work, “It’s done and look at how normal it looks now that it has happened. Look at how good and popular and cool it is. My vision isn’t complicated; I’m just a 20-something-year-old, and I’m a model who’s ready to work.”
Photo Credit: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images
Sources: Vogue, Wikipedia
(Pictured bottom left) Gaining millions of streams across platforms and in the media, Lachi’s music can be heard in numerous television, film, radio and other media spots of various sorts. But Lachi is more than just a talented musician, she is an advocate for inclusion in the music industry, using her own experiences with vision loss to break barriers. In 2017, Lachi began using her platform to speak and perform regularly at Disability Pride events and festivals — working to promote disability representation and inclusion in media and advocating for disability visibility on national diversity and inclusion panels. In 2021, she took her advocacy a step further by founding the Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD) coalition, a group of creators and professionals with disabilities working to make musical events more inclusive and accessible to people of disabilities. They have since worked with numerous organizations and events to not only promote disability inclusion, but to actively make events more accessible.
Their most well-known partnership was with the 64th Grammy Awards, which ensured that the show has a visible ramp to the stage, ASL interpretation on the red carpet and live caption and audio description for viewers at home. “I’m walking full force into advocacy for the disabled,” Lachi said in an interview with Respectability, “with music and entertainment as my vehicle.”
Photo Credit: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images The Meteor
Sources: Respectability, Wikipedia
(Pictured bottom right) Haben Girma has been advocating for herself since she attended elementary school in Oakland, California. After advocating for her right to choose her own meals at her undergraduate university, after being denied the privilege for being a deafblind person, Girma decided that she wanted to become an advocate for people with disabilities. In 2013, Girma graduated from Harvard Law School, becoming the first deafblind person to ever do so. She used her knowledge and experiences to become a civil rights advocate for disability rights and a public speaker who travels the country changing people’s perceptions of the disability community in the media. Besides speaking on behalf of the importance of representation, Girma is a passionate advocate for educational equality for people with disabilities.
Her work to foster equity and inclusion has earned her partnerships with several organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind, and many prestigious honors from Forbes 30 under 30 and the Obama Administration.
Photo Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic
Sources: Wikipedia, Respectability
(Pictured bottom middle) You may know Montel Williams from one of his numerous television or film appearances, but when he isn’t on camera, Williams is dedicated to giving back to his various communities, one of which is for multiple sclerosis (MS). In 1999, Williams was diagnosed with MS, within that same year he founded the Montel Williams MS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that finances organizations and institutions working to research, raise awareness and educate the public about multiple sclerosis. Since his diagnoses, Williams decided to turn his focus and outreach to health and wellness related issues. He began writing a series of books where he openly spoke on his experiences, used his interview opportunities to bring awareness to MS and eventually co-created the Partnership For Prescription Assistance, a program connecting uninsured and underinsured people with programs that provide lower-cost medicines.
Today, Williams dedicates much of his work towards spreading awareness and providing assistance, finding new opportunities to create conversations and form further partnerships into MS research.
Photo Credit: Lars Niki/Getty Images for Athena Film Festival
Sources: Wikipedia, Montel Williams MS Foundation, MM+M
(Pictured top left) Page is a highly accomplished journalist, Pulitzer-winning syndicated columnist for the Tribune network. His work has been showcased in some of the biggest news outlets in the country such as the Chicago Tribune, NBC, ABC and BET’s Lead Story. He is also an African American who identifies as having Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), which can affect basic functioning due to hyperactivity and a pattern of inattention. As one of the 28 percent of African and Black Americans with disabilities to be employed in the United States, Page uses his platform to not only normalize having ADHD in the workplace, but to break down misconceptions around the condition. In fact, Page thinks that having ADHD helped him become a successful journalist. “I have a tireless curiosity about people in general, and I love to find interesting stories,” he stated in an interview with Respectability. “I’m no expert, but those characteristics seem to go productively well with the symptoms of ADHD.” Page has also spoken openly about the intersectionality of being Black and having ADHD in his book, Positively ADD, where he discusses about ADHD isn’t “wrong” or “bad,” but a different way of the brain working.
“Think of your diagnosis not as a ceiling on your abilities but as a floor beneath your opportunities,” Page says to others with ADHD, “Never use your condition as an excuse to avoid trying new tasks and pursuing new goals. Face reality: You always will face different challenges from most other people. But you also have more opportunities than any previous generation.”
Photo Credit:Kris Connor/Getty Images
By Black News
Meet Nynoka Grant, founder and CEO of Akoyn Beauty, an Atlanta-based Black-owned company that manufactures vegan-friendly personal care specialty products that are especially for women. Their premium soaps, skin creams, and body butter are handmade from the finest all-natural ingredients. Now, more than ever, taking care of yourself and remaining stress-free is a priority.
Nynoka comments, “Women are indeed running the world, wielding political power but also facing unfair burdens during the global pandemic. Some women are working from home while homeschooling children. Others are essential workers. Women across the world are remaining indoors for safety reasons. Pandemic life is different, and everyone has adjusted. However, self-care is not optional.”
She continues, “This is not the time to abandon everyday beauty routines. Caring for your skin must be part of a twice-daily ritual, and the right all-over-body products can keep every inch of your skin nourished.”
Her company’s Hydrating Body Balm and Moisturizer help to improve and maintain skin tone and texture, naturally, without harsh ingredients. Aside from aesthetics, healthy skin signals overall health. Women must take time for themselves. Women are so bogged down with responsibilities, bath time may be the only private time, but caring for others requires that you make yourself a priority.
Nynoka says she wants every woman tasked with taking care of someone else to make themselves a priority. “You need to because they need you,” she says. “Our products are invigorating. Lift your spirits. Lavish your skin with much-needed attention. Refresh twice a day to experience softer, smoother skin, and enjoy the delicate signature fragrance you’ll be glad to call your own.”
Akoyn Beauty’s products are created for every skin complexion, skin tone, and skin type—dry skin and sensitive skin. Available in Elegant Lavender, Pink Cranberry, Tropical Fruit, and Minty Lime, these signature fragrances are designed and infused with essential oils to make women feel wonderful.
Click here to read the full article on Black News.
By Press Release, Advisor
Marketing professor and wine business researcher, Monique Bell, Ph.D., has released an inaugural study of Black wine entrepreneurs that captures survey data collected in the aftermath of the global pandemic and civil unrest in 2020. Survey participants, who represent a diverse spectrum of businesses and professional expertise, completed the online survey in late 2020 amidst pandemic-related losses and renewed civil rights and “buy Black” movements.
The Terroir Noir: 2020 Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs survey respondents answered multiple questions related to their motivations for wine entrepreneurship, experiences with racism and other challenges, perceptions of the wine industry’s inclusion efforts, business strategies and practices, and the impacts of COVID-19. Black-owned wineries account for less than 1 percent of all U.S. wineries, while Black people typically make up more than 10 percent of American wine consumers. A majority of survey participants (43%), which represent wineries and other wine businesses, report that financial capital is the primary business roadblock to their business. Bias/racism was cited by 20% as the number one challenge, in general, for Black wine businesses. Further, more than half of respondents (58%) are neutral or disagree that the wine industry is taking meaningful action to be more inclusive of underrepresented groups.
“I am grateful to the Black wine business community for welcoming me during a very trying time and sharing their valuable insights for this important study,” says Bell, who performed the research during a sabbatical at the Fresno State Craig School of Business and subsequently founded Wyne Belle Enterprises. “The opportunity to connect with wine entrepreneurs inspires me to pursue further research and has opened pathways to increase exposure to and awareness about underrepresented groups in traditionally exclusive industries.”
The survey is the first of its kind among trade reports and academic examinations, and it will be followed by studies of Black wine professionals and consumers, respectively. Bell and her California State University colleagues, including Liz Thach, Ph.D., M.W., of Sonoma State, are currently analyzing more than 40 in-depth interviews with Black wine entrepreneurs.
“In illuminating Black entrepreneurs in the wine industry, Dr. Bell has identified an important gap in the global wine industry and in our collective knowledge about wine entrepreneurship,” says Liz Thach, Distinguished Professor of Wine and Professor of Management, Sonoma State. “As a wine business educator, writer, and consultant, I’ve sought to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to the forefront, and the Terroir Noir study will help further the industry’s progress.”
It was through Bell’s research that she met Angela McCrae, founder of Uncorked & Cultured, and joined the media platform centered on wine, wellness, culture, and adventure as Chief of Cultural Insights and Partnerships. McCrae and Bell, both graduates of Morgan State University, launched the Sip Consciously Directory, a comprehensive resource of more than 100 Black entrepreneurs in the three-tier wine distribution chain. Importantly, the directory enhances Black visibility in the $70 billion wine industry where less than 1% of wineries are Black-owned. The evolving resource connects wine lovers with Black-owned brands, distributors, and retailers, and is complemented by the growing Sip Consciously YouTube video series.
“With knowledge there is power, so it’s important for Uncorked & Cultured to be a destination and resource for consumers and the greater wine industry to understand Black wine entrepreneurs exist and the challenges we face in the industry,’ says Angela McCrae. “We’re filling a void and creating solutions to connect, not just Black winemakers and entrepreneurs with consumers, but also with mainstream brands and major distributors for an opportunity to tap into a far too often overlooked demographic.”
Click here to read the full article on the Advisor.
By Yvette Montoya
When we consider the state of the United States in 2022 both socially and economically, it’s clear that our demographic is shifting and that Americans believe that social responsibility is more important than ever.
Companies that want to stay relevant in this economy need to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives. A 2017 Cone Communications CSR study stated that 87 percent of consumers would purchase a product that aligned with their own values, and 76 percent would boycott a brand if it supported an issue that went against their beliefs. So, it’s a good time for companies to evaluate what their corporate social responsibility (CSR) looks like and where it needs improvement.
There are four types of corporate social responsibility: Environmental, philanthropic, ethical and economic responsibility– and supplier diversity programs have the potential to achieve all four categories. In a world that’s increasingly looking to employers to create stability and treat employees fairly, supplier diversity programs not only give companies a competitive edge but also make them more likely to maintain high standards of ethics. Implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) positions businesses to create a positive experience for employees, vendors and the community at large.
Here are three reasons why every company should take supplier diversity programs seriously:
- You Get to Be a Leader in Social Responsibility
Companies that choose to focus intentionally on investing in Black and Latinx, women-owned, and LGBTQ+ businesses build trust with their customer base and inspire other business leaders to examine their own company practices. When we create transparency related to how products are sourced and/or hiring and management practices, we put our money where our mouth is, and so will your customers. According to Cone Communications, three out of five Americans believe that companies should spearhead social and environmental change. And eighty-seven percent of Americans said they’d buy a product because a company advocated for an issue they care about.
Although there may be some challenges in finding minority-owned vendors that comply with a buyer’s procurement requirements, there are two solutions to this. One being creating mentoring and training programs for diverse suppliers to help them meet the standards of the certification process. The other is to partner with relevant councils and chambers of commerce that provide these support systems. When value is created through tangible solutions, everyone wins.
- Investing in DEI will Foster Innovation and Sales
Treating DEI like an option or something that isn’t deserving of attention means that customers will see that you’re not taking your CSR seriously. Corporate social responsibility initiatives can be the best public relations — as well as marketing — tool. Gen Z and Millennials are experts at spotting inauthenticity. A company that positions authentically with real company-wide efforts and accountability will be viewed favorably in the eyes of consumers, investors and regulators. Honest initiatives attract opportunities and employees that match an organization’s convictions.
CSR initiatives can also improve employee engagement and satisfaction — key measures that drive retention. Finally, corporate social responsibility initiatives by nature force business leaders to examine practices related to how they hire and manage employees, source products or components and deliver value to customers. All of these things create happy employees and customers, which lead to innovation, sales and a good reputation.
- You Get to Make an Impact on Structural Inequality in America
Supplier diversity programs are a catalyst for true social impact because thriving small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. Strong local businesses create jobs and higher wages, which put money back into the community and drive economic growth. Another plus of supplier diversity is the impact it will have on the company at large and the economy overall. Supplier diversity promotes healthy competition by increasing the pool of possible suppliers. This can lead to potentially lower costs and a better product quality. Not only that, bringing in people from different backgrounds or from backgrounds that reflect the community your company serves can result in better marketing, unique solutions to old problems, as well as innovative ways to meet your customer’s needs.
With midterm elections underway, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on the right side of key issues, including racial and gender equality and environmental sustainability. This gives corporations the opportunity to work collaboratively with businesses in a way that combats racial discrimination, all while empowering the public, creating economic opportunity and enhancing their business.
Yvette Montoya is a Los Angeles native and journalist who is equal parts content creator and writer. She covers everything from issues of spirituality and politics to beauty and entertainment. Her journalistic work has been featured on Refinery29, Teen Vogue, ArtBound, HipLatina, Mitu, and she’s a regular contributor for POPSUGAR.
By Alexa Imani Spencer, Yahoo! Finance
Rachael Palmer is behind Google’s partnership strategy with venture capitalists and startups throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Her track record includes the launch of a $2 million fund for Black founders in Europe and a $3 million scheme in Africa, Business Insider reported.
“My role focuses on driving partnerships with the region’s top VCs and startup but also working on initiatives to transform the ecosystem for the better,” Palmer told Insider.
Before she joined Google, she worked at Microsoft and American Express. She spent plenty of time working with small businesses at the latter. As an internal consultant at Google, she “quickly found my back to working within the startup ecosystem”
Every day is different and far from typical, she told Insider.
“I spend some days working closely with founders to understand their business and how we can help them, or with internal product teams discussing opportunities to engage the VC and startup ecosystem,” she said. “Another day might be spent with a VC learning more about their portfolio companies, how we can partner and also what they look for in investments.”
Palmer shared her top five tips for businesses seeking to work with Google.
1. Keep Google’s users in mind
For startup founders hoping to secure an investment from Google, Palmer’s main tip is to ensure you have something to offer the company’s users.
“I meet many startups that want to get their content or product built into Search,” she said. “However, they often fail to step back and think about what’s in it for our users and how it enhances the product. For a partnership to work, it has to be mutually beneficial to both sides.”
2. Do your company values align with Google’s?
For Palmer, it’s important for her to get to know what’s in “the DNA of a company.”
“I really care about its values and how closely it meshes with Google,” she said. “In a pre-COVID world, I used to enjoy a visit to the offices as you can tell a lot about a company through seeing where and how they work.”
3. Think seriously about diversity
Palmer said about picking venture capitalist business partners, “I obviously care deeply about their ability to pick winners but I also care about their perspective on diversity.”
4. Think locally and globally
Palmer said she’s always been impressed by the go-to market strategies of EMEA-based startups.
“They often establish themselves in their home country then quickly create the blueprint for expansion by becoming really good at localization, developing local partnerships and navigating regulatory situations in different markets.”
5. Expect competition
Large companies like Google have rival founders and interested venture capitalists in numbers. This year’s Black founder initiative is one example.
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.
By Sharita Humphrey
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.
For more information about NMSDC visit, nmsdc.org
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.”
Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.
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.
By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
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