How to ‘Really’ Attract Diverse Candidates

Where Is Your Welcome Sign?

Ideas On How To Become A More Attractive Employer

By Anthony J. Wright


Some employers have welcome signs. And unfortunately, some do not.


When talented individuals are assessing their career options, they look for obvious “welcome” signs. These individuals want some assurance that they are genuinely supposed to be a part of any new organization. Like in any establishment, if we don’t feel welcome, we eventually leave.


As an African American male, I have always assessed organizations based on the diversity within their leadership teams (which in my case, also includes the organization’s board of directors). While there are many different criteria that I use before engaging with a new employer or vendor, assessing organizational diversity will always be among my top three.


I’ve also learned over the years that a homogenous work environment is usually a sign of intolerance. Quite frankly, in today’s political environment, it can also be a bit scary. Further, a lack of diversity can also signal inadequate strategic thinking, as most of us know that diverse workgroups offer wider experiences and sparks tremendous innovation over the long run.


Why then, do so many organizations – especially non-profits – fail to invest in diversity initiatives? While the answer to this question may vary, let’s focus on those firms who get it right. Their results are impressive.

Locate Diverse Executives & Professionals

A recent study by McKinsey & Company sampled the outcomes of approximately 1,000 organizations and determined that firms who invested in diversity had higher profits. Specifically, it was concluded that firms in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to have above-average profitability, according to the report. The same is essentially true for gender diversity.


The least diverse companies are 29% less likely to perform. Go figure.


Diverse applicants in any talent pipeline can recite these statistics (and many others) without effort. These individuals almost always prefer forward-leaning organizations. And, during stronger than usual economic conditions, individuals in the talent pipeline can be a bit more thoughtful about their next career move. They will almost always opt to work in a welcoming environment.


Many firms unknowingly communicate to diverse audiences that they are not welcome. It only takes a small amount of effort, and potentially a little courage, to make positive change. As America (i.e., your customer) becomes more diverse, it just makes sense for organizations to start thinking more strategically.  




Finding the Right Mentor!

Finding the Right Mentor

By Matt D'Angelo, Business News Daily


Finding the right mentor is not really a secret to success – it's as obvious as it is essential. Learning from someone older, wiser and more experienced is an invaluable business opportunity, whether you've just started your first job or you're halfway through your career. As we slip into the day-to-day routine of working life, it's easy to get lost in the moment – our problems are 6 inches from our face, and a mentor can be the person to reset things so we can look at our careers and growth from a new perspective.


None of this is new information. We all would love to have a guiding hand help us figure out this complex and stressful professional world. If you're looking for a mentor, these are the three most important things to keep in mind:


  • Define what you want out of your career and what you need to learn to get there.


  • Approach a mentor relationship as if it's a business friendship – be casual and friendly, and try not to ask weird questions like, "Will you be my mentor?"


  • Start with your own professional network. We often already have mentors who provide advice in various ways, and all it takes is a little effort from us to grow that connection into an ongoing relationship.


Vicki Salemi, a career expert for popular job search platform Monster, said it's important for a mentor and a mentee to realize that the connection doesn't always need to be an intense, formal thing. It's better to focus on maintaining the professional relationship and learning what you can.


"It doesn't have to be completely intensive, and that's what both the mentor and mentee should know – it's an ongoing dialogue conversation, and it's a relationship that's not going to completely overhaul your life," Salemi said.


Part of finding a mentor means learning how to appropriately follow up, add value to your mentor's life and career, and be proactive in your own career growth. These lessons can apply to any worker at any stage of their career. Especially for young workers who are just emerging in an industry or lack the experience needed to progress, you might feel self-conscious and wary of your endeavors. Sometimes, all you need in these moments is someone to look up to, someone who has been in your shoes but created their own path to success.


"The modern mentor can elevate both your mind and your career in a way that cannot be taught in school, a boardroom or on a business trip," said Demetri Argyropoulos, CEO of Avant Global. "For me, mentorship has been an invaluable part of my career growth."



The first step to find a mentor is defining what you want out of your career. This may not mean planning out your whole career – it's important to leave room to go where things take you – but defining what you want in the short term can give you a clear path forward. Consider your career path and narrow it down so you can determine who has your dream job and who you admire, said Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps.


"Successful mentoring relationships happen when the mentor and mentee are the right match," Driscoll said. "Reach out to someone you think you are comfortable with, who can be a neutral sounding board, and [who] will also provide great advice."


You can also look in your own professional circle. These individuals can be former bosses, former professors or teachers, co-workers in another department, or family friends. As you look, try to prioritize someone who can give you long-term advice about your industry and has a good idea of your own company and what it takes to advance within your role.


"I think it's probably best to have a combination of somebody who knows your internal organization well but not necessarily works there," Salemi said. "They can provide that insight with having a grander view of your career's growth."


Someone who has a general idea of your current role and industry will be able to give you advice on things like new projects to explore, certifications or training you need to get ahead, and how to manage office politics within your organization.


Once you're ready to reach out to someone, it's important to keep things casual. Salemi said your approach to a potential mentor should be the same as an approach to a potential friend – your relationship will develop over time. Don't force things; stay relaxed. Lessons and advice will come over time.


"It's not like you'll be at a conference and chat with someone sitting next to you and say, 'Oh, will you be my mentor?'" Salemi said. "It's a process. It's kind of like when you think about friends in your life, how you met them and how maybe over the period of a year or so you've gotten to become really good friends … in the beginning, you didn't say, 'Will you be my friend?' That would be completely awkward."


The difference between mentorships and friendships, however, is in how you follow up.



Once you've met with someone and had an initial conversation, if you think they can provide valuable advice to you as your career progresses, make sure you think critically about how and when to follow up. If they're open to continuing a dialogue, set calendar reminders on when to follow up. How often you speak with your mentor is up to you, but the goal is long-term, continued insight. That could mean hopping on the phone or meeting for coffee once a quarter, or even just twice a year.


"You definitely should make a note on your calendar, because we're so busy time can escape us," Salemi said. "Let's say you connect with your mentor by the end of [October] – make a note to check in with them over the holidays, and then maybe ask to get on their calendar literally for January."


While in-person meetings are important, social media offers mentees the opportunity to have regular, no-pressure interactions with mentors. Use Twitter and LinkedIn for light things – interesting articles, book recommendations, important industry news, etc.


Social media gives mentees the opportunity to nudge their mentors, reminding them not only that they exist outside of the semiannual dinner, but also that they value the relationship. Be sure not to nudge too frequently, though, or you'll come off as pushy. More importantly, don't discuss important career ideas over email or social media – save that for the in-person interactions.


"Make a point of trying to meet up with them," Salemi said. "If their calendar is packed, think outside the box in terms of 'OK, I'll meet you in your office' or 'Can we FaceTime?' just to get that interaction … you shouldn't [just] be sending emails."


One final, more meaningful way to connect with a mentor is regular mail. A thank-you note or holiday card can go a long way to show you value your mentor's advice and presence in your life.



Whether you're the founder of a brand-new startup or an entrepreneur with a bit of business experience under your belt, you can always benefit from a mentor.


"A mentor can serve as a sounding board at critical points throughout your career," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of staffing firm The Creative Group. "They can provide guidance on career management you may not be able to get from other sources and an insider's perspective on the business, as well as make introductions to key industry contacts."


Doña Storey, OPEN Mentorship Institute mentor and American Express OPENadvisor on procurement, noted that mentors can help their mentees identify and avoid business pitfalls, and work through the challenges ahead of them.


Another important aspect Salemi pointed out is that, when we're immersed in our own careers, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. It's important to have advocates for you – especially early in your career. These should be people other than your boss, and they should provide insight on getting ahead as well as supporting your overall goals.



At the most basic level, your mentor should have more experience than you and a track record of success.


"A great mentor is someone whose qualities make up a much better version of who you envision yourself to become," said Argyropoulos. "On the other hand, some great mentors may help you to learn who not to be like – for example, a very successful businessman who is struggling in his personal life. Great mentors have a complementary skill set and bring different qualities to the table. Different perspectives are valuable in the mentor-mentee relationship."


Doug White, career expert and editor of career and management insights website TCG Blog, recommended seeking a mentor who has a strong character and traits worth emulating.


"Look for mentors who are authentic, empathetic, creative and honest," said White. "You need someone who's caring and invested in your professional growth, but also someone who will speak truth to you. Sometimes you need some constructive criticism or a reality check, while other times you need a high five or pat on the back. A well-chosen mentor can provide all of those things."


A mentor in the same business area as you may better understand your business's challenges and concerns, but Storey said that fruitful mentoring relationships don't necessarily have to happen within the same industry. Leadership philosophy may be more important.


"Make sure that the mentor shares a similar value system in leadership and management," Storey said. "Knowing who you are as a leader is critical before entering into a mentoring relationship. Only then can you align yourself with the right guide."



As a mentee, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of asking a lot of your mentor without giving anything in return. While your mentor might be happy to provide you with advice regardless, it's still important to think of some ways to show your appreciation and make yourself available for your mentor.


Salemi said, at the very least, it's important to prove you appreciate the relationship by valuing your mentor's advice and time – if only by arriving at meetings early or adjusting your own schedule to make a meeting more convenient for your mentor. Young professionals may not have a lot to offer their mentors, but they can offer them respect and appreciation.


"You can be a great mentee to your mentor by following up when you say you're going to – staying on their radar – because chances are, if they're the right fit for you, they'll appreciate providing information," Salemi said. "Thank them, acknowledge them, don't squander their time."



The whole point of seeking out a mentor is to get important insight and advance your career. The only way that's possible is if you're proactive about your own situation.


"We need to be proactive – what it comes down to is everyone needs to be proactive in their own career advancement and growth," Salemi said. "Let's say you like your job and you think, 'Oh, things are going well' – you still need a mentor because, at some point, you may hit a plateau."


With a mentor, keep it simple and stay relaxed about the relationship. There's often a lesson to be learned from someone who's further along in their career. The key is being open to whatever lesson or message that is.


"Seek out someone who you want to emulate, who can help you in areas where you're deficient in knowledge and skills," Argyropoulos added. "My most impactful mentor experiences evolved through sharing experiences and stories, and at some point, the mentee can also teach the mentor. You want to create an environment where you're paying that knowledge forward to others."







According to new data from Glassdoor, diversity and inclusion remains very much top of mind as companies plan their talent strategies for next year. The business case the data show is an interesting one: Qualified candidates are increasingly asking that companies show their inclusion receipts before they agree to be hired on.


“Job seekers want insights into what businesses are doing to build a workforce that is diverse in all aspects of the word be it age, gender, ethnicity or thought,” said Carmel Galvin, chief human resources officer of Glassdoor.


The report, which surveyed 750 talent managers in the U.S. and U.K., finds that 59% of hiring leaders say their current diversity shortcomings present a “significant” challenge to their recruiting efforts. As a result, 35% of hiring managers are planning to increase their investment in their diversity and inclusion efforts, with only 3% expecting to invest less.


Criticism about a lack of diversity in the workplace, particularly in tech, continues to be a motivating element, but getting quality candidates in the door takes a very specific form of work. (Here’s a great checklist from HR Dive for hiring managers to think about as they stare blankly at their goals for 2018.)


One area that’s ripe for improvement (and that’s easily overlooked) is finding out how promising candidates get lost before they even get a chance to sit for an interview or test.


Sometimes a simple intervention is all it takes. One mid-level executive at a Fortune 100 financial firm got sick of getting called out for a lack of diversity on her team. “I did what I never do,” she told raceAhead on background. “I called our recruiters and asked them to show me everyone who applied. Every name.” She retrieved some 20% of the screened-out candidates for interviews, some of whom had blue-chip achievements on their resumes, some of whom were intriguing for other reasons. “We’ve got to get better about letting people in the door who don’t always present like a “typical” rock-star candidate,” she said.


And at some point, every person who encounters a potential candidate needs to be encouraged and prepared to answer any questions about diversity and inclusion — specific programs, numbers, or simply demonstrate their company’s authentic commitment to the issue. “I learned something from every one of those interviews,” said the newly woke mid-level executive. “For one, I learned that the pipeline problem was mostly us, not them,” she said. But most of all, “I learned how to better talk about what we believed about diversity. Because we really do believe in it.”


African Americans in the U.S. Making Less Than They Did in 2000

African Americans are the only racial group in U.S. still making less than they did in 2000

By Heather Long


African Americans were worse off financially in 2016 than they were in 2000.


The median income for an African American household was $39,490 last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week. It was $41,363 in 2000. (Both figures are in 2016 dollars, so they have been adjusted for inflation).


African Americans are the only racial group the Census Bureau identifies that has been left behind. White, Asian and Hispanic households have all seen at least modest income gains since 2000.


The uptick in incomes for so many Americans helped lift the overall median U.S. household income to $59,039 last year, the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau. That figure surpassed the previous record set in 1999, during the last period of strong economic growth. Median household income means half of U.S. households earn more and half earn less. It’s an important indicator of the health of the middle class.


But the overall trend masks the fact that African Americans, as a group, have not recovered.





Black Americans have struggled for years to move up the economic ladder. They have a harder time finding jobs. Merely having an “African American sounding name” makes an employer less likely to hire someone, a National Bureau of Economic Research study found.



The black unemployment rate is nearly double the white unemployment rate. It’s been that way since the Labor Department began keeping track of unemployment by race in the early 1970s. Black Americans also receive substantially lower wages than whites and Asians.


“Character, talent and insight are evident in individuals from all income classes. But not all individuals get an equal chance to prove their mettle,” said Mary Coleman, senior vice president of Economic Mobility Pathways, a Boston-based nonprofit group.


The Census data also showed that almost 1 in 4 black households lives in poverty. The poverty rate among African Americans (22 percent) is more than double the poverty rate among whites (9 percent).


African Americans have the lowest earnings of any racial group by far. While median household income for African Americans was just over $39,000 last year, it was over $47,000 for Hispanics, over $65,000 for whites and over $81,000 for Asian American households.


Lower incomes make it harder to get by, let alone get ahead. African Americans are much less likely than whites to own homes or invest in the stock market, in part because low wages leave them with limited extra income to save up for a down payment.


African Americans also are more likely to lack health insurance. The Census released data this week showing that the uninsured rate for the nation overall was 8.8 percent, an all-time low. But it was 10.5 percent for African Americans.


Many books and research papers have delved into why African Americans continue to struggle financially. Williams Rodgers, chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, is one of the scholars who has studied the issue extensively. He co-authored a report last year for the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute that found that black-white wage gaps are larger today than they were in 1979.


The study noted that even when African Americans attend college and actively work to expand their skills and networks, they still earn far less than whites with similar educational background. In fact, the wage gap has expanded the most between college educated blacks and whites.


His conclusion after years of looking at the data and trends? “Wage gaps are growing primarily because of discrimination,” said Rodgers.


The small silver lining in the latest census data is that African American incomes grew nearly 6 percent last year, the most of any racial group, but it’s not moving quickly enough to do much to close the vast income gap between African Americans and other groups.








Manufacturing Companies in the U.S. Can Do Better

Manufacturing Companies in the U.S. Can Do Better



Manufacturing companies in the United States have focused on recruiting and retaining women and/or minorities for a number of years, yet, these strategies have NOT improved diversity in the sector.


The manufacturing sector employs fewer women than it did 20 years ago, and the number of black workers also shrank slightly during the same period. Men make up 71% of the manufacturing workforce, while their labor force participation rate is only 53% (MAPI, 2016).


Shifts in the U.S. labor force in the next 10 years will not be insignificant and more U.S. workers will identify as a minority. At the same time, the widening manufacturing skills gap will make it increasingly difficult to find skilled workers. These forces could have a catastrophic impact on manufacturers’ ability to hire and retain top talent.


Unfortunately, few businesses have embedded their diversity and inclusion strategies and tactics within their workflow; more than 80% approach improvements and programs in an ad hoc manner. The few that have embedded diversity and inclusion into their culture ensure that senior leaders and employees understand that it is a crucial business driver.




MAPI research and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:





Inclusion, Interrupted? Progress and Pitfalls in Tackling Tech Bias

Inclusion, interrupted? Progress and pitfalls in tackling tech bias

By : The Drum


The scene has played itself out often. As has the heartbreak. The moment that a job candidate hears “we’ll be in touch” and realizes that they are not getting the job they truly want. It happens to many but is especially acute in the minority community, and an issue that HP wanted to put in full relief.


A powerful video, created by agency Fred & Farid, illustrated the unconscious bias African-American job candidates endure. Seeing deflated spirits and dejection is hard to watch — and though it is, in effect, advertising, the message hit home authentically, according to Lesley Slaton Brown, chief diversity officer at HP.


“When we tested with focus groups, feedback we received included: ‘Oh my God. This happened to me right before I got to HP’ and ‘I had to experience that, but yet I know that I met the requirements to do the work. In fact, I went against one of my friends for a particular job. I had better grades, experiences and internships, and yet, they made it to the final round and I didn’t.’”


The video is part of a wider campaign called Reinvent Mindsets which addresses not just race, but gender and LGBT bias — and part of a much more aggressive push by HP, considered one of the standard bearers of improving diversity, equality and inclusion in Silicon Valley. Since the launch of the first video, others have been released, painting a compelling narrative that addresses serious issues of bias, including the well-received “Dads and Daughters,” which illustrates sexism in the interview process.


Internally, the company continues to strategically develop its training programs around unconscious bias and looks at it like most who are waking up to the benefits of a diverse workforce: a very good business decision.

“We really wanted to raise awareness of the ingrained biases that exist in the hiring process within the industry. In particular, in the tech industry,” said Slaton Brown. “We felt like it was time for us to really go beyond just talking about it and put action to words.”


A problem in the pipeline?


Action is a key component. Progress is another. It’s clear that the tech industry’s diversity issues won’t improve overnight, but the excuse that it’s a pipeline issue, that there aren’t enough candidates of color that meet the requirements is, by and large, not exactly true, said Dr. Maya Beasley, co-founder and principal at Washington DC-based T10 Group, a diversity consultancy.


Speaking on Diversity in Tech: Readiness to Recruitment at SXSW, she noted that there are approximately 265,000 Americans of color, 45 or younger with bachelors or advanced degrees in computer science, math and electrical engineering as of 2013.


Of those people, 7% of men and 12% of women were unemployed compared to 2% of white men. Additionally, 13% of men and 16% of women of color worked in jobs unrelated to their tech degrees.


In Silicon Valley, according to Beasley, the tech workforce is 2.2% African-American and 4.7% Hispanic. Comparatively, 17% of the tech talent in Washington DC is African-American. Miami’s tech community is made up of 29.9% Hispanic Americans.


“There are areas that actually have diversity in their tech workforces,” noted Beasley. “DC, for example, is actually a larger tech workforce than Silicon Valley, so it’s not just because there’s a smaller number of people that they were able to find more people of color. These are really large tech areas. I don’t want to say that there’s no pipeline issues where we want to be, but the pipeline isn’t the explanation for where we are right now.”


In general, companies are not great about reporting diversity data. According to Fortune magazine, only 3.2% of companies on the Fortune 500 list gave complete data. Though the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple release demographic data, it’s clear that there is work to be done, with the demographic breakdown still tilting to a majority white workforce.


“They think the fact that they actually report their numbers means, ‘See? We’re trying.’ They think it makes them look better,” said Julius Pryor III, a consultant who has held high-level diversity roles at Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Abbott Labs and Genentech.


“There are plenty of jobs in those companies that don’t rely on having abilities to code. There are plenty of jobs in those companies that don’t rely on complex engineering skills, so what about those jobs in addition to the tech jobs?” he added, also noting that the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, is an industrial engineer who graduated from Auburn University in Alabama and got an MBA at Duke. He spent most of his career in operations and sales, not writing code.


Looking outward and from the top


To Beasley, if an organization truly wants to tackle diversity, they should be looking outside their own walls, to people who can actually impact change, with one caveat.


“The diversity industry is worth about 200 billion dollars,” she said. “You’re not looking for just anyone. If you actually want to enact change, figure out who to go to, who you can talk to, who are genuinely experts, and not just self-proclaimed experts in the field of diversity because there’s such a huge variation in what you’ll get.”


Finding the right people outside of organizations, to shepherd the appropriate direction, is one thing, but looking inward can be just as worthwhile. According to Pryor, it all starts with leadership.


“The first thing that’s critically important is that you really need buy-in from the top. Organizations need to be serious about this,” said Pryor at SXSW.


Pryor also noted that less than 25% of Fortune 500 companies have a chief diversity officer and that, “those numbers are even smaller when you think about the tech space, especially in Northern California, Silicon Valley — and less than 6% of those people are actually reporting in to the CEO or someone really senior or in a business unit in the organization, so the perception of where this job reports to really matters.”


Where progress can get bogged down is in it becoming a function on HR when, in fact, diversity should influenced in the corner office.


“It’s not inherently disadvantageous if [the function] reports to the HR department, but the other key is to be sure that that person has respect and is able to actually influence the key leaders and the other key influencers in the organization,” Pryor said. “Oftentimes, I don’t see this happening in the way that it should.”


For its part, HP has strong buy-in from the top with CMO Antonio Lucio taking an aggressive and public stance on diversity and inclusion with the right support.


“Our corporation has the most diverse board in America,” he noted. “And diversity has been one of our key drivers in improving our overall business. Businesses, not just our own, need to address diversity as a business priority.”


Numbers, and accountability, matter.


Diverse workforces are clearly major contributors to the bottom line. For his part, Pryor has had a front row seat to tremendous success and feels that the business conversation is the right one to have beyond workforce representation, pluralism, succession plans — the tactical hallmarks of addressing diversity.


“If you were doing a call with analysts at an organization, you would be talking to them about earnings per share, revenue, cycle times, inventory returns, how are you connected to the market place,” noted Pryor. “That’s really what I focused on, in terms of how you drive these things forward.”


Indeed, Pryor pointed to a case where, during his time at a pharmaceutical company, he was able to engage African-American doctors and patients (an often ignored population) for a prostate cancer treatment that ended up with 100% market penetration within the community — even after what he called “surprising pushback” from other managers that tossed out stereotype after stereotype about the demographic.


“There are cases like that in every company where you have someone who is a minority — African-American, women — who have a perspective that can actually help the company drive revenue, drive market share and they’re being ignored, for the most part,” said Pryor. “People who run companies may not have that perspective and don’t see that as important. That was a specific example of how you can leverage diversity and inclusion to drive an outcome that delivers results.”


Intention, as it relates to hiring people of color in general, and specifically in tech, is one thing, but without accountability, the efforts can fall flat.


“We have a comprehensive plan,” said Lucio. “But it’s important to follow through with actions and measurement.”


Beasley noted that, “[It’s important to] make sure that organizations are using metrics and measuring so that they can see the change, even the small, incremental changes over time. You see the tech giants putting out diversity reports for the sake of transparency and they’re not seeing any real change. We want to see a bunch of organizations putting out the same data so we can see who is changing.”


Outreach and hyper-collaboration


One of the more troubling chestnuts in recruiting is simply around outreach. By and large, companies aren’t necessarily making the efforts to go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to find talent, for example.


“When you get people there, they see so many capable students,” said Pryor. “They say ‘why didn’t I know about these places?’ Well, they haven’t been there before.”


Networks matter greatly as well. In Silicon Valley, and tech in general, the “bro” culture of white men creates closed off networks and, by extension, opportunities. Interestingly, cohorts of color may not necessarily be a good thing either.


Robert Murray, an Austin-based developer with deep experience in building applications for music, hospitality, fashion, finance and more, advocates for pushing the boundaries to help accelerate opportunity.


“It’s proven that having a more diverse team is going to build better products,” he said at SXSW. “You should be pushing through to build out your network. Create, expand and invite other people in your network.”


Comfort, or lack thereof, is a key consideration as well.


“If you have an insular network that’s primarily other people of color, unfortunately, it means you’ve got the wrong network for those jobs,” said Beasley. “In some ways, it can be helpful but you want to make sure that if, for example [as Murray noted earlier in the talk], the white boys are the ones that are tied to VCs and they’re going into meetings and coming out with a whole lot of money really quickly. You don’t want to exclude yourself from those same networks because you think that they are unwelcoming. Do what makes you uncomfortable because eventually it will pay off.”


Once the networks continue to grow, Pryor strongly advocates for what he calls hyper-collaboration, laid out in his book, Thriving in a Disruptive World. At its most basic level, he shows that highly collaborative teams function well together, understanding that they are on a mission, focused on goals and objectives and it’s up to each member of the team to do the best they can within the context of a culture to succeed. He noted the New England Patriots as an organization with a strong culture, where everyone understands their job and is prepared to simply do it when called upon.


Pryor sees that practice as useful outside in networks — and put in the work to engage the academic and corporate communities during his time at Genentech, helping to lead a consortium of companies that identified and recruited high-performing students from HBCUs such as Morehouse, Spelman, Hampton, Howard and Tuskegee. Tech companies like Cisco, HP, IBM and others pooled resources to bring students in as summer interns, providing a new lens into what is possible for the students and the companies as well.


“They’re going to remember the organization that supported them,” said Pryor. “If we have the right culture, they’re going to want to come to work for us.”


To that point, HP continues to engage the HBCU community through its HP HBCU Business Challenge, where students work to solve real-world business cases that offer prizes but, more importantly, career-building opportunities.


“It’s just great for us, great for them — great for the HBCUs to get their brand exposure and really showcase their students, so we’re very excited about that,” said Slaton Brown.


Previous pilots of the program, according to Slaton Brown, were very successful and brought a winning team of four to HP’s Palo Alto HQ, with two securing internships with the company.


“That’s what we want to see. It will help build our pipeline,” noted Slaton Brown. “In addition to that, we’re building relationships with the deans, with business schools, and with schools of engineering. This is not a drop in the bucket. This is a long-term relationship and partnership that we’re building.”


Though, to Pryor, it is still a Sisyphean task, and there is a very long way to go, the end result is obvious, especially with his experience and understanding that making a serious, measurable commitment matters.


“It’s not that black people are going to win and white people are going to lose — the rising tide will lift all boats. This is going to be beneficial for everybody.”




Starbucks Just Named Alpha Kappa Alpha Soror Rosalind Brewer as Its New Chief Operating Officer


Starbucks Just Named Alpha Kappa Alpha Soror Rosalind Brewer as Its New Chief Operating Officer






Starbucks just named Alpha Kappa Alpha soror Rosalind Brewer, the former president and CEO of  Sam’s Club and one of the most prominent Black women business leaders in America, its new chief operating officer and group president, giving her the second highest position at the company.



She is the first woman, and first African American, to hold such a post at Starbucks.



Brewer is a proud graduate of Spelman College and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., who has been listed as the 64th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and one of the 50 most Powerful Women by Fortune.








Is There a Downside to Inclusion?

Is There a Downside to Inclusion?


By Vanessa J. Weaver





The unpredictable and sometimes outrageous United States presidential race has placed the power of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) front and center in the American consciousness. Democratic and Republican candidates alike have bragged about their ability to attract millions of new constituents by casting their diversity nets wider, capturing previously disaffected and tuned-out voters. As a result, this renewed and energized voice for new members and party loyalists has the political parties reaping the benefits of Inclusion.



What’s most striking is that this renewed D&I political vigor, no matter the party affiliation, has a MAJOR downside wrought with misunderstandings, confusion, insult and controversy, leaving many of us struggling to determine the “new rules” for political correctness and wondering…is there a limit to Inclusion?



Further, this same downside is bleeding into the workplace and challenging a powerful unspoken and widely practiced rule. The rule, “keep politics and religion outside the workplace,” was intended to insure an inclusive work environment by excluding potentially contentious issues from the job. But today, instead of trying to keep the “outside out,” many are bringing their “outside in.” Employees want to talk about the current political dynamic and some candidate’s seemingly radicalized religious beliefs (both Christian and Islam) with the people with whom they spend 8-12 hours a day. After all, isn’t that what we’re encouraging people to do? Bring their “authentic selves” to the work environment?



This scenario presents an interesting dynamic for Diversity Practitioners and Human Capital leaders. The willingness to engage in these sensitive topics is evidence that Inclusion is working. Yet, the fear of these conversations potentially getting out of control, impeding team and workplace relationships is real. I was confronted with this very situation after a recent client engagement in New York City.



After a long and successful first day with a new client, I was having dinner with my diverse Alignment Strategies’ team of seven. In fact, we were enjoying our meal at a barbeque restaurant in Manhattan selected by our white and Jamaican male colleagues. Truthfully, I was suspect. I couldn’t imagine a “real BBQ” place in Mid-town’s tawny theater district. Further, I questioned whether these two culturally different men would know and agree on real BBQ.



But, as the leader, I felt it was important to support empowered decision-making, so I went along, anticipating a marginal BBQ experience at the very least. But to my surprise, it was awesome!!! And served as a good reminder of my own unconscious biases. What a wonderful meal I would have missed had I acted on what I assumed to be true. Thinking back, I am unnerved when I consider the message I would have sent, had I not supported the men’s recommendation.



An ever bigger insight and gift appeared during the actual meal. As we shared about our days experiences, the conversation shifted to the dynamics of the primaries. I immediately began to feel tense. Owning my nervousness, I consciously chose not to attempt to subtly shift the conversation to a “safer” topic. And by letting the conversation happen, I was surprised by what I learned about my own team. First, I learned that one of my team members, whom I assumed shared my same political, Democratic affiliation, was a Republican. I also assumed that my Republican female colleague, whom I have known for years, would support the first woman Presidential candidate. Again, I was wrong.



I learned so much from listening to these two people whom I professionally respect and personally care for. Their differing views were extremely insightful and revealing. It was an opportunity for me to hear and experience the political world through their lens. More importantly, it forced me to practice what I preach about D&I, and the truth is, it wasn’t easy. I had to put “listen, listen, listen and hear” into practice.



The evening offered three additional gifts as well. First, I watched our team demonstrating our diversity and the strength of Inclusion. They were listening to each other and exchanging points-of-view and asking the kinds of questions typically not asked in mixed company. It was so gratifying to watch my team gelling at a deeper level. The second gift was seeing the power of this diverse team connecting with our client, many of whom shared our various political points-of-view. Third, I got affirmation as the team leader, that I had done the right thing by supporting this conversation. My team members were being their authentic selves and felt like they were in a safe space to do so.



Throughout the evening, I repeatedly found that I had made incorrect assumptions about people’s views and affiliations. With my new knowledge, I left with a deeper understanding of each person and consequently, felt more connected and trusting of them
As Diversity Practitioners and Human Capital managers we have so much invested in advancing Inclusion in our workplaces. We know Inclusion is critical to success. Research consistently confirms that Inclusion drives better business performance, achievement of organizational mission and employee engagement. This current intersection of political and religious debate offers us a unique opportunity to deepen the level of Inclusion in the workplaces we support.


Here are some suggestions to put some structure around leveraging the political and religious activism and discussion:



Be Bold: Organize Inclusion Discussion Circles where workplace colleagues, with different political perspectives, can come together to discuss their points-of-view and discover how these can be leveraged to improve employee engagement.
Deal with the Elephant in the Room. In team meetings, raise recent news events that could potentially impact workplace relationships. Think about how news could be impacting team members. Consider if there are things team members can do to mitigate an issue or make someone with a diverse characteristic (gender identity, race, religion, country of origin) feel more included.



Seek Truth. Use informal and formal feedback techniques to encourage a more inclusive work environment. Select a uniform list of inclusive habits that provide a common framework and dimensions that everyone can apply. I have found the US Federal Government’s “5-Inclusive Habits”, to be extremely effective in assessing if workplaces, teams and leaders are practicing inclusive habits to enhance engagement. These “5-Inclusive Habits are: 1) Fairness 2) Openness 3) Cooperative 4) Supportive and 5) Empowerment. Currently, the US Federal Government has adopted these “5-Inclusive Habits” to train and evaluate their 2.5 million employees, supervisors and leadership on Inclusion.



Do Something: Once you have identified the inclusive dimensions that work for your organization, put them to action. Identify 1-3 inclusive behaviors you and your team could practice over the next 6 months. Seek ongoing input and alignment, then make adjustments to stay on track.
Focus on ROBUST Relationships. As a supervisor, invest 1:1 time to get to know your people beyond the transactional nature of projects and daily work. Seek to learn if they feel included or if they have concerns and be sure to share yours with them.



If our political season has revealed one thing, it’s that there’s no turning back on Diversity and Inclusion – it’s front and center where it belongs. Today’s global demographic and cultural realities are shaping the workplace for future decades. After this latest US election season comes to end, the majority of us will still be working together. The workplace plays a unique role in negating the downsides of Diversity and inclusion, but more importantly, demonstrating its tremendous upsides.



(1. Bruce Stewart, “The New IQ: A New Kind of Intelligence for a New Kind of World,” The Federal Manager, Fall 2014, 3.)


Dr. Vanessa Weaver is CEO of Alignment Strategies, LLC, a 28+ year management consulting firm, and a DBP SOlutions@ partner with a focus on all facets of diversity management. Go to to connect with Dr. Weaver.



BP Appoints First Black Female CEO





JOHANNESBURG – BP Southern Africa (BPSA) on Monday appointed chartered accountant Priscillah Mabelane as its new chief executive.


Mabelane is the first woman in the history of the country’s oil industry to head a multi-national company, marking a significant milestone in the organisation and industry’s transformation journey.


She will take the helm on 1 September, exactly six years after joining the organisation in 2011 as chief financial officer (CFO).

BPSA said Mabelane has more than 20 years of service in a number of key leadership positions and she brings a “wealth of world-class experience and expertise” to her new role as chief executive.


Prior to joining BP, Mabelane held various executive roles in a number of large South African companies.


She worked at Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) as CFO, Ernst & Young where she was a tax director, and at Eskom where she held various roles in finance, tax and general management.


BPSA chairperson, Thandi Orleyn, thanked outgoing chief executive, Daniel Odogwu, who was at the helm for three and a half years and welcomed Mabelane.


“Given her proven track record in her previous executive roles, we are confident that Priscillah will be a strong leader for our business, especially as we continue to explore new areas of growth and development,” Orleyn said.


“Priscillah’s appointment reinforces BPSA’s pioneering role and strength of commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce that will breed creativity and ensure we meet, even exceed customer expectations.”


Mabelane’s appointment follows closely on the heels of two recent female senior executive appointments to the BPSA leadership team: Kelebogile Tseladimitlwa as human resources director Southern Africa, and Prinisha Khoosal as commercial integration manager, Southern Africa during the latter part of 2016.






2017 Diversity Holidays (Sept – Dec)





From September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day,which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.

September 1-2 (Evening): Eid Al-Adha, Eid al-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event.
September 4: Labor Day in the United States. Labor Day honors the contribution that laborers have made to the country and is observed on the first Monday of September.
September 5: Buddhist Ghost Festival aka Hungry Ghost Festival, Ancestral worship by those practicing Taoism, where street, market, and temple ceremonies take place.
September 12: The Ethiopian New Year. Rastafarians celebrate the New Year on this date and believe that Ethiopia is their spiritual home.
September 15 – October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day,which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.
September 20-22 (Evening): Rosh-Hashanah is the Jewish New Year celebration, marking the creation of the world.
September 28: Teacher’s Day. Taiwan uses this day to honor teachers’ contributions to their students and to society in general. People often express their gratitude to their teachers by paying them a visit or sending them a card. This date was chosen to commemorate the birth of Confucius, the model master educator in ancient China.
September 29 – September 30: Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and is a day of atonement marked by fasting and ceremonial repentance.




October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This observance was launched in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1998, the week was extended to a month and renamed. The annual event draws attention to employment barriers that still need to be addressed.

October is also LGBT History Month, a U.S. observance started in 1994 to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history and the history of the gay rights movement.
October 1: Ashura, An Islamic holiday commemorating the day Noah left the ark and the day Allah saved Moses from the Egyptians.
October 4 – 11 (Evening): Jewish Holiday of Sukkot is a seven day festival giving thanks for the fall harvest.
October 9: Canadian Thanksgiving. It is a chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year.
October 9: National Indigenous People’s Day is an alternative celebration to Columbus Day, promoting political correctness in giving recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization.
October 11 – 12 (Evening): Shemini Atzeret is the day after the Sukkot festival where gratitude for the fall harvest is deeply internalized.
October 11: National Coming Out Day. For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, this day celebrates coming out and the recognition of the 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian equality.
October 12-13 (Evening): Simchat Torah marks the end of the weekly readings of the Torah. The holy book is read from chapter one of Genesis, to Deuteronomy 34, then back to chapter one again, in acknowledgement of the words of the Torah being a circle; a never ending cycle.
October 19: The Diwali, Hindu, Jain and Sikh five-day festival of lights celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil, lightness over darkness.
October 20: The day Sikhs celebrate Sri Guru Granth Sahib who is their spiritual guide.
October 20: The Birth of the Bab, a holiday celebrated by the Baha’i recognizing the birth of the founder of the Baha’i faith. This celebration starts on October 19 and ends October 20.
October 22 marks the beginning of Dussehra (Dasera), a ten-day festival celebrated by Hindus to recognize Rama’s victory over evil.
October 23: Ashura, a holiday recognized by Muslims to mark the martyrdom of Hussain. It also commemorates the day Noah left the ark and Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God.
October 24: Shemini Atzeret, “The Eighth (Day) of Assembly”, which is the observed on the day following Sukkot.




November is National Native American Heritage Month, which celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans.

November 1: All Saints Day, which commemorates all known and unknown Christian saints. (In Eastern Christianity, the day is observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost.)
November 2: All Souls Day, which commemorates all faithful Christians who are now dead. In the Mexican tradition, the holiday is celebrated as Dia de los Muertos (October 31 and November 2), which is a time of remembrance for dead ancestors and a celebration of the continuity of life.
November 11: Veterans Day, an annual U.S. federal holiday honoring military veterans. The date is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world and commemorates the ending of the first World War in 1918.
November 12: The Birth of Baha’u’llah, a day on which members of the Baha’i faith celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Baha’i religion.
November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance, established in 1998 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, and to raise awareness of the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
November 26: Feast of Christ of King, Praisal to God for the gift of time. Many party and feast to give thanks.
November 29 – 30: Eid Milad Un Nabi is the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Parades, communal feasts in mosques, night-long prayers, and many other celebrations take place and is mainly celebrated by Muslims in India




December 1: World AIDS Day, which was created to commemorate those who have died of AIDS, and to acknowledge the need for a continued commitment to all those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
December 3: International Day of Disabled Persons, which is designed to raise awareness in regards to persons with disabilities in order to improve their lives and provide them with equal opportunity.
December 3 – 24: Advent, Joyous preparation for the annual festive remembrance of the incarnation of Christ’s birth. Wreaths and Advent calendars are hung, Jesse trees are pitched, and it is a time of prayer.
December 8: Bodhi Day, a holiday observed by Buddhists to commemorate Gautama’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, India.
December 10: International Human Rights Day, established by the United Nations in 1948 to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
December 12: Feast Day at Our Lady of Guadalupe. This day commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.
December 12: Eid Milad Un Nabi, an Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad. During this celebration, homes and mosques are decorated, large parades take place, and those observing the holiday participate in charity events.
December 12-20: Hanukkah is celebrated around the world for eight days and nights. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees or Israelites over the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus about 2200 years ago. A Menorah is a special nine-branched candelabrum.
December 13: St. Lucia’s Day. In Sweden, St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304 AD. She secretly brought food to persecuted Christians in Rome. She wore candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. These stories were told by the Monks who brought Christmas to Sweden.
December 16-24: Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration in Mexico commemorating the trials Mary and Joseph endured during their journey to Bethlehem.
December 21: The Winter Solstice/ Yule. For Pagans and Wiccans, the shortest day of the year represents a celebration focusing on rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings as the sun makes way back to the earth. A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky.
December 25: Christmas, the day that Christians associate with Jesus’s birth.
December 26 – January 1: Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.