Meet Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first African American woman to run a $1-billion business

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CEO of Act 1 Group

Janice Bryant Howroyd, 65, is founder and chief executive of Act 1 Group, an employment agency that also provides consulting and business services, including background checks and screening. She’s the first African American woman to operate a company that generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, according to Black Enterprise Magazine. Act 1, which includes other brands such as Agile 1, A-Check Global and AppleOne, has contracts with 17,000 clients in 19 countries.

“If you visit any of our offices,” Howroyd said, “you’ll see that we live by the mantra that ‘the applicant is the center of our universe.’ It’s always been our belief that if you get that applicant in the right job, then they will be the best representation of who we are as a company.”

Early lessons

Growing up in Tarboro, N.C., as one of 11 children, Howroyd had early lessons in team building. Each sibling was assigned an older one to act as a mentor.

“My sister Sandy was my appointed guardian angel,” Howroyd said, “so it was up to her to see that I’d gotten my homework done, my hair was done, and my thoughts and process were in line with what the family wanted. We were very organized.”

Big move

After studying humanities and English at North Carolina A&T, Howroyd faced culture shock when she moved to Los Angeles in 1976 with just $900. Her older sister again provided welcome advice to “settle myself into knowing who I was, learning the power of that and understanding it.”

Brother-in-law Tom provided a temporary job at Billboard and saw entrepreneurial talents in the way Howroyd interacted with clients. Even when she was ill at ease, “I would revert to what I do well, which is strategize. I love to look at a problem, break it apart, find the better potential, knowing when to eliminate what doesn’t need to be there.”

Word of mouth

Howroyd, who didn’t even own a fax machine, opened Act 1 in a small office in Beverly Hills in 1978. She started out by making full-time job placements for companies needing workers, then shifting to temporary placements. Pleased clients were her best advertisements.

“It still matters in business more what someone else says about you than what you say about yourself,” Howroyd said. “You can have the best advertising, but unless someone else certifies what they are saying, you won’t last long. Word of mouth has always been my best referral system.”

Standing out

Early on, Howroyd employed a strategy that allowed her to compete against bigger companies, preparing her prospective hires by training them in what their employers were looking for in new workers.

“It always works best when you can tailor a hire to fit into a company’s philosophy,” Howroyd said. “They walk in better prepared and it’s more likely to be a very good fit for your client.”

Standing up

Whether it was dealing with racist students and teachers in her youth or businesspeople who uttered the most stunningly insensitive remarks, Howroyd said there were times when she was forced to bite her tongue and muddle through and other times when it was clear a stand had to be made, as frightening as that might clearly be.

“In order to be outstanding, sometimes, you’re just going to have to stand out” and not hide, Howroyd said. “My personal business protocol, my life mantra: Never compromise who you are personally to become what you wish to be professionally.”

Continue onto the LA Times to read the complete article.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting,  ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

Meet The Millennial Women Bringing Black Girl Magic To Advertising

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The ladies of 19th and Park, a creative marketing company are currently shaking up the male-dominated advertising industry, through their fresh take on video, social and experimental content. Meet Whitney Headen, Tahira White, and Nicole Januarie, affectionately coined as the trifecta of #blackgirlmagic.

These three millennial women are passionate about helping companies cut through the noise of the media industry to create lasting and compelling content targeted to their key consumers. 19th & Park is committed to consistently integrating new technologies, influencers, micro-influencers, celebrities, and creative strategy to reach the population at mass to not only sell products but sell the lifestyle that comes with it.

Headen, White, and Januarie, started 19th &Park with the intention of creating a more diverse representation on the creative and innovation side for brands and agencies, given that there is a lack of inclusion within the advertising, social media and communications industries for African-American women.

Not only does the agency offer a full-service production and execution team ran and operated by women but they also provide an extended team of experts that lend out creative consultation, brand development, budget management and project for all creative products. The trifecta adds diversity and efficiency to rooms where those positions have never really existed while reinventing the traditional contractor role by presenting a full agency as an in-house creative team.

Since 2017, 19th & Park has worked on creative campaigns with Issa Rae, Nike, Prudential, Smirnoff, Coca-Cola, and Intel, to name a few. I spoke with the ladies of 19th and Park to learn about how they provide a 360-degree multimedia branding experience, what sparks their creativity and advice for the millennial determined to make it in the marketing and advertising industries.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journeys. From working in marketing and production at Essence Magazine to freelancing for companies like Nike and Samsung, what led you all to collectively establish 19th &Park?

19th &Park: Whitney Headen: I grew up in a small town in Virginia and graduated college at the height of the recession. I chose to move to New York City to pursue opportunities in media that I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at getting in Virginia. For an entire year, I worked odd jobs in retail and volunteered with no luck at landing any opportunities in my field. Right when I was ready to leave and head back to Virginia, I received an email that I got an internship at MTV about a year and a half after graduation. Although you had to be a student to be an intern, I knew this was my one shot to get into my field so I told them I was still in school and started interning. After working on set for about a year, I realized that that wasn’t my passion or the journey I wanted to take so at a networking event I met the head of digital at BET and was offered a job as his assistant immediately. This job introduced to the world of integrated marketing basically where you used production and marketing strategies to seamlessly integrate brands into digestible content.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

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robert f smith

It’s a Saturday afternoon, at the height of vacation season, in one of South Beach’s hottest hotels, and Robert Smith, the founder of Vista Equity Partners, is dressed like exactly no one within a 100-mile radius of Miami: in a three-piece suit. His signature outfit–today, it’s gray plaid, accented by an indigo tie and a pink paisley pocket square–apparently doesn’t take a day off, and Smith isn’t taking one now either. He’s gathered dozens of CEOs from his portfolio companies, software firms all, for a semiannual weekend off-site to drill them in the ways he expects his companies to operate.

It’s not just the suit that’s unusual. Private equity firms almost never treat their portfolio companies, transactional chits by design, like an organic cohort. And until recently, PE, a field built on borrowing against cash-generating assets, wouldn’t touch software firms, which offer little that’s tangible to collateralize. Yet Smith has invested only in software over Vista’s 18-year history, as evidenced by the CEOs, like Andre Durand of the security-software maker Ping Identity and Hardeep Gulati of the education-management software company PowerSchool, who have been summoned to Miami Beach, waiting to swap insights about artificial intelligence and other pressing topics. And Smith deploys more than 100 full-time consultants to improve his companies.

“Nobody ever taught these guys the blocking and tackling of running a software company,” says Smith, an engineer by training, as he takes a lunch break at South Beach’s 1 Hotel to nibble on a plant-based burger. “And we do it better than any other institution on the planet.”

Smith includes the likes of Oracle and Microsoft in that boast, and his numbers back up the braggadocio. Since the Austin-based firm’s inception in 2000, Vista’s private equity funds have returned 22% net of fees annually to limited partners, according to PitchBook data. Smith’s annual realized returns, which reflect exits, stand at a staggering 31% net. His funds have already made distributions of $14 billion, including $4 billion in the last year alone.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Vista has become America’s fastest-growing private equity firm, managing $31 billion across a range of buyout, credit and hedge funds. Smith is putting all that money to work at a breakneck pace, with 204 software acquisitions since 2010, more than any tech company or financial firm in the world. After finishing an $11 billion fundraising for its latest flagship buyout fund last year, Smith has already deployed more than half of it, focusing as usual on business-to-business software. “They recognize it’s a kind of central nervous system,” says Michael Milken, whose bond-market innovations basically birthed the modern private equity industry and who has been a co-investor in two Vista deals. Taken together, Vista’s portfolio, with 55,000 employees and more than $15 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

A Leading Voice in Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

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Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program.

Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets, where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years’ experience in technology, design, and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

In 2014 Wayne co-founded BUILDUP, a non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs through educational workshops and fellows program for underrepresented tech founders. In 2011, Wayne co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4. Prior to NewMe he worked in media in Raleigh, NC for NBC17 and the News and Observer. In 2009, Wayne was the co-founder of TriOut, a mobile location-based startup in Raleigh, NC which exited. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups. With a passion for community Wayne has organized Social Media Conferences, tech meetups, and hackathons such as the world’s first Food Hackathon, which assembled leading food innovators, chefs, developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions in the food ecosystem.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter, Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter, which has led to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but also Facebook and Google+. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world over the years.

Wayne is a past TED attendee in 2012. With a passion for education and storytelling, Wayne has spoken at several universities and major internet and technology focused conferences, such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, UNC, NC State, TEDx, World Wide Web(WWW) Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), DockerCon 2015 and for the U.S. Embassy Jamaica during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

Source: socialwayne.com

Sell Yourself and Your Brand

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Creating a personal brand helps employers see your uniqueness

Why take the time to develop a personal brand? See how you can stand out to employers.

  • In a tough job market, you need to stand out. Besides helping you identify your personal strengths, having a brand can pull your resume to the top of the pile, make you shine in interviews, and leave your LinkedIn readers positively wowed.
  • Corporations take great care to develop a brand that defines their product. Brands help inspire trust and commitment in consumers; if you apply similar thinking to your personal brand, you can distinguish your value in a way that inspires an employer’s interest in you.
  • With so many marketing options, you need to be consistent. Use your brand in all your job search communications, including your cover letter, in interviews, and in thank-you notes. Your LinkedIn and other social media should clearly reflect you and your professional brand.
  • Most work is project based. Your brand is a shorthand description of what you bring to a team or to the table for projects.

So, are you ready to start thinking—or rethinking—your personal branding strategy?

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

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Are you friendly and always the one to organize social events at work? Your brand could include “an inveterate team builder and initiator.”
  • Do you take unusual care to ensure details are thoroughly thought through and accurate? Your brand could be “willing to take on the precision that scares others away.”
  • You might be an outstanding supervisor who makes operations flow and brand yourself “a problem-solver who excels at developing talent.”

You can identify your signature characteristics yourself or work with a career coach or counselor to help you identify them. It’s a good idea to ask for some feedback on your ideas from a few trusted friends or colleagues before you go public with your brand to avoid a mismatch of how you see yourself and how you may come across to others.

Source: careeronestop.org

This 21-Year-Old Vegan Cafe Owner Is Making Healthy And Affordable Foods “Accessible To Everyone”

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Francesca Chaney is changing the game, one meal at a time. The 21-year-old college student is the owner and creator of Sol Sips, a vegan cafe located in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood.

Sol Sips started as a temporary pop-up shop that is being renovated to become a permanent location for anyone looking for a healthy and affordable meal. The cafe features an entirely plant-based menu of food and drinks, with no more than four ingredients in every product.

“The response that we got in the three months was really positive,” Cheney told VIBE of the pop-up shop. “We got a lot of feedback that encouraged us to keep going, so what it’s grown into is making these foods accessible to everyone.”

Despite being the daughter of a vegan nutritionist, Cheney was never pressured into following a plant-based diet. Instead, her mother made sure that she “understood the importance of eating healthy and eating plants.”

At age 16, Cheney (and some of her friends) transitioned into vegetarianism, but she wasn’t exactly eating the best foods. The only after-school meatless meals available in her neighborhood were fried tofu and broccoli from a local Chinese restaurant. “In terms of being a ‘healthy vegetarian’ or ‘healthy vegan,’ I didn’t really start that until around the time that I started creating the Sol Sips brand,” she said.

Cheney began making her very own beverages and unique herbal tea mixtures three years ago, which she sold in her community, and at different festivals and events. By 2017, Cheney scored a temporary pop-up space, and as of this year, her story has been spreading all around the internet.

Going forward, Chaney wants to lead neighborhood food tours and visits to local farms, to teach residents about the food options in their own communities. Her main goal is to educate people on the benefits of a plant-based diet without being pushy or overbearing.

Days before her official grand opening, VIBE spoke with the young entrepreneur about the challenges of running a business, and how she plans to turn Sol Sips into a global brand.

VIBE: How did Sol Sips evolve into a cafe?
Francesca Cheney: We were doing events, weekend gigs and festivals and we had an opportunity to do a pop-up [cafe] in an actual space. It was our trial period to test that vision with regular, local people, as opposed to somebody that is going to the festival because they know that they want to buy certain things. This was solely to be in the space of community.

Continue onto VIBE to read the complete article.

New Doctors Break Barriers in Engineering

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Women Engineering Graduates

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 scientists and engineers in the United States. Studies from researchers around the world reveal that one antidote to this disparity is to ensure there are more role models in underrepresented communities.

Three Florida A&M University (FAMU) female doctoral students, who are also best friends, recently received their doctorates in engineering. They endured setbacks, including the loss of a classmate, and overcame financial hurdles to ensure that they join the next generation of engineering leaders who will help close that gap.

On April 29, Miami native and Fulbright Scholar Renee Gordon, pictured left, received her doctorate of philosophy in mechanical engineering; Miami Beach native and Winifred Burks-Houck Professional Leadership awardee Shannon Anderson, pictured right, received her doctorate of philosophy in civil engineering, with a concentration in environmental engineering; and Birmingham, Alabama, native and NSF International Research Experiences grantee Marcella Carnes received her doctorate of philosophy in civil engineering with a concentration in structures.

Each earned their doctorate degrees under the guidance of FAMU’s School of Graduate Studies and Research and through support as participants in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Title III Funding Program. They are considering next steps, including job offers and research opportunities. In the meantime, Gordon and Anderson will spend the summer teaching and helping to recruit the next generation of engineering students, while Carnes prepares for her wedding.

“We realize that we’re breaking barriers when it comes to minorities and also women in STEM fields,” Gordon said. “I feel like it’s really important for our young Black and Brown boys and girls to know that they can aspire to be whatever they want to be, including engineers.”

Carnes added, “I feel proud to be an African-American woman in the STEM fields. There’s not that many of us (women). We’ve been challenged because STEM is male dominated, (but) we are examples of the things that you can set your mind toward and finish. We are no longer ‘Hidden Figures.’ We have definitely been revealed.”

In addition to inspiring the next generation to break barriers, the trio wants to encourage them to pursue careers that will improve our way of life. They say the best place to develop a career that makes a difference is at FAMU.

“Not only did we receive the financial support, but we also received emotional support; we received the bond that we share in this community and a family that’s striving to achieve the same goal. We have a shoulder to lean on when we feel like we can’t move on,” said Carnes, who also enjoyed unique opportunities when she studied abroad in Poland as a part of a program that allowed her to study civil engineering at campuses in four countries.

“FAMU’s programs have been a tremendous help in assisting us both academically and professionally. The faculty and staff have been amazing,” Gordon said.

Anderson, who completed two engineering fellowships in California, including the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium Summer Fellowship at the University of California, explained how her experience at FAMU empowered her to embrace her culture and who she is as a scholar.

“The most important thing that FAMU has taught me is confidence in myself. My education process from middle school all the way up to my bachelor’s was at predominantly white institutions where I felt like the odd one out in honors classes, gifted classes and advanced placement classes,” she said. “At FAMU, I felt like ‘I am actually supposed to be here,’ and everyone is on equal footing, not just skin color-wise but also education-wise.”

The women agree that confidence helped the trio work through system crashes, equipment failure, multiple trials and errors, and even with overcoming tragedy, as they all worked toward the finish line of their education.

In 2014, they suddenly lost colleague Tarra M. Beach, an environmental engineering doctoral candidate. She passed away before she received her doctorate. Her goal was to “contribute to the sustainability of the environment and work on STEM education with underrepresented children.”

“She would have been the first woman to graduate with her engineering Ph.D., from the Title III program at FAMU. So, we were next in line to just follow her example, her dedication, her passion and drive,” Anderson said.

Beach’s legacy helped motivate the young women to complete their goals.

Gordon explained the loss of Beach and earning a degree in a field where women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented taught her and her friends the lesson of a lifetime: Nothing is impossible when you persevere.

“It was tough, but we had each other. We stayed connected. Just keep on going. Be determined. Be persistent,” Gordon said.

Photo Credit: Adam VL Taylor/FAMU
Source: blackprwire.com

One of The Largest Black-Owned Airlines Is Being Run By A Savvy 29 Year-Old Woman

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You may not have known that there are black-owned airlines, but guess again. Sherrexcia ‘Rexy’ Rolle is the Vice President of Operations and General Counsel for Western Air, a Bahamas-based black-owned aviation business. Although the company was founded by her parents Rex and Shandrice Rolle, Rexy has led the charge in expanding her family’s privately-owned business which has been in existence for approximately two decades. With a net worth of $90+ million, Western Airlines has been steadily increasing its routes across the Caribbean, including direct flights to Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and soon Florida. In this interview, Rexy describes how Western Air came to be and shares advice on how to make it in the aviation industry as a person of color.

Let’s get into the history of Western Air. What prompted your family to delve into the business of aviation?

Rexy: My parents were very young and just started out their lives when they had me. My mom was 17 and my Dad was 18,  just beginning his career as a pilot. We are from a small town called Mastic Point, Andros in the Bahamas. My father started his career in the aviation industry as a private pilot by trade, however, owning his own airlines and developing it in the Bahamas was a lifelong dream of his. My parents worked tirelessly and persevered in developing this business by saving their money and doing their research with various aircraft brokers. My parents were eventually fortunate enough through faith, their persistence and dedication in their business plan to [receive offers] from two aviation investors from the U.S. From that moment moving forward, Western Air Limited was a dream that is now a reality.

Developing an airline is a lucrative but very competitive industry. What were the market gaps that your family wanted to bridge when developing Western Air Ltd.?

Rexy: With any business, it is all about knowing your industry and what particular problem you are solving for the consumer. In the Bahamas, there are over 700 islands and many Bahamians usually take small charter ferries as transportation to the other islands. Even though we have a very efficient government airline in the Bahamas, there were certain islands that were not being targeted for our consumers to have a convenient way to travel. This is where our airline comes in and once we recognized those gaps in the market, we were able to convince our investors why our airline is needed.

Continue onto Bauce to read the complete interview.

This Simple Exercise Will Help You Make Better First Impressions

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Making good firt impressions

Like it or not, the world’s built on first impressions. People’s perceptions of you—how much they remember or pay attention to you, whether they’re engaged by you, whether they’ll have or even want another conversation with you, what they’ll tell others about you, and why they may seek you out in the future—are all based on their initial encounter with you.

And knowing what kind of first impression you make involves a little self-awareness. But obviously, being self-aware doesn’t magically occur overnight. It requires you to understand the ways you shine and the ways you suck. You have to know your pitfalls and shortcomings. (We’re sure you don’t have many, but we all have things we can work on.) It’s worth taking the time to become though. Because when you’re self-aware, you learn to play to your strengths and minimize or eliminate your weaknesses.

This takes practice, of course. So, that’s why we suggest people start by taking inventory—as in make a list, check it more than twice, and write down your answers on a piece of paper. When you’re forced to write it down, you’re forced to be truthful with yourself.

This is for your eyes only (unless you want to share it with someone else), so we encourage you to be honest. By looking into yourself, you can determine what needs adjustment, what calls for just a little tweaking, and what works in your favor:

-Do you understand the concept of personal space?
-Do you exude confidence or arrogance?
-Are you a listener or a talker?
-Do your words carry weight or air?
-Are you a good public speaker, or are you better online?
-Are you comfortable walking up to a stranger and striking up a conversation, or would that give you a panic attack?
-How do others really see you upon first contact?
-What sorts of things are you really bad at when it comes to meeting with people?
-Do you need help getting organized?
-Are you a good decision maker?
-Do you take time getting back to people?
-Do you hate conversations that aren’t about your interests or matters of importance to you?
-Do you like small talk?
-Are you naturally inquisitive or close-minded?
-Have you ever changed your position on a deeply held belief?
-Do you lie? If so, why? Is it because you want to feel self-important or because you feel like you need to keep up and fit in?
-Finally, are you okay with what you’ve learned about yourself? Is there anything that bears correction?

So, now what?

Well, we’ve done this ourselves, by the way. And what we learned has helped us immensely in our own lives.

Scott, for example, often makes business decisions in the moment, but sometimes that’s been a negative in his life. Earlier in his career, acting quickly on introducing people backfired. He skipped critical thinking steps that could have avoided burning bridges or turning people off. After doing this inventory and realizing this, he’s changed the way he makes decisions. While he still makes business decisions daily, he rarely acts impulsively anymore.

Ryan, on the other hand, is a better listener than talker in group situations. This can be a strength and also a weakness, especially when more outgoing people are involved in a group conversation and his instinct is to take the backseat and let them tell their stories. “It’s great to be a good listener, but difficult for me to make an impression and drive the conversation in these situations,” he says. To compensate, he often carves out one-on-one time with the people who matter to him. Sharing a cup of coffee at a cozy café is probably more valuable than an open bar at a group networking event.

Try this exercise out for yourself and use it as a jumping off point to decide in what situations you shine, and in which situations you might not. The more you understand about yourself, the easier it’ll be for you to create those powerful connections and become a superconnector.

Originally posted on The Muse

What to wear to work

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Work Attire

For six months, Edward Rangel excelled as a waiter at a Red Robin in Bellevue, Washington. Customers and supervisors might occasionally notice the small religious inscriptions he had tattooed around his wrists, but no one complained about them, and they didn’t interfere with his duties serving food.

Then a new manager started at the franchise. Displeased by the tattoos, the boss told Rangel to conceal the ink, citing company policy. Rangel explained his belief that covering the tattoos violated his Kemetic faith and asked the company to accomodate his religion. Management refused to make an exception on the grounds that changing its dress code policy would undermine its “wholesome image.” So Rangel was fired.

That’s when the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stepped in, filing a suit to defend Rangel’s right to an accomodation. Red Robin eventually agreed to settle the case, paying Rangel $150,000 and making policy changes to protect the rights of other employees.

Choosing work attire poses a perennial puzzle. Companies often have both explicit dress code policies and unspoken rules about the unofficial office dress code, but as Rangel’s story demonstrates, those rules can’t infringe on workers’ rights. And just because an outfit is allowed at the office doesn’t necessarily mean it will make a good impression on your boss or clients.

What’s legal at work?

Companies are legally allowed to implement and enforce a dress code as long as it is reasonable and tied to a legitimate business purpose, says J.J. Conway, an attorney who specializes in employment law.

What’s appropriate for the office?

Choosing appropriate work attire depends on your industry, company and specific job function. The key consideration? “Dressing for your audience,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.

People who work in creative fields, like media, advertising, entertainment or cosmetology, may have more freedom to express their personalities in their clothing, Whitmore says. In those careers, bright colors, funky accessories and innovative hairstyles may be acceptable or even expected.

Conversely, employees in conservative fields like wealth management or a government agency often must dress more formally, sometimes in suits.

No matter your general industry, your company will likely have written or unwritten corporate culture rules for what to wear to work. Figuring out what’s acceptable may take research and a bit of inference. When you first go into an office for a job interview, make sure to look at what your interviewer and the other employees are wearing and take mental notes.

After you’re hired, if your workplace lacks a written dress code policy, or if you want more clarification, it’s best simply to inquire with the human resources department, says Edward Yost, manager of employee relations and development at the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Ask the questions rather than blindly roll the dice and send the wrong message,” he says.

Even if your company has a general set of guidelines, what you should wear depends on your particular job responsibilities. People who work in customer service jobs, for example, should dress for the comfort of their clients and in ways that project competence, Whitmore says.

Regardless of the particulars of your company dress code or office culture, office clothes should fit well, be clean and cover what children call “private parts.”

“Presentation is the most important,” says Bridgette Raes, personal stylist and author. “No matter what you’re wearing, make sure it’s in good shape, well cared for and you look groomed.”

What is business casual attire?

Many office environments call for business professional or business casual attire. That typically means slacks, khaki pants or modest skirts or dresses; cardigans, blouses or button-down collared shirts; and closed-toe dress shoes. Raes suggests putting thought into work bags, too: “Don’t take the same grubby backpack you carried all over your college campus.”

In terms of what not to wear, it’s important not to distract others with your outfits, Raes says. “You want to make sure you’re standing out for the right reasons,” not because your clothes call attention to you, she explains.

There are two universal “don’ts” for how to dress business casual: no shorts and no flip flops. Beyond that, Raes advises against casual sandals, sweatshirts, any type of “athleisure” wear and clothing that is distressed or ripped. Outfits that are too revealing are not appropriate for the office.

Dress for the job you want

It may sound trite, but experts agree that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Taking clothing cues from your boss could help you attain his or her position in the future.

You never want your manager to question your professional capabilities because of your outfits. Supervisors sometimes have to “fight the stereotype or that silent judgment that’s been formulated” because of what a worker wears, Yost says. “People who don’t work with the individual on a day-to-day basis may see the tattoos, piercings, vintage clothing that’s not your standard business casual, and when they’re up for a promotion, the question will come: ‘How serious are they?'”

This also means to think carefully about what to wear to an interview. It’s important to dress to impress when you’re hoping to get hired, so even if the company usually follows a business casual dress code, consider donning formal business attire. For example, after a period of job seeking, one of Raes’ clients changed the outfit she wore during interviews and saw immediate results: She received three job offers in one week.

The lesson? “When we change how we present ourselves, we send our message more effectively,” Raes says.

What happens if you violate the dress code?

If you had to wear a uniform in school, you’re probably familiar with the impulse to disobey the dress code. And although your boss probably won’t make you stand up in front of your co-workers while she measures the length of your hem, employers may take punitive action against workers who repeatedly violate the office dress code.

There’s usually a “progressive discipline process,” Yost says, meaning that a manager or HR representative may treat a first-time violation as a learning opportunity: “We’re not going to send you home today, but going forward, we would prefer you not wear jeans with rips and holes in them.”

If someone continually flouts the rules, an employer might send him or her home and dock pay. And if the problem continues, the employee may be fired.

What’s appropriate for the office gym?

Office gyms are popular perks, but they are also landmine fields when it comes to clothing. Employees who work out at the company gym should remember that they’ll likely run into their co-workers while putting in miles on the treadmill or lifting weights. Avoid wearing T-shirts with offensive slogans or outfits that are excessively revealing, Raes recommends: “You’re still in the workplace; this is not personal time.”

What’s appropriate for the office holiday party?

Similarly, treat your office holiday party as a work experience that requires appropriate dress. Your boss will take note if you wear anything too revealing or silly.

“You want to continue to send a professional and positive message,” Yost says. “People make silent judgments all the time. They’re not going to come up and tell you, ‘That tie you wore was stupid and I lost a lot of respect for you,’ but it still may be happening in their minds.”

On Halloween, if your workplace permits employees to wear costumes, keep yours reasonable.

What about tattoos and piercings?

Attitudes toward tattoos in the workplace and piercings in the workplace have changed in the past few decades, but not every employer will be happy to see them, Yost says.

“[Tattoos] are generally more accepted than they would have been 10 or 15 years ago,” he says. “However, there are going to be some ‘family-run’ environments, or ‘family-friendly’ environments who may be a little more rigid: ‘Sure you can have your tattoos, but we’re going to ask you to keep them covered while at work.'”

If you’re wondering how to cover up tattoos for work, Yost recommends long-sleeved shirts, strategically placed Band-Aids or applying foundation makeup that’s the same color as your skin tone.

Continue on to money.usnews.com/money/careers to read the complete article.

How These Black Founders Are Building Startups Without Investors

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Research shows that black founders face disproportionate barriers to funding despite enormous economic potential. But here’s how several are pushing ahead.

As a woman of color, Janine Truitt was intrigued when she met an investor last winter whose “whole schtick” was to help underrepresented minorities raise money for their companies. But she was skeptical.

The owner of Talent Think Innovations, a consulting firm she founded in 2013, Truitt had bootstrapped her business and wasn’t initially convinced that venture capital was the best way to grow it. “I was thinking about my business as a legacy that I would build and pass down,” she tells Fast Company, “and that is not something investors love. They want to know if it’s a solid idea, [that] there’s a need for it in the market, and how quickly you can get out of it and pay [them].”

Many black and Latinx entrepreneurs feel more congenial about venture capital than Truitt does, but most have disproportionate trouble accessing it all the same. Those who struggle to get funded typically need to find other ways to innovate and grow. Here’s how.

VAST UNTAPPED POTENTIAL

Women entrepreneurs launched some 3.5 million new businesses over the past decade, according to the most recent “State of Women-Owned Businesses” report, with as many as 78% of them owned by women of color. By 2016, an estimated 1.9 million firms owned by black women employed some 376,500 workers, generating $51.4 billion in revenue.

Yet despite all this combined economic clout, venture capitalists have largely stayed away. A 2014 Babson College study found that most women-led businesses have been funded by the founder herself or by friends and family. Only 4% of women-owned businesses and 13% of minority-owned businesses received VC funding last year. Part of the reason is that less than 3% of VC funds have black and Latinx investment partners, according to analysis by Social + Capital.

Despite these long odds and her own reservations, Truitt knew how helpful investor backing might be for getting the tech solution she was working on off the ground–a multi-sensory platform for jobseekers with disabilities–around the time she met the equity-minded investor. So after a little encouragement, Truitt pitched her product. Impressed, the investor team offered her another meeting, so she spent the month of December hiring and leading a team of developers to build out the product, then sent off schematics for feedback.

Shortly after New Year’s, Truitt says she received an email from one of the partners saying they’d need to see the technology gain at least six months of traction in the market before deciding whether to invest. He also asked if she’d thought more about their earlier suggestion that she turn the business into a nonprofit. That wasn’t a route Truitt was initially planning to pursue, although she was open to it. Nevertheless, she’d wished their interest in investing in nonprofits had come out on the table earlier. “[My product] was always a solid idea,” she maintains, adding, “They may have the money, but it’s a partnership.”

The VC firm granted Truitt another meeting, but she hasn’t heard anything since. “I am just moving forward on my own,” she says.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

6 Pieces of Career Change Advice You’ll Regret Ignoring

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Career-Change

Have you reached a point in your career where the thought of continuing the same work for the rest of your life is more frightening than the thought of starting something new? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone!

It’s time to seriously consider that career change you’ve been fantasizing about. Many have gone before you and felt the same concern you’re feeling. But they overcame the obstacles and never looked back. We asked a few of these pioneers to share their best career change advice. Keep reading and prepare to be empowered.

Words of wisdom from successful career changers:

1 Your age is only a number.

“It is never too late to explore another career,” says Nancy Irwin, who made the leap from stand-up comedy to psychology at age 44. Her decision was spurred by her volunteer work at a shelter for sexually abused teenagers. “It woke the healer in me and prompted me to return to school,” she recalls.

Irwin is now a doctor of psychology and the author of You-Turn: Changing Direction in Midlife. When people asked her exactly how old she would be when she finally entered the workforce in her new career, she answered, “Exactly the same age I’ll be if I don’t!” She encourages anyone considering a career change to ignore the inevitable nay-sayers and adds that in some careers, like psychology, your age is actually an asset.

2 Do your homework.

Making a drastic change doesn’t mean you have to proceed recklessly. Any potential new career should be thoroughly researched, according to life coach Tom Casano. You can learn a lot from a little research. Do you need more school or a different degree, certification, or experience? Casano’s own career path transitioned from music to finance, before finally launching his company Life Coach Spotter. His experience taught him to do a test drive with the new career before diving in headfirst.

“Shadow someone, go to his or her work environment and see how you like it. See if you can intern for a few weeks,” he advises. Even if you can’t commit many hours to investigation while holding your current job, he believes coordinating with someone in your desired new field and visiting his or her workplace for an afternoon is worth the effort. Since you spend so much of your life in a job, it’s important to be sure it’s something you enjoy.

3 Be open-minded.

Marisol Hernandez changed from a career in mechanical engineering to one of entrepreneurship. She recalls attending a presentation about careers in which they said the average person will change careers seven times. The thought seemed absurd to her at the time, but it stuck with her until she eventually took a leap of faith and started her own window fashion company, Exciting Windows.

Hernandez’s best piece of advice is to always keep an open mind. “Realize that doing what you love might come in different ways and not be limited to the field you graduated from,” she says. She advises others to strive to make their career a piece of a larger goal to lead a satisfying life.

4 Develop a skills-based resume.

One of the barriers with a career change is representing to potential employers that you possess the skills they’re seeking. Vern May worked as a professional wrestler for years under the name of Vance Nevada before an injury forced him to look elsewhere. His background in wrestling was so unique that employers couldn’t reconcile his past experience with the job he applied for.

“I applied for more than 40 jobs and didn’t get a single interview until I took the emphasis off my work history and developed a skills-based resume,” May says. He realized that the marketing, writing and administration abilities he developed while balancing many different jobs over time was a more marketable way to promote himself as a professional. Just three weeks after giving his resume a makeover, he found employment in economic development.

May suggests tailoring your resume to highlight the skills you have that will most benefit the organization for which you’re applying.

5 Make a detailed game plan.

Gregory Cumberford went from electrical engineer to dentist when he realized he wanted to be in a career that helped people. Since the industry of electrical engineering is quite different from that of dentistry, he made a detailed plan of attack for his career change.

“I put down a spreadsheet of all the requirements and goals. Then I broke the tasks down into small, manageable steps,” he explains. Start with your big-picture goals and whittle each part down until you have a step-by-step strategy to accomplish it. This helps change your mindset from viewing it as a big obstacle to viewing it as a progression of steps.

Cumberford believes careful planning and hard work are the most important aspects of reaching your goal, along with believing in yourself. After hearing people try to dissuade him from making his career change, he decided to adjust his language. “I stopped saying I’m trying to go to dental school. I told people, I am going to dental school.”

6 Master the art of communication.

No matter what field you plan on transitioning into, strong communication is a must, according to Hernandez. “Communicating and learning to sell yourself are key in any career you are in,” she says. This applies both vertically and laterally. You want to be able to represent yourself to employers, but strong communicators can also make use of networking to achieve their goals and gain support in a career change.

Hernandez joined an association of business owners to gain mentors and resources during her entrepreneurial venture.

If you don’t know anyone in the field you are breaking into, Casano recommends reaching out via LinkedIn and asking people about their jobs. It never hurts to ask, and you might forge a useful connection down the road.

Source: rasmussen.edu
Author:  Brianna Flavin

About the Author
Brianna Flavin is a freelance writer for Collegis Education and writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She earned her MFA in poetry in 2014 and looks for any opportunity to write, teach, or talk about the power of effective communication.

 

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