Celebrating Black History Month: Ken Chenault Talks Diversity in the Workforce, TIAA Takes Students on an Educational Journey

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TIAA_Chenault Group

“Be intellectually curious, push the envelope, and be caring and decisive.”

These are wise words from Ken Chenault, Chairman and Managing Director of General Catalyst and former American Express Chairman and CEO, who spoke to TIAA employees on February 6 in TIAA’s New York City office and broadcasted nationally to TIAA employees via phone and video conference.

In honor of Black History Month, and in support of TIAA’s Empowered Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black professionals, Mr. Chenault spoke about the importance of diversity in the workplace and actions we can all take every day to embody true leadership.

Mr. Chenault shared his experiences with becoming an effective and decisive leader. He also shared advice and actions everyone can take to push for diversity and change in the workforce nationwide:

  • Rely on your values in times of crisis, being decisive and compassionate
  • Bring your whole self to work
  • Express yourself fully
  • Create a welcoming environment
  • Take personal responsibility to drive innovation

Mr. Chenault also shared best practices on how companies can be innovative in their approach to increasing diversity. He explained that diversity and inclusion needs to be handled like a core business initiative.  He reiterated the obvious need for more diverse leadership in America – more CEOs of color and women are needed.

Mr. Chenault encouraged companies to increase hiring of diverse talent to build a diverse pipeline as a way of increasing diversity in leadership as well.  “We have a long way to go, to improve diversity,” he said. He emphasized that the company culture has to be evident that people are truly included and engaged with each other. “Fundamentally, if you’re talking about culture – if people are proud and engaged – that’s what you want,” he said.

Other best practices he shared:

  • Define objectives and execute to create outcomes
  • Have great invention and transformation. Become the company that could put you out of business one day
  • Innovate or die. Don’t stand still
  • Build a diverse pipeline of talent
  • Have survey and metrics on diversity – it creates accountability
TIAA_Chenault and Zarifa
Ken Chenault with Zarifa Reynolds, Head of Corporate Development at TIAA

After the discussion, TIAA recognized Mr. Chenault with the inaugural TIAA Leadership in Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Award for demonstrating commitment to I&D, challenging the status quo, and raising the bar in the workplace for fair and equitable treatment.

“Ken Chenault’s fireside chat energized and inspired those who attended the event.  TIAA employees commented that they were most struck by Ken’s definition of his leadership style as one that was caring and decisive, where he defined reality and gave hope and one where he integrated diversity and inclusion into every aspect of business outcomes,” said Zarifa Reynolds, Head of Corporate Development at TIAA and New York Chapter Co-Lead of the Empowered Employee Resource Group (ERG).

“Mr. Chenault’s perspective resonated with our employees by demonstrating the efficacy of inclusion as a business imperative. Inclusion is not simply morally right – it’s a key source of customer centricity, innovation, and business results,” said Jourdan Jones, Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy at TIAA and New York Chapter Co-Lead of the Empowered Employee Resource Group (ERG).

TIAA advocates for diversity and inclusion – in and outside the office.  In addition to inviting Ken to speak to employees for Black History Month, TIAA is also celebrating by giving back to the community and pushing the envelope for diversity in education and opportunities for students.

“Innovation – we have to own it every day,” said Corie Pauling, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at TIAA. “Getting everyone involved in the I&D work is an important strategy and goal for TIAA, which will help position the company for the next 100 years.”

TIAA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team is providing an opportunity for local students in Charlotte at Vance High School, an adopt-a-school relationship TIAA has established, to participate in an educational Washington D.C. field trip. Fifty students (10th-12th grades) will partake in a unique tour experience within the National Museum of African American History and Culture on February 23.  Students and chaperones will also tour Howard University, a HBCU in D.C., to learn about the college and its programs. TIAA is also providing EverFi’s digital 306 African American Curriculum to an entire school district in Charlotte at no-cost.

Chosen for their exemplary African American Studies essays, these students will also have exposure to a digital, online education & training company that will further their career connections via a speed networking event at EVERFI’s headquarters in the D.C. area.

The CSR team arranged a volunteer event with the Empowered Employee Resource Group members to host a discussion at Vance H.S. around the 306 curriculum, specifically on the lessons / modules of the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” “The Tuskegee Institute,” and “W.E.B. Du Bois.”

TIAA CSR Black History Program CLT

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About How Commission Works—Because Money Matters

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woman working on a calculator

Commission can be a confusing topic for anyone, whether you’re great with money or not. Maybe you’re considering a job with a commission structure or are currently in a field where commission is a big chunk of your compensation.

If you’re not sure how it all works in the business world, we’ll break down the concept so you come out a little wiser than you were before.

What Is Commission?

Commission is additional compensation that’s earned based on job performance. When you agree to a commission-based role or commission structure (often by signing an agreement), you agree to be paid a certain amount of money that’s dependent on hitting some goal—goods sold, meetings closed, hires placed, to name a few examples.

What Kinds of Jobs Work Under a Commission Structure?

When you think of commission, your mind immediately goes to a sales-type role (think of a retail salesperson trying to get you to buy that extra pair of jeans). Commission is popular in most sales jobs because their responsibilities are heavily tied to a company’s revenue goals. Having the opportunity to earn commission—sometimes a hefty amount—motivates those individuals to hit or get close to their quarterly or yearly goals.

But commission can pop up in other places, too. In recruiting, you’re often provided a commission on each candidate you successfully place—usually a percentage of their annual salary. As an account manager, you can earn commission on clients you upsell or renew for the year. And in real estate you can get a cut of the money you make selling a property. In fact, in some roles commission makes up almost all of your compensation, meaning your income is variable and highly dependent on your output.

When Is Commission Paid Out?

It works differently at every company, but in general commission payment can be distributed monthly, quarterly, or yearly, depending on a company’s structure and when commission is considered “earned.”

For example, a company may define commission “earned” for a salesperson as when the new client signs a contract. This means that the employee who sold the deal won’t get their commission until a signature is collected and the deal is verified (which usually means they double check to ensure the right salesperson is compensated and the overall transaction is clean and accurate).

Another example: In recruiting, typically commission is earned when someone is hired and stays at the company for a period of time, maybe three or four months. If the new hire leaves before then, the recruiter doesn’t get the commission.

How Is Commission Calculated?

Commissions can be calculated by a set percentage or by a formula. As mentioned above, a recruiter generally gets a percentage of the new hire’s starting salary (usually 10 to 20%), while sales people may have a formula-based commission structure.

Take this scenario. In sales, your total compensation could be 50% base salary and 50% commission. So if your total yearly compensation agreement is for $100,000, $50,000 of that is guaranteed for the year and $50,000 is based on how well you perform. You may earn less than the $100,000 if you don’t reach your goal, but you may also be able to earn more than that number as long as your company doesn’t have a cap or “ceiling”—meaning the point at which an employer stops paying you more commission.

But a company may use an upward sloping curve to decide commission (where you’d earn less than 60%) because they want to really incentivize employees to get as close to their goal as possible—and to even exceed it and make a lot more money. What can be frustrating about this, of course, is that it’s not an easy formula to follow, so it’s not entirely clear what your commission will look like until you receive your paycheck.

They could also use a tiered model (the staircase line). This means you earn the same dollar amount of commission until you reach a certain percentage of your quota, where it jumps up in amount.

There may be other exceptions when you can earn more than the formula typically allows. If you sell a deal where the customer signs on for two years or a special kind of product, for instance, you may earn extra commission for that.

There’s also a concept called a “minimum performance threshold” or “floor,” which is common for more senior-level employees. This basically means that the person must get some percentage to goal in order to start earning any commission—the understanding being that a certain level of underperformance is unacceptable.

If you’re unclear as to how your commission is calculated, talk to your HR or finance departments, or your boss or team lead.

What Happens if I Leave a Job Before Getting My Commission Check?

Whether or not commission is owed to an employee after they’ve been terminated or left a role depends on a number of factors, including what’s defined as “earned” between the company and the employee and state wage law (you can see your state’s rules and regulations around wages here).

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

7 Tips to Help Mentally Overcome an Employment Gap

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Here’s advice on overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create before they sabotage your job search, from those who’ve been there.

William Childs loves his new job. He is Marketing Director at Kitchen Magic, a growing national kitchen remodeling and cabinet refacing company. “This job is a creative person’s dream. The product, the people, the collaborative ideas we are generating, it’s totally amazing,” Childs says. “This is what I spent my 14-month employment gap searching for, and I am so glad I didn’t give up on my career goals.”

Employment gaps do not define you

According to a recent Randstad U.S. study, the average job search today takes about five months. When Childs was laid off late in 2017 from an executive-level marketing job, he did not anticipate a longer-than-average employment gap. He explained: “When my old job was eliminated, it was the first time in many years that I had no specific job to go to next. I had always benefited from people just knowing me and my work, so starting from scratch while unemployed felt pretty weird.” When a few leads at the beginning of his job search didn’t materialize, he felt a bit demoralized.

According to a 2019 Monster survey, 59 percent of Americans have had an unexpected gap in their career. For a lot of people looking for jobs with a gap on their resume, there can be internalized feelings of shame, says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist, CEC-certified executive coach, and author of “The YOU Plan.” “Shame puts on a lot of added pressure to an already stressful time, which can lead to obsession,” Dr. Woody explains. “Don’t victimize yourself over a lost job or a failure in the past. It can be debilitating.”  He advises readers to recognize their setback as just that, a setback — then deal with it and move on to better things.

Childs did keep moving forward. He designed an online portfolio and kept adding to it during his hiatus by taking on freelance work. He wrote for an online magazine and volunteered his talents to local non-profit groups. A year into his search, he took an advertising sales job as he continued to apply for positions. “The sales job was what I needed to do financially, and what I needed to do for my own piece of mind,” he reflects. “I was earning income, learning, and connecting with people. It helped me a lot.”

While he did not give up on finding an innovative executive marketing position, Childs needed ways to stay focused and positive on his continued career search. When it comes to overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create, the following advice can help keep you more focused, motivated, and confident.

1. Honesty really is the best policy

Susan is happily employed in Reno, Nevada at The Slumber Yard, a specialty online clearinghouse of reviews, comparisons, and deals for mattresses and bedding products. Prior to taking the job last year, this mattress review specialist (whose name has been changed for this piece) had left the workforce to care for her young son after he was injured in a serious accident. When she was ready to re-enter the workforce, Susan crafted a very targeted resume and cover letter that succinctly addressed her employment gap. Still, the two-year pause in her career had her a little nervous. “I wasn’t exactly sure what the job market would be like for me,” she remembers.

“Her resume had everything we were looking for, and when she told me why she had a gap in her employment history, her honesty really impressed me,” says Matthew Ross, The Slumber Yard’s Co-Founder and COO. Ross immediately called Susan in for an interview. “Her experience and knowledge of our industry are what got her the job. But, the way that she explained her employment gap really showed her character, both as a person and as a professional.”

You can explain your employment gap without oversharing, says Dick Lively, Partner and HR Consulting Director at RAI Resources in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “On a resume or in a cover letter, saying you took time to care for a family member who was ill or that you relocated across the country for your spouse’s job should be enough detail. Keep it professional but not too personal,” he says. It is also OK to exclude a gap explanation from the resume altogether, so long as you are prepared to address it during the interview if you are asked. Just don’t make something up. “At the end of the day, the truth always comes out, explains Lively. “You don’t want to face a potential employer or a new boss and try to explain why you lied.”

2. Don’t stop networking

Your first instinct may be to hide away until you have a new job, but that will not help your efforts. In fact, it might even hurt them. Keeping your name and face out there can help you get an introduction to a hiring manager. Plus, it’s great practice for interviews. “For me, I talked about the creative process and exchanged ideas; it helped me formulate how to best present myself as a job candidate,” says Childs.

Lively suggests that you don’t wait too long after your last job ends to start networking: “It is not only important to get your name out there and to hear about jobs that may be coming up through the grapevine,” he explains. “You also need to talk shop and connect with people. The longer you wait, the less confident you may feel. Interpersonal skills need to be kept sharp, just like any other skill.” That said, it is OK to take a few days or even a couple of weeks after your last job ends to regain your composure before you start networking. The last thing you want to do is get emotional about your job loss in front of your professional connections.

3. Expand your network

As valuable as your tried-and-true network of professional connections is, Dr. Woody cautions that you shouldn’t always drink from the same well when you are trying to find a new job. “Always networking with the same group of people can put blinders on your job search or create an echo chamber where you keep repeating the same steps that aren’t working anymore.”

Expanding his network definitely helped Childs. “Learning about new businesses and how they do things and connecting with new people is very inspiring,” he says. Telling new people a bit about yourself helps remind you about your talents and experience. You don’t know what else is out there if you don’t ever mix things up.

4. Own your truth

“You can, and should, use a positive spin when talking about your experiences,” says Childs. During an interview or a phone screening, don’t try to hide what caused your employment gap. Don’t complain or point fingers either. Tell your story concisely and truthfully, ending with what you learned or what you have gained since. When Childs interviewed with his new employer, he was prepared to lay his cards on the table when the question came up about his resume gap. His honest, three-sentence elevator speech consisted of:

  1. I was laid off when my department was eliminated.
  2. I am now doing advertising sales. It’s not me, but it’s a job, and I am proud of the quality of work I do.
  3. I have learned a lot about customer service through this sales experience, and I can apply that knowledge to my next marketing and creative position.

Dr. Woody believes this kind of planning is invaluable: “Preparation builds confidence. Working on your narrative reminds you that you have talent and have a lot to offer an employer. Taking time to boil it down to a concise summary instills it in your mind. This is who you are.”

5. Keep up a motivating routine

For years, Childs has emailed daily “Thought Bombs” to colleagues and friends. These are quotes he has collected on creativity, inspiration, and business integrity. Throughout his 14-month job search, he committed himself to continuing this morning ritual. “It got me up and thinking, ready for the day,” he says. “On my worst days, I would tell myself, ‘All I gotta do is get out of bed and deliver the Thought Bomb,’ and it really helped me get moving.”

“I really love this,” says Dr. Woody. “He used this routine to get himself into the right mindset each day. He had a purpose that was of value to his mailing list, and the discipline it took to do this daily task set his whole day in positive motion.” For other people, the routine could be mediation, exercise, journaling, or some other daily ritual.

6. Concentrate on the connection

Childs kept himself well-versed in the current ideas and trends in his field. His knowledge and passion for his work inevitably crept into his cover letters and interviews. “People are much more engaged with stories that are filled with excitement, passion, and personality,” says Childs. “Bragging and standard-issue talking points get stale quickly, but if you can connect with someone about what truly motivates and inspires you, they won’t forget you.”

Coming across as arrogant or whiny is a red flag for employers, notes Dr. Woody. But sharing insights and understanding about your field is a way to help them envision working with you. It also helps them put your employment gap into perspective in relation to your qualifications and talent. He explains: “People remember more about how you made them feel than about the specifics of what you said.”

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.

What Does a Diverse Company Look Like?

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By Francisca Brown

Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords in today’s corporate world. But diversity and inclusion must be more than a paragraph in a brochure, a few sentences on a website, or an occasional reference in the employee newsletter.

Firms need to fully embrace these values to reap their true, resounding benefits. But what does an intrinsically diverse company look like? Without being forced or contrived, contemporary companies thrive with a fundamental understanding of ways that employees from all walks of life make the office a better place to work.

A diverse workforce does more than offer varied employee perspectives; it changes the makeup of a company from the inside out. In fact, research shows that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to earn above-average revenue and 15 percent more likely among gender-diverse companies. Clearly, there are reasons reaching far past the surface that make diversity and inclusion in the workplace so important in 2019.

Wider Appeal

The rise of the Internet and social media has brought us closer together, allowing us to share more with a larger global audience. As such, companies are also sharing more about their inner workings, specifically showcasing their workplace culture. With an extremely clear vantage point inside your business, any person can see what your company is about at any point in time.

Your reputation as a diverse brand truly depends on the extent to which you are willing to fully implement the concept into the day-to-day. When your company mirrors the world around you, the realities, insights, and experiences of the collective are embedded into the way your firm does business. And today, people want to work with those they can relate to. The company that truly represents everyone effectively markets to different socioeconomic groups, races, and genders.

Better Service for Your Clients

As part of the expanding global market, clients are no longer one-size-fits-all. According to Rosetta Stone, bilingual employees earn an average of 10 percent more in revenue for their respective companies. Furthermore, employees who speak different languages or who are familiar with other cultures are an asset to national and local corporations alike. As clientele diversifies, your workforce should as well for your customers’ benefit and your own.

Diversity Goes a Long Way in Recruitment

According to Glassdoor, now more than ever, people value diversity as one of the top qualities in a potential employer. Rather than hiring from the same pool of candidates, firms that expand their search to include different schools, environments, and geographic areas have a larger selection of people with various specialties. In recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, companies will have a wider appeal to candidates who otherwise might not have applied.

Innovative Ideas Come from Diverse Groups of People
It goes without saying that different ideas come from different groups of people. Creativity and innovation are aspects that every office needs to be successful.

As one of the main catalysts for both of these attributes, diversity fosters growth that spans across every sector of the company.

In fact, research from Michigan University shows that groups with members from different backgrounds solve problems faster and more effectively. A clear example of innovative ideas generating solutions, this study— Groups of Diverse Problem Solvers Can Outperform Groups of High-Ability Problem Solvers—shows the value a diverse team can bring to your company. With a wider pool of perspectives, teams reach solutions more easily through creative, collaborative thinking.

Retain More of Your Employees

The gig economy is alive and well. According to Mercer.com, people leave jobs at a faster rate than they ever have before. Employees will likely be more inclined to stay at companies where they feel valued, heard, and understood. Fostering growth for more people in your company, regardless of their background, is something everyone can get behind.

In making everyone feel included and represented, more employees will mirror the investment. People want to work for companies that make the effort and look out for their employees’ best interests; committing to diversity is in everyone’s best interest.

About the Author

Francisca Brown is the Senior Director, African-American Multi-Cultural Market Strategy, at Northwestern Mutual.

$2 Million Awarded to Historically Black Colleges and Universities

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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), is announcing grant awards of nearly $2 million to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

In June 2018, MBDA invited HBCUs to propose projects that will achieve one or more of the following objectives: increase their ability to compete for and receive Federal research and development funds; establish partnerships with Federal laboratories and other technology resources; increase Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) entrepreneurship; and compete for Federal contracts.

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities served as the catalyst to creating the black middle class in America and will continue to be the incubator for minority business talent, innovation, and leadership. These important schools generate billions in economic impact annually and are engines for job creation in their local economies across the United States,” said MBDA National Director Henry Childs II. “These grant awards will provide seed money for these institutions to pursue innovative projects and to build more revenue-generating infrastructures to better serve our nation’s future entrepreneurs and workforce.”

The HBCUs that received grant awards include:

  • Clark Atlanta University ($499,497) to develop a STEM entrepreneurship curriculum that increases student interest in the innovation economy at three Atlanta University Center Consortium campuses.
  • Howard University ($359,891) to design a technical support model for 11 HBCUs in the mid-Atlantic region to compete for Federal research and development funds and leverage partnerships with Federal laboratories.
  • South Carolina State University ($404,992) to launch regional training sessions for HBCUs to compete for Federal research and development funds.
  • Tougaloo College ($695,412) to establish a partnership among multiple HBCUs, private companies, federal labs, and research institutions to increase capacity for HBCUs to participate in federal research and contracting opportunities.

These programs are part of the 2018 MBDA Broad Agency Announcement, a new initiative. More than $13 million was awarded for 35 projects focused on Department of Commerce and MBDA priorities from resources that increase disaster preparedness and relief to programs that increase access to capital.

 

Source: Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

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woman business owner

Not only is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, but it is also one of four organizations approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, as part of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Each year, the federal government sets a goal to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to certified Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), particularly in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Becoming a certified WOSB and joining the SBA’s contracting program ensures your business is eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for this program.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for WOSB certification, your company must:

  • Be at least 51 percent, unconditionally and directly, owned and controlled by one or more women, who are U.S. citizens.
  • Be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the SBA’s size standards for that industry. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to check your industry.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Becoming a certified WOSB and participating in the SBA’s WOSB contracting program allows your business to compete for federal contracts within a more limited pool of other qualified WOSBs, thereby increasing your chances of winning business.

These contracts are for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Check out the SBA’s list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are already a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), you can easily apply for WOSB certification as part of your recertification process at no additional charge.

Before starting the application process, please review the criteria for certification and ensure you meet the SBA’s size standards for your industry. When you are applying for recertification, select “Yes” to the WOSB certification question and upload the documents labeled “WOSB Applicants.”

If you are a women-owned business and not yet certified by WBENC, take a moment to read about the benefits of WBENC Certification to see if it is a fit for your business. WBENC is the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and our world-class certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands. If you choose to apply for WBENC certification, you can apply for WOSB certification at the same time.

It’s important to note that once you receive your WOSB certification, you still must complete additional steps to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting program, including providing proof of certification information through certify.SBA.gov, and updating your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. Check out SBA.gov for details.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit wbenc.org/government for details on the WOSB certification process, documentation required, and frequently asked questions.
  • For more information about the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting program, visit SBA.gov.

How MBA Programs are diversifying

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During orientation at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business, first-year MBA student Jasmine Howard received a lesson on the neurochemistry of unconscious bias, which explored “how the brain takes shortcuts and makes stereotyping decisions,” she explains.

In another exercise, students were asked to stand up if they identified with certain groups or preferences. “There was a mix of visually obvious traits like race and ethnicity, but also some less obvious ones like ‘I am or love someone who is LGBTQ or struggling with addiction,'” she says. The point: “To learn on a deeper level all the different aspects that make up a person and what they bring to the table.”

Bias training and similar exercises are becoming routine at business schools around the country seeking to boost the ranks of female and traditionally underrepresented groups in graduate programs – and make them feel welcome on campus. The push can’t come soon enough. Only 16 percent of GMAT test-takers in the U.S. are from underrepresented populations, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test, and many schools have dismal numbers of minority students.

That’s in spite of a growing consensus that diversity in every form – from race and gender to country of origin – improves both the educational experience and the field of business itself, experts say.

“You will learn a lot more when you are interacting with people who think differently than you do than if you’re dealing with people who already think and believe the same things you do,” says Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean for admissions at the Yale School of Management.

And research consistently shows that diverse business teams perform better and achieve superior outcomes, such as greater creativity and innovation. Of the more than 700 business leaders surveyed by the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill in 2016, 95 percent said an inclusive culture is critical to their organization’s future success.

No wonder schools are stepping up their efforts to recruit minority candidates for MBAs and other graduate degrees. According to Juliane Iannarelli, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer for AACSB International, a nonprofit that accredits business schools globally, the institutions making the biggest strides are those “tackling multiple dimensions.”

This can mean engaging minority high school students to think about careers in business, assessing the climate for inclusion and diversity on campus, and staging recruiting events or diversity weekends for prospective business students.

Continue on to U.S. News to read the complete article.

How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

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“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” When a hiring manager asks you this, there may be a few things running through your brain. “Moving (way) up the ranks,” “running this place,” “working for myself,” or “in your job,” for example. None of which are necessarily things you should say out loud in an interview. So, how do you answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This can feel like a bit of a trick question, because sometimes the answer is, “not in this job,” or, “in your job,” or something like, “at a bigger better opportunity elsewhere.” But none of those are things you actually want to say to a hiring manager.

The good news is you can be honest while still telling them what they really want to know. Do you have realistic expectations for your career? Are you ambitious? And does this particular position align with your growth and goals overall?

For example, one way I like to think about it is: Think about where this position could realistically take you, and think about how that aligns with some of your broader professional goals.

So, for example, you might say, “Well I’m really excited by this position at Midnight Consulting because in five years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the energy sector, and I know that’s something that I’ll have an opportunity to do here. I’m also really excited to take on more managerial responsibilities in the next few years and potentially even take the lead on some projects. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing managers, and so developing into a great manager myself is something I’m really excited about.”

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article and view the video.

Meet the Women Fighting to Save Black Mothers: ‘There’s a Lot of Work to Do’

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In recent years, birth stories from stars like Serena Williams and Beyoncé have served to highlight the state of Black maternal health in the United States — Williams, 37, underwent an emergency c-section and endured a a pulmonary embolism and Beyoncé, 37, suffered from preeclampsia and also had an emergency c-section.

The stars’ experiences brought attention to the dire state of medical care for pregnant Black women in the U.S., particularly in poorer communities. Black babies in the country are twice as likely to die in their first year of life than white babies, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C.-based research group. Additionally, Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to suffer pregnancy-related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Black women are also more likely to have a stillbirth, give birth prematurely, have low birth-weight infants, have a miscarriage even. There are a lot of challenges that folks are dealing with,” Black Mamas Matter Alliance co-director Elizabeth Dawes Gay tells PEOPLE. “It boils down to toxic stress, racism in society, in the healthcare setting, disparities in access to care. There’s a lot of work to do. I think we will see a change but it is going to take a long time.”

That’s why Black maternal health advocates are trying to raise more consistent awareness about birth outcomes and establish policy changes to close what is known as the Black-white gap. One example is Black Mamas Matter Alliance’s Black Maternal Health Week, an effort to shed light on the challenges and opportunities in the fight for Black women’s maternal and reproductive justice.

For the complete article, continue on to People.

Jade Colin is the Youngest Black Woman to own a McDonald’s Franchise

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Colin and her employees pose in the lobby of McDonald's

Meet Jade Colin, the youngest black woman to own a McDonald’s franchise.

The New Orleans native, has always been independent  and a hard worker. The 28-year-old started her career in college while working the night shift at a local McDonald’s.

There, she earned promotions and awards, inspiring her to purchase her own franchise.

After graduating from the University of Louisiana with a business degree in 2012, Colin applied for the Next Generation program for children of McDonald’s owners. During the program, Colin earned several awards for her business management skills.

She received a Ray Kroc Award and was recognized as one of the top McDonald’s restaurant managers in the country.

After she finished the two-year program, Colin became a manager at her parents’ franchise. From there, she planned to open her own – and she succeeded.

Colin opened her first franchise in 2016, and she is still the youngest black franchise owner.”

As an African-American community, we need more men and women to know that it’s not just about right now, but it’s about the generations to come,” she told The Black Professional.

LeBron James “I Promise School” Showing Early Signs Of Success

LinkedIn

The scene might be expected on a special occasion at any other public school. At LeBron James’s I Promise School, it was just Monday.

Every day, they are celebrated for walking through the door. This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating.

The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.

“These kids are doing an unbelievable job, better than we all expected,” Mr. James said in a telephone interview hours before a game in Los Angeles for the Lakers. “When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids. Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors.”

For the complete article, continue on to New York Times.

Robin Givens: Standing Up for Women

LinkedIn
Robin Givens, star of the series Riverdale is pictured standing at a podim speaking to an audience

By Jovane Marie

It has been more than 30 years since Riverdale star Robin Givens walked away from an abusive marriage, the traumatic union dissolving in a highly publicized fashion. While it’s a chapter she doesn’t feel the need to dwell on, she has used the experience, along with her platform, to assist and empower fellow survivors of domestic violence and raise awareness for the cause.

Her advocacy has included service as a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, working in support of the YWCA USA (a leading provider of domestic violence and sexual assault programs and services) and DV Leap, which fights to advance legal protections for victims of domestic violence. Givens also serves as a keynote speaker, donates supplies, and makes personal visits to shelters.

It’s an admittedly hard thing to do, and Givens acknowledges that after decades of dogged involvement, she has eased up on revisiting the past to focus on the future.

“I’ve been fully involved for almost 20 years, and it’s not an easy thing to do, because I have to travel back in time,” she says. “When I went through that moment in my life, I was younger than my oldest son—I was a baby! I don’t want to walk around with the weight or badge of that—no one does. I’m ready to live, thrive, and be all that God intended me to be.”

Riverdale Actors Lochlyn Munro, Skeet Ulrich, Martin Cummins, Robin Givens, Luke Perry, Nathalie Boltt, Marisol Nichols, Mädchen Amick, and Mark Consuelos of CW's 'Riverdale' pose for a portrait.
(Top L-R) Riverdale Actors Lochlyn Munro, Skeet Ulrich, Martin Cummins, Robin Givens, Luke Perry, (Bottom L-R) Nathalie Boltt, Marisol Nichols, Mädchen Amick, and Mark Consuelos of CW’s ‘Riverdale’ pose for a portrait. BENJO ARWAS/GETTY IMAGES

Her eyes may be set toward the future, but her hands remain behind to uplift those battling their way through a storyline she knows too well. It is, she accepts, a part of her purpose.

“We all wrestle with our purpose,” she says. “But why go through something if you can’t use the experience to help someone else? It can be hard, sure. But I try to do what I can, as much as I can, whenever I can.”

Her message to those who are facing or living in the aftermath of abuse is clear, concise, and urgent: “You are not alone, and it is not your fault. You have to leave to be safe. And when you get out, and you’re tired of living just to survive, turn your focus to thriving. Now is your time.”

The Power of the Post

After a recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show, Givens was asked if she could imagine going through her tumultuous marriage during the age of social media—wouldn’t it have been crazy?

Her first thought? That time in her life couldn’t have gotten much crazier. Her second? That actually, a social media presence might’ve proved to be a useful tool in showing her she wasn’t alone and convincing her to leave earlier.

Robin Givens poses in a purple dress ,standing with son who is in a dark suit, for a charity event
Robin Givens with son attend the 14th Annual Women Who Care Awards Luncheon Benefiting United Cerebral Palsy PHOTO BY DANIEL ZUCHNIK/WIREIMAGE

“I look at the impact that social media has had on the #MeToo movement, and I think the domestic violence issue is closely aligned in that it involves an abuse of power, and there really is something to social media when it comes to speaking your truth,” she said. “I say it’s wonderful in that you can stand up for yourself—if someone says something about you that isn’t true, you can just hop on Twitter or wherever and say your peace. Your voice has a platform, and there’s extreme power in that.”

Givens is far from labeling the societal mainstay as an absolute positive, though, admitting that society’s fascination with the image of perfection has definite setbacks. As a mother, she laments, thinking about the pressure young people in general and her sons in particular must feel to look a certain way and portray a perfect life.

“It’s a tricky thing, and I’ve played it from multiple perspectives—from being out of the spotlight and not caring in the least about followers or posting to being told I need to boost my engagements and post multiple times a day. It’s really hard to wrap my head around,” she says. “When it comes down to it, there’s an upside and a downside to social media—that’s where balance comes in, and we have to do our best to navigate the waters.”

It’s a balance Givens is learning to measure with increasing precision as she spends more and more time in the digital space promoting her current show, Riverdale, and hosting upcoming projects.

Career 2.0
True to form, Givens never planned on landing a role on the hit show Riverdale as the town’s mayor. It’s an opportunity that found her in Houston cheering on her youngest son at a tennis tournament, of all places.

She’d spent the last few months easing back into acting after being challenged by her publisher to make herself her own project.

“It was actually pretty funny. My children were older and preparing to leave the nest, and telling me, ‘you’re always around mom, go do something,’ and I’d respond, ‘you’re what I do—what do you mean?’ So, when I received the call from my agent asking me to come out to audition, I didn’t think twice. I flew out, read, and by the end of the day, I had a job.”

Robin Givens chats on set with Daily Pop Co-Hosts Justin Sylvester and Carissa Culiner
Givens chats on set with Daily Pop Co-Hosts Justin Sylvester and Carissa Culiner. AARON POOLE/E! ENTERTAINMENT/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Based on the Archie comic strip, Riverdale follows the life of teenager Archie Andrews and his high school exploits in the seemingly idyllic town. If you’re expecting the cookie-cutter storylines of comic strips past, though, you’re out of luck.

“I grew up in the age of Archie and the Pussycats and the whole gang, and I loved them, but in no way is this the Archie I grew up with,” she said. “The creators were brilliant in bringing everything current and dealing with issues that our youth are facing today.”

The best part of the remake by far—and what Givens is most proud of—is the diversity of the cast and the ease with which it’s accomplished.

“The thing I love most is that when you look at the show, you have black people and white people and gay people—so many people are covered, and it’s done effortlessly. It just looks like the world is supposed to look and moves the way the world is supposed to move.”

Riverdale isn’t the only role on her radar. As Givens continues to answer passion’s call, the upcoming projects are starting to stack up.

She stars on ABC’s newly premiered series The Fix, a legal drama co-written and executive produced by Marcia Clark (lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case) that centers on a famous prosecutor searching for redemption and justice after losing a case and freeing a killer years earlier.

Givens is also set to lead an ensemble cast in OWN’s upcoming family drama Ambitions, produced by prolific producer Will Packer and set to premiere later this year.

What’s next on the list? Without a doubt, Givens has her heart set on two future goals: authoring another book and finding her way back to Broadway. Those plans aren’t written in ink, though—she knows they’ll manifest when they’re meant to—and not a moment before.

“It’s not necessarily part of a plan—those are just things I feel it’s important to do for me,” she says. “I’m at a point in my life where I realize that my happiness and passion for life is more important than having what people deem to be a ‘successful’ career; I’m just going with the flow and working on being the best, healthiest, and most well-rounded person I can be.”

Rockin’ Robin

God, truth, authenticity, and yoga. It’s a tried-and-true combination that has seen Givens through her highest peaks and deepest trials.

She’ll be the first to admit that had just one circumstance changed along her journey, life would’ve looked completely different. If her mother had anything to do with it, we’d have never known Givens as the femme fatale Imabelle in Rage in Harlem, the unapologetically feminist Jacquelyn Boyers in Boomerang, or the militant Kiswana Browne in The Women of Brewster Place—we’d be calling her Dr. Givens instead. But, despite the rollercoaster of ups and downs, she acknowledges her path has molded her into a woman she is proud of today.

“I’m very much a work in progress, and it’s hard to say I’m happy for all the difficulty I’ve experienced in my life, but it’s a big part of who I am now,” she says.

“I truly believe there is opportunity in adversity,” Givens continues. “When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm or some unimaginable circumstance, those are the moments to push and stretch to become all we were intended to be.”

Becoming…now that sounds like a plan.

One Of The Largest Class Of Black J.D. Candidates At Harvard University Are Making Sure They Make A Statement

LinkedIn

With over 60 Black students, Harvard Law School’s class of 2021 is one of the largest class of Black J.D. candidates in the educational institution’s history. To showcase this excellence, the students created a photo-based social media campaign using the hashtag #BlackatHarvardLaw.
With this initiative, Black students in Harvard Law’s freshman class aim to mark their place on campus, while also encouraging the next generation of Black lawyers to fearlessly follow in their footsteps.

Co-organizers of the campaign Sarah Rutherford, Shane Fowler, Daniel Oyolu and Armani Madison sat down with Blavity to talk about the purpose of the campaign and their collective experiences as Black students while attending Harvard Law.

“This campaign is important because so many folks have invested in our success, and inspired and encouraged us to set our sights high. It’s important [that] we do the same for those who come after,” Oyolu told Blavity.

“There are 60-plus people that represent the African diaspora in the photo,” Rutherford said.

According to Rutherford, the campaign’s timing was strategically designed to align with the school’s annual event series for prospective and newly admitted students.
“This campaign was really important for us to launch ahead of Harvard Law’s two Admitted Students Weekends,” Rutherford explained. “We want this year’s admitted students and those who are considering applying to know that there is a supportive Black community at Harvard Law School.”

For the complete article, continue on to Blavity.

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