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.

These are the 4 surprising lessons I learned when I started managing people for the first time

LinkedIn
woman manager leading a conversation at a conference table

By Rousseau Kazi

When I first moved into team management from product management, I quickly learned that managing people is very different than managing a product.

As it turns out, people are complicated.

I had the wrong expectations about what it would take to be a good manager, something I’m sure many people can relate to.

Becoming a manager for the first time requires a lot of trial and error, and no matter how diligently you prepare, mistakes are inevitable.

That being said, the following lessons have helped me navigate this transition, and I hope that they can help those who are undertaking their managerial journey for the first time.

Lesson one: Products don’t fail silently, people do

Mistaking silence for satisfaction is one of the most common mistakes new managers make. When you manage a product, there are alerts and other objective measures that notify you when something is wrong so you can fix it. People don’t come with warnings, and often, they’re suppressing their feelings.

As a new manager, it’s easy to assume that people will come to you when they have a problem, but chances are this won’t happen. Many find it intimidating to approach a new manager, so they avoid doing it altogether. The truth is, we’ve cultivated work environments where people are hesitant about speaking up. This might be because of fear stemming from a reaction. It might also be because they have been burned in the past.

Solution: Take the time to get to know your team

As a manager, you need to recognize that people will fail silently. It’s vital to make time to get to know your team so you can better sense when things may not be going well. Acknowledge that you’re probably bad at asking the right questions to really understand what’s going on, so make your intentions clear. Make it known that you don’t view “asking for help” as a weakness and all you want to do is help. Setting up simple processes/channels that enable your employees to reach out to you when they need your support is a great start.

Understanding that silence doesn’t mean success is in itself a step in the right direction. Next, get to know your team inside and out. Learn their habits, likes, dislikes, and pet peeves. As trust between you and your employees develops, they may start to be comfortable around you and may start to ask you directly for help and advice.

Lesson two: Products don’t have fear, people do

Something else that is disproportionately apparent in people versus products is emotion. To be even more specific, it’s fear. Fear drives so many things within us, and it’s common for many to relate negative emotions to something they’re afraid of. Work is no different—since so many people derive purpose from their role. Fear manifests in the workplace in many different ways. People don’t want to seem weak at work because they associate that with not excelling (even though we’re all afraid of something). As a result, fear commonly manifests as anger. When you’re angry, you can talk about what you’re scared of without seeming weak because you’re blaming it on something else. Products, on the other hand, don’t have this negative compounding effect built into them.

Solution: Remind yourself that everyone is afraid of something

Always keep in mind that everyone is likely afraid of some scenario. Try to understand what that is and then do whatever you can in your power to prevent it from happening. Get to know your team and what excites them. Aim to create safe spaces for them to open up so you can help prevent any future destructive behaviors.

Lesson three: Products don’t get lost in their emotions, people do

One thing that’s hard to come to terms with is understanding that as a manager, you have explicit power. Even if you understand that you have the privilege of helping facilitate people’s careers—it doesn’t stop you from being human. It doesn’t stop you from getting upset when someone on your team is upset with you, and it doesn’t stop you from having those same destructive tendencies that they have. The only difference is that when you do it, it’s worse. Your blast radius is so large that if you let yourself get lost in your emotions, you’ll never be the safety net that your team needs you to be.

Solution: Learn to let go of your ego

Keep in mind that if someone is upset, they’re probably just afraid of something. Every minute you waste defending your ego is a minute you’re not spending on getting to the root of their fear. The faster you get there, the quicker you can actually solve the problem.

Lesson four: Products don’t require you to earn their trust, people do

Just because you’re their manager doesn’t mean that people will respect or trust you. We’ve all had managers who we held to a very high standard. But the second you become one yourself, many of us forget that. Chances are, you have a lot more empathy with what managers go through now than what you did back then, and the longer you are in your role, the less you remember what it was like to not have explicit power.

Because of this, some people just assume that trust is implicit. They expect that their team will have their back and trust their decisions. As a result, they put in less thought when it comes to validating their choices, they don’t put in the extra effort to get to know their team, and they don’t go above and beyond to prove to their team that they are there to help. But respect doesn’t automatically come with a title change. It’s something that you need to earn. Your team, or report, will never reach their full potential if you don’t earn their trust first.

People are more complicated than products. Most managers know that in theory, yet are often in for a rude awakening when they start to encounter the realities of their new role. When a product fails, you can intellectualize it. When a person falls, the impact is significant and in many ways—it falls on you.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Interested in Owning a Food Franchise?

LinkedIn
black franchise owners standing in front of McDonalds

When it comes to deciding on the type of franchise business you want to own, consider several factors—the business location, how many people you’ll employ, and more.

And once you’ve decided on a franchise business you think you’d like to own and operate, you’ll have to weigh the positives and the negatives.

If you have decided on a food franchise, there are some unique considerations for this type of business.

 
 
The Positive Side of Food Franchise Ownership

  1. As long as you have a steady stream of customers patronizing your restaurant or food store, revenue tends to be pretty high.

Of course, it depends on the franchise, but when you think about it, it’s tough to buy breakfast or lunch for less than $8–$10 in most food-service establishments, with dinners usually costing even more. As long as you have a steady stream of customers patronizing your restaurant on a consistent basis, your revenue figures will be fine.

  1. New food-service establishments create a lot of local buzz.

Most people know when a new restaurant opens in town, especially if the grand opening is a memorable one.

When you buy a franchise, marketing assistance is included in the upfront and ongoing fees.

Good franchisors know how to put on a strong grand opening, and if yours goes well, you won’t have to wait long for customers to line up to try (and purchase) your food.

  1. Food-service is fast paced.

It’s quite an experience to own and operate a busy food-service business, especially when your take-out phones are ringing off the hook, people are waiting in line to order, and your cash register is overflowing with cash.

If you like working in a high-energy, fast-paced environment, you’re going to love owning a food franchise. Don’t count on there being a dull moment.

  1. Real estate assistance is provided.

Location can make or break the success of a food franchise. You want to have the best one possible. That’s where a franchisor with a good real estate expert is key. To be exact, immediately after your franchise agreement is signed, the real estate person at franchise headquarters gets to work.

She leverages her connections with the nation’s leading commercial real estate companies to help secure the best location possible for your new business. That alone gives you a huge advantage over an independent businessperson (without commercial real estate connections) who’s trying to secure a location for his restaurant.

The Negative Side of Food Franchise Ownership 

  1. Food franchises have high employee turnover

If you become the owner of a food franchise, plan on going through a lot of employees. Turnover rates in the hospitality industry hover at nearly 70 percent.

That means you’ll be spending a lot of time on employee training, new-hire paperwork, and shift filling. (Unless you have a manager who can do this for you.)

  1. Food franchises require a physical location

Having a location means a couple of things.

First of all, compared to an office-based or home-based franchise, your expenses go up, as you’ll be paying for things like the build-out, signage, rent, utilities, and more.

Second, you’ll have to sign a multi-year commercial lease. These leases tend to be complicated and are landlord friendly.

Tip: Before you sign a lease, hire an attorney to go over it with you. And make sure your attorney has a lot of experience with commercial leases.

  1. Food franchise ownership requires long hours

In addition to the long hours, food franchise owners need to have a lot of energy, especially during peak times, where you’ll have to pitch in when needed. Whether it’s cleaning tables, helping prepare the food, or manning the phones, you’ll be smack dab in the middle of the chaos that all busy food franchises experience.

Owning a food franchise can be a good way to go for someone who enjoys a busy, high-energy environment that includes a good number of employees.

Furthermore, if you can afford to own several units of a high-performing food franchise, your business can end up being quite lucrative.

Source: sba.gov

Biles caps 6th U.S. title with historic triple-double

LinkedIn
Simone Biles

Simone Biles won her sixth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, plus did a historic clean triple-double in floor exercise.

Biles, 22, did the triple-double in the preliminaries Friday in floor exercise, too, the first time a woman had ever completed the complex move of two flips with three twists in competition. But she put her hands down on the landing then, which frustrated her. She didn’t do that Sunday and was so happy with the move that she retweeted video of it during the competition.

“I didn’t want to be the last person to see it,” Biles said of checking her phone for the video, “so I went online to see what it looked like, so that me and [coach Laurent Landi] could watch it. But I was very pleased that I actually landed it this time in competition.”

Biles won the all-around title easily; her 118.500 was almost 5 full points ahead of second-place finisher Sunisa Lee at 113.550. Grace McCallum was third at 111.850. Biles has won 20 consecutive all-around titles dating back six years, including at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Sunday, Biles also won the titles in the vault (30.850), balance beam (29.650) and, of course, floor exercise (29.450), which she especially has elevated to must-see TV whenever she’s performing. And even in the event she calls her least favorite, uneven bars, she finished third (28.800).

Lee, a 16-year-old from Minnesota, won the bars with a score of 29.800 and was the only woman other than Biles to walk away with a gold medal from these championships. She acknowledged she watches all of Biles’ routines with a sense of awe.

Continue on to ESPN News to read the complete article.

Kamala Harris Proposes Plan To Invest $60 Billion In Historically Black Colleges

LinkedIn
Kamala Harris speaking at podium

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) rolled out two policy plans Friday morning aimed at closing the wealth gap for black Americans. Harris said in a press release that if elected president, she will invest $60 billion in historically black colleges and universities and $12 billion in black-owned businesses and entrepreneurship. She said she would also invest $2.5 billion in programs that train black teachers ― an addition to her March proposal to raise teachers’ salaries.

The presidential hopeful, a graduate of HBCU Howard University, described the proposal as “the next major planks in her Black agenda,” according to her campaign’s fact sheet.

Of the $60 billion she plans to invest in HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, Harris said she would put $10 billion toward school infrastructure to build classrooms, school labs and other facilities. The other $50 billion would be used to create a competitive fund at the Department of Education to support science, technology, engineering and math education at HBCUs. The competitive fund would go toward scholarships, fellowships and research.

The $12 billion policy proposal would be allocated to federal contracting programs that would help black business owners create businesses from the ground up.

“We can create a pipeline for ensuring that Black Americans are leading the research and entrepreneurship to grow our innovation economy and participate in the wealth it generates,” the campaign fact sheet states.

Continue on to the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Finally a black ‘Bachelor’? ABC’s president weighs in

LinkedIn
The Bachelor posted promoting the TV show

ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” reality shows continue to be ratings gold for the broadcast network. But critics say they don’t succeed when it comes to diversity.

Although attorney Rachel Lindsay became the first African American to lead either of these programs when she starred in the 13th season of “The Bachelorette” and soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis was “The Bachelor’s” first Latino lead when he starred in Season 18, there has never been a male African-American star of “The Bachelor” in its 23 seasons.

ABC president Karey Burke was asked about this controversy on Monday when she spoke to journalists at the network’s Television Critics Association press day in Beverly Hills.

“I can tell you, the conversations are ongoing about who the next Bachelor will be,” Burke replied. “I do think that the show has worked hard to increase diversity in casting. And, as that evolves, we’ll continue to see more diversity in the franchise.”

Later, Burke was also asked about the issues surrounding the recently completed chapter of “The Bachelorette.” That finale revealed that chosen suitor Jed Wyatt was already in a relationship when he began competing on the show.

Burke, who started her job at ABC in November, said that she’s still new to this process but that “I’ve been quite impressed by the production company [behind “The Bachelor”] and the show’s interest in continuing to improve and expand its vetting processes.”

“It’s an on-going journey,” she said. “Human behavior is mercurial and I think the show does as good a job as it can vetting contestants.”

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

From Wall Street to Your Street; Former Goldman Sachs VP Becomes Franchisee with # 1 Home Inspection Company

LinkedIn
Elton Andrews stans next to his work vehicle

“Wall Street was an amazing ride,” reflects former Goldman Sachs VP, Elton Andrews. Along with his 25-year run at Goldman Sachs, Andrews spent an impressive 32 years total in the financial sector. Facing possible retirement, Andrews took some time off to be with his family, but it wasn’t long before he began searching for a new project.

“I loved what I did for those 32 years and I experienced many areas of the business,” said Andrews. “From my beginning in operations, managing a trading desk, becoming involved in the development and growth of the electronic trading marketplace, I interacted with some of the most brilliant people in the industry. They really had an impact on my life! I was mentored by some of the best, and then I had opportunities to mentor others. That work/life experience was priceless, and will be with me in everything I do in the future.”

And that future is here. “I developed a very strong desire to start my own business,” he said. “I saw the Pillar To Post Home Inspectors model, and I was intrigued.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, they are enjoying their 19th year in a row on that list.

“I saw Pillar To Post Home Inspectors as a total change of direction, but in a market that still somewhat related to finance, so it seemed a natural fit for me,” Andrews explained. “In my previous career, attention to detail, people management, building the client experience, and the needs of the client were all part of my daily focus. I will manage my Pillar to Post Home Inspectors business with the same mindset and dedication.”

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500 ® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.  To inquire about a franchise go to pillartopostfranchise.com.

Introducing the First Ever Black Woman-Owned Rideshare Service for Kids

LinkedIn
owner of kiddie commute and the vehicle

You don’t have to be a parent to know that parenting is a full-time job with barely any breaks in between; and ensuring your child is well attended to is an around the clock task, even when they aren’t in your presence.

Shan Cureton, a mother of three, understands this all too well. She is the founder of Kiddie Commute, a full-service transportation company for kids located in the greater San Diego area; and the only Black woman-owned transportation company in the state. It is also the only comprehensive service that serves the needs of parents and caregivers, offering safety and reliability.

Launched in 2017, Kiddie Commute was created purely out of need. “I am a busy working mother. At the time, I worked and went to school full time. My youngest son was in Kindergarten, I had another son in middle school, and a daughter in high school. It was challenging picking up my youngest son from class in the middle of the day when I had to work or be in class.” Cureton says she didn’t have family available to help her with school pick-ups. “Adding to that stress, my oldest two were taking Lyft.

I was a nervous wreck as I watched the ticker on the app pick up my most precious assets and drop them off at home. I couldn’t focus because let’s face it, they were strangers. I had no peace of mind and assurance that the driver was safe.” Cureton did some research online and discovered that it was illegal for Lyft to transport minors alone. “Some drivers would anyway, and some would cancel the ride when they found out it was a child they were picking up. I searched online for a company that could solve my problem, there wasn’t a local one, and that’s when the light bulb went on. Kiddie Commute was born.”

Being a woman of color, Shan was ready to take on the challenges of creating and launching the company. Any hardships or frustrations that would come were worth it. “With the business and entrepreneurship being dominated by males, it’s sometimes challenging for your voice to be heard. When you can get a word in edgewise you are seen as domineering or too boisterous. This is very disheartening as running a tech company requires a tenacious leader that’s not afraid to step out on the balcony.”

Continue on to Black News to read the complete article.

The Rock visits protesters in Hawaii who oppose massive telescope being built on sacred mountain summit

LinkedIn
Dwayne The Rock Johnson talks with protester in Hawaii

Protesters who are demonstrating against a massive telescope being built in Hawaii have a big supporter in Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson.

Johnson made an appearance at the site of the protests Wednesday and told people there that he stands with them as they fight to prevent the Thirty Meter Telescope from being built on an area considered to be a sacred ground by some Native Hawaiians.

“This is such a critical moment and a pivotal time,” Johnson told the protesters. “Because the world is watching.”

Wednesday marked the 10th day of protests that have involved demonstrators blocking the road to the summit of Mauna Kea, where the state’s Supreme Court has approved a $1.4 billion telescope to be built.

Johnson, who is not of Hawaiian descent, spent part of his youth living in the state.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he wants to work with the protesters to find a common ground and avoid the community become divided. He is working on behalf of Hawaii Gov. David Ige.

Continue on to New York Daily News to read the complete article.

Ken Bouyer: Success in Inclusiveness

LinkedIn
Kenneth Bouyer-EY

By Brady Rhoades

As EY Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting, Ken Bouyer lives by a motto: “Lift as you climb.” But he has expectations of those he lifts, just as those who helped him had expectations. He poses this question to professionals who are looking to thrive in corporate America.

“How do you define success and what are you willing to ante up in order to achieve that level of success?”

The answer is different for everyone, he said to Black EOE Journal, but if teams pursue their purpose with commitment and a willing to sacrifice, the results can be startling.

“We’re incredibly committed to diversity and inclusion,” Bouyer said of EY, referring to the company’s stellar record of hiring and promoting women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. “And I get to be an insider on that and get a sense of the investments we make… I get a chance to see it year in and year out.”

“When you think about why diversity and inclusion matter, a big part of it is the diversity of thought and perspective,” he added.

Bouyer had plenty of “lifters” as he labored his way up the steep incline during his early career years in the 1990s (he remembers his hire date at EY on October 1, 1990).

He was a first-generation corporate professional.

“I didn’t know how I should act, what I should do.”

But he had help.

“The mentors and role models I had and being part of that as a young professional: invaluable,” he said.

His biggest lesson?

“Your brand is everything. How do you show up every day in your office? What’s your brand and reputation like?”

He said integrity is foundational to EY’s brand and most great brands across a variety of business models. Ever in lift-and-climb mode, he encourages others to build their brands.

He asks corporate managers an uncomfortable but important question: When you leave the room, what do your employees say about you? What kinds of words are used?

“People have to trust and rely on you, and integrity is a big, big part of that,” he said.

Looking back on his rookie year at EY, he remembers a different corporate culture in America.

“When I first started… there were no programs focused on diversity and inclusiveness,” he said.

He’s proud of how far EY has come in the past 29 years, where they’re going, and what it means for future generations.

“Our talented minorities have an opportunity to be so successful, and anything we can do to help raise awareness around the diversity and inclusiveness issue is going to make us better.”

Bouyer, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter, is responsible for developing and implementing a recruiting strategy that focuses on creating a diverse talent pool. Fostering an inclusive culture where all individuals can achieve their full potential is a global priority and a business imperative for EY. The organization strives to reflect the changes in world demographics—taking into account the new mix of cultures and individual characteristics that build its talent pool.

Bouyer also serves on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Minority Initiatives Committee and a number of other boards. He is a recipient of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy “Practitioner Service Award” for his distinguished service to the profession of accounting and accounting education.

Bouyer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Accountants.

Photo Credit: EY

From Con to Entrepreneur

LinkedIn
Mikey owner of Ice Cream shop stands outside in his uniform holding a thumbs up

Michael “Mikey” Cole owns the first, award-winning pop cultured-inspired ice cream shop with locations in New York’s Lower East Side and Harlem. But Mikey’s road to success wasn’t a smooth one. The entrepreneur pursued a degree in economics and business management, and served time in prison before founding Mikey Likes It Ice Cream.

It is almost impossible for an ex-con to get hired, but Mikey transformed his life, and as he is growing in his career, he is giving back to the community.

“And that’s what the business is about now,” he said to The Huffington Post. “You know, with the ice cream business, it’s not just about creating ice cream. It’s spreading the word—it’s about giving back to the community, to help the next generation so they don’t make the same choices I’ve made.”

The popular organic ice cream shop creates homemade artisan and all-natural ice cream, inspired by Mikey’s deceased aunt’s vanilla ice cream recipe. “I decided to continue on this ice cream journey with the love my aunt instilled in me,” he says.

Mikey has created custom ice cream flavors for people like Hillary Clinton and Jay-Z, among others, and has been featured in The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Essence, and New York Magazine.

A New York Native, Mikey knows what dessert lovers will enjoy in his hometown. His ice cream flavors have names that reflect American pop culture, including Foxy Brown and Nutty Professor. One of his offerings, Mikey’s Daddy Mac, was named one of the best ice cream sandwiches in New York City.

Mikey uses profits from the shop to cater youth events—free of charge—and provide scholarships for local students. “To give back is the most important thing for us,” he told The Huffington Post.

Sources: huffpost.com; Mikey Likes It

Using Their Platform for Reform

LinkedIn
STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES

Barack Obama Teaming up with NBA for Professional Basketball League in Africa

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced their plan to launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL)— a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa—and former President Barack Obama is reportedly going to be involved, according to The Associated Press. Obama recently tweeted, “I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court.”

BAL will be built on the foundation of current club competitions the FIBA is organizing in Africa. Scheduled to begin play in January 2020, BAL would mark the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

The NBA also recently announced its plan to introduce a re-imagined direct-to-consumer offering of NBA games for fans in Africa by the start of the 2019–20 NBA season. The offering would include new packages, features and localized content, with additional details to be announced at a later date.

The NBA and FIBA plan to conduct qualification tournaments later this year to identify the 12 teams that would represent several African countries, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, with no more than two teams from the same country able to qualify.

Platform for Reform-IMAGE SOURCE NBA

The two organizations also plan to dedicate financial support and resources toward the continued development of Africa’s basketball ecosystem, including training for players, coaches and referees, as well as infrastructure investment.

Source: pr.nba.com

 

Queen Latifah is Developing Affordable Housing in Newark

Platform for Reform-GILBERT CARRASQUILLO/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES

Queen Latifah, the Grammy award-winning musical artist, acclaimed television and film actress, label president, author, entrepreneur and now developer, is investing in a $14 million development of multi-family town homes as co-president of the Blue Sugar Corporation, alongside Gonsosa Development.

According to nj.com, rents for the market rate units will start around $1,800 a month and are expected to open by December 2020. The affordable housing building is expected to be finished in December 2021, and units there will be priced according to a person’s income.

The New Jersey-born native isn’t the first celebrity to break ground in Newark—former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal constructed a $79 million, 22-story apartment complex called Shaq Tower.

Source: nj.com

 

Jaden Smith Partners with Flint church to Provide Fresh Water

Platform for Reform-RODIN ECKENROTH/GETTY IMAGES

First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church spent a year working with Jaden Smith and his foundation JUST on a mobile filtration system called The Water Box that reduces lead and other potential contaminants. According to mlive.com, the box utilizes the same filtration system Smith’s bottled water company JUST Water uses.

The eco-friendly company was founded by Smith and his dad Will Smith in 2015. “While Jaden was surfing as a young kid, some plastic water bottles floated by him and he soon realized they were dirtying our oceans and killing the environment,” said Will. “He was immediately motivated to do something to save our planet; our future—and with that JUST Water was born.”

Source: mlive.com

9 Reasons Recognizing Companies and Employees Is Important

LinkedIn
two men shaking hands in the office

By Mona Lisa Faris

We all remember scientists Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner’s experiments famous for exploring the benefits of using rewards and positive associations to change both behavior and emotion. Lately, I’ve seen it to be true with companies as well.

Few corporate awards are as highly sought after or revered as a prestigious Best of the Best title. A company achieving recognition in this area values inclusion and has a hand on the heartbeat of diversity at all times. There are two ways to achieve this award, either by employee vote or by a third party strictly looking at numbers. In my opinion, independent third party HR auditing, such as filling out a survey, outweighs employee-based evaluations.

Nine reasons recognizing companies and employees is important:

1. Demonstrate You’re Doing Something Right
Business awards are important badges of honor to companies. The Best of the Best list is an opportunity to demonstrate to clients, employees, investors, customers, and the general public that yes, you’re doing something right, according to a third party and an objective panel of judges. Whether or not your company has had direct involvement with these awards, the results are an invaluable source of information. It gives you an edge above your competitors, too.

2. Diversity Matters
A company that makes it on a Best of the Best list believes in diversity and understands the importance of salaries, benefits, leadership, personal growth, and well-being, ultimately revealing what employees really care about in the workplace. Organizational cultures built on inclusion drive engagement, which drives business and financial performance.

3. Employee Retention
Recognizing a job well done affects employee retention. When employee morale receives a boost, employee retention is increased. When a company is rewarded, it’s encouraged to strive to stay on the Best of the Best list and do even better. It is not a good sign when a company makes it on the list for a year and then doesn’t make it the following year.

4. Better Job Performance
Recognition keeps employees feeling proud and passionate about their work. When employees are recognized, they are encouraged to perform better, and consistent recognition—especially when they’ve gone beyond the call of duty—will enhance their job performance. According to Great Place to Work, “Employees who say they have a great place to work were four times more likely to say they’re willing to give extra to get the job done.”

5. Attract Great Talent
Award-winning status can help you compete for great talent. Customers, prospective employees, and the community hold top workplaces in high regard. If you’re recognized as a Top Veteran-Friendly Company, for example, it encourages veterans to apply with less hesitation knowing you’re diverse and inclusive to the veteran community. You present the following message: “Welcome, veterans, we’re here to train you and support you.”

6. Media Exposure
Recognition as a Best of the Best company will keep your diversity message and branding alive all year long. Companies on the Best of the Best list performed two to three times better than their counterparts. Being awarded is a great opportunity to brag and put out public notices of achievement, such as a press release. It’s a great recognition to put on a website or use the Best of the Best logo to brand and market across the nation. Some companies go as far as putting the logo on their advertisements, marketing material, and at events and job fairs.

7. Compete by Advantage
With better performance comes stronger revenue. When you’re on that list, it means you’re diverse, which means you’re getting diverse perspectives, ultimately putting out the best product and service because of the different views you have within your company. With a recognition, you also have a wider consumer base, which gives you an advantage over non-diverse competitors. At the end of the day, every company wants to be recognized, but companies are also interested in what other companies in their industry are being recognized for.

8. Increase Innovation
Diversity drives innovation. It’s helpful for managers to establish a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas, implement feedback, and give credit where credit is due. Employees who are given an environment to speak freely, no matter what the feedback is, are more likely to contribute their culture, ethnicity, gender, and work experience to drive innovation. Companies that foster and implement diverse groups for feedback, such as an ERG, help define culturally sensitive products, services, and demographics, and these diverse groups bring the greatest innovation.

9. Increase Profits and Revenue
Recognition keeps employees satisfied, ultimately increasing revenue and profits. The bottom line is that we want our employees to be satisfied at work, because that is what influences company performance. Thus, diversity and inclusion are the keys to a company’s bottom line. As a publisher of six-diversity focused magazines, I know it’s imperative to recognize companies for their achievements in diversity, and we do this through an independent survey. Any company award is a positive marketing strategy. Just as with any survey, do your research. My advice is to never participate in a “pay to play” investment because it’s not an investment. Our reports are never “pay to play.”

By publishing these much-anticipated lists, my goal is to encourage those doing a good job to continue doing a great job, and for those who are not there yet, to entice them to join the bandwagon—to see what their competitors are doing and show the value. Companies that put diversity first, implement it in their policy, and practice it every day from the top down see the fruit of their labor and deserve praise.

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine