*The September 2017 jobs report is out, and the numbers are bleak: the U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time since September 2010. Fortunately, a number of professional organizations are stepping up to support black workers and leaders.
Organizations across the country are stepping up and focusing on providing more and more opportunities to African American students and workers.
Across the United States, roughly 75% of American workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck, 27% have no savings at all, and many more people are struggling to have enough money for food each day. There is no one overlying reason as to why so many Americans are struggling but it’s important that those in positions of power, whether it be political legislators, educators, or business owners, do whatever they can to help the less fortunate get on the right track in life.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why so many American workers are struggling financially is because they aren’t receiving adequate training. Whatever field an employee is in, they should receive both general and potential leadership training in order to prepare them for a successful career.
Luckily, there are organizations like the American Institute of Architects that are helping to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion within the U.S. job market.
Nearly 400 architects gathered in late September for the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit in hopes of advancing women’s pathways to leadership. This year’s sold-out conference was held in Washington, D.C., and was the fifth iteration of the summit. The Women’s Leadership Summit began by the Women’s Principals Group of the Boston Society of Architects a few years ago.
“This particular conference has been focused on skill building,” said Rosa Sheng, founding chair of Equity by Design and president-elect of AIA San Francisco’s board of directors. Sheng added that what differentiates the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit is its ability to “zoom in and to have that analysis happen, then to use that information to create change.”
Another leadership conference focusing on diversity was held across the country in September.
The California Legislative Black Caucus hosted the annual African-American Leaders of tomorrow (AALT) conference, a four-day program on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.
“Education is the critical foundation for learning, understanding and growth for African American youth in California,” said the Chris Holden, Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “The CLBC is proud to host the African American Leaders of Tomorrow Conference that provided these impressive students additional support as they pursue higher education and leadership roles in their community.”
Applications for next year’s conference are open to high school sophomores or juniors with a grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher. Students who are interested in careers in government or leadership in their communities are also encouraged to apply during spring of 2018.
These leadership conferences often promote the learning of soft skills, too. Soft skills are indicative of an employee’s ability to problem solve, which is one of the key attributes of a successful leader. Among the top 10 soft skills sought by employers, work ethic at 73%, dependability at 73%, positive attitude at 72%, self-motivation at 66%, team-orientation at 60%, and organization skills at 57%.
In addition to these soft skills, black workers can benefit from their own community involvement. In order to truly succeed as a business, where the company might sell or do, a local presence must be properly maintained. Researchers indicate that 85% of any company’s customers live or work within a five-mile radius of the business.
Oscile Kendrix, the president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, plans on helping members grow their businesses, grow their capital, and train future leaders.
“We would like to raise the cap from $35,000 to $150,000,” said Kendrix. “As we work to build the capacity of African-American owned businesses, their needs are going to increase, as well, so we will have to evolve to a higher cap to continue meeting the need.”
By both focusing on communities and training future leaders, businesses will likely see many more qualified, energetic, and ambitious African American leaders taking the helm.
“The change of generations, ethnicity and race impacts how the city functions, how it grows, [and] how it evolves,” added Denise Thomas, owner of The Effective Communication Coach, LLC.