Despite gains in education and employment opportunities since the civil rights era, Black professionals show a significant underrepresentation in leadership advancement and wealth generation.
A Society for Human Resources Management survey recently revealed that Black professionals hold only 3.2 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles and less than one percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions.
Jerome Hutchinson Jr. and Denise Kaigler, two African American entrepreneurs, hope to change the equation dramatically, founding Black Professionals Month (BPM), a strategic initiative to ignite the change they believe African Americans need.
“Since 2007, my companies have connected Black professionals to key relationships, information and opportunities to enhance their career success,” stated Hutchinson, the chief servant officer and founder of ICABA World Network, the world’s leading community-enhancing online network for Black professionals and entrepreneurs.
“By recognizing and convening Black professionals annually, we hope to enhance efforts to increase leadership roles and sustain wealth-building for Black professionals,” Hutchinson stated.
An award-winning digital marketer, career coach and brand and communications strategist, Kaigler called her association with Black Professionals Month a no-brainer.
Kaigler, the founder of MDK Brand Management and author of “Forty Dollars and a Brand: How to Overcome Challenges, Defy the Odds and Live Your Awesomeness,” researched the troubling statistics and immersed herself into Black Professionals Month.
“I was seeing one particular statistic that showed that Black people occupy 3-to-5-percent of all senior and executive-level roles,” Kaigler said. “All of the talk, energy and investments made in diversity, equity and inclusion programs in corporate America are having little impact. The gap hasn’t closed at all in the past five-to-10-years, so something must be done. Black Professionals Month is an opportunity to help Black Americans increase our presence around the world.”
On Friday, Oct. 1, an unprecedented 31 days of virtual programs, events and recognition kicked off to help ignite the leadership advancement of Black professionals.
Hutchinson and Kaigler have dedicated the month to build solid collaborations, enhance leadership and secure and sustain greater wealth for Black professionals globally.
Visitors can participate in interactive BPM “mainstream” to “top tier” career advancement workshops that focus on personal branding, leadership development and career pathing.
Discussions will center on issues affecting Black professionals in the workplace and organizers plan to help honor diversity leaders during the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference and Awards.
Hutchinson and Kaigler said attendees will be able to network with company leaders during BPM “Industry Spotlights” and learn about and explore potential career opportunities across select industries.
They also can attend subject-matter expert events to “deepen the understanding of critical areas that can impact the growth and advancement of Black professionals.”
“As a Black woman and former C-suite executive, I am deeply passionate about developing programs that can help Black professionals overcome challenges and reach their career goals,” Kaigler insisted.
Over the past 12 years, Hutchinson noted that he’d built a network of more than 13,000 Black professionals and entrepreneurs.
“We are looking to be that one-stop-shop, if you will, for Black professionals who want to connect, collaborate and build a trusted community,” Hutchinson said. “We didn’t want this as a one-off. We wanted something sustainable. I shared my ideas with [Kaigler] and this is not going to stop. It’s really a movement.”
The cost to register to attend Black Professionals Month ranges from $49 for a day pass to $99 for the leader package. An executive package, which includes an entire month of access to programs and events, costs $199.
To learn more, to attend or to become a sponsor, go to www.BlackProfessionalsMonth.com.