Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Black Women's Roundtable Plans Katrina Anniversary Events

The following is from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s women’s initiative, Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR), which is planning a series of its own events in N.O. this coming week to commemorate the anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The group is also working in a broader coalition of organizations to promote a National Day of Presence on August 29, to call attention to the ongoing needs of the Gulf region 2 years after the storm.

The group has published a scheduled activities during the Second Anniversary of Katrina-Rita National Call to Action from August 27-29, 2007, and updated details may be posted there. We have additionally compiled their list events and actions with an extended schedule of Katrina events through September 1 on the blog of our sister site,

On the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina the National Coalition on Black Civic articipation’s women’s initiative, Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR), hosted a Gulf Coast Hear Me Now Listening Sessions Bus Tour of regions hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The seven-city tour set out to learn how women directly impacted by the storms were surviving one year after enduring the life-altering affects of Katrina and Rita. The tour revealed that the storms exacerbated the already fragile social and economic existence of many African American women in the Gulf Coast region in three of the most economically depressed states in the nation—Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

After listening to our sister’s voices about their experiences in the rebuilding process, the barriers they encountered and how they were affected by this natural disaster, the National Coalition was able to identify the most pressing issues thwarting recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region----affordable housing, education, and mental/physical health topped the list.

As we approach the second anniversary of the worst storm in America’s history, sluggish rebuilding efforts have increased despair, frustration, and stress among people already emotionally traumatized. The never-ending struggle to secure a sense of dignity and stability has aggravated the severe mental stress and physical health problems survivors of these storms are facing on a daily basis in rural and urban communities in the Gulf Coast and all across the country where displaced survivors are attempting to rebuild their lives.

In 2006 the women of Black Women’s Roundtable heard the voices of our beloved sisters in the Gulf Coast. Further, to build upon what we learned from our Gulf Coast recovery & rebuilding work and from the women of the gulf coast over the past year, NCBCP will utilize the Black Women’s Roundtable Healthy, Wealthy & Wise Initiative to assist the women of the Gulf with their civic engagement and provide vehicles for their voices to be heard by policy and opinion makers across the country.

NCBCP will incorporate the mission of BWR – to promote healthy families – as we return to New Orleans to commemorate the second anniversary of Katrina through our 2007 BWR Celebrate Our Sisters of the Gulf Coast Wellness Journey. The journey will include a full day focused on health and wellness through exercise, volunteerism, pampering, dialogue, entertainment, spiritual upliftment, recognition, and information gathering. NCBCP will host a regional organizing briefing and conduct a scientific survey/poll of survivors to evaluate their recovery/rebuilding experiences over the past year, document their stories of success and the barriers Katrina-Rita survivors continue to encounter as well as stand in solidarity with the people of the Gulf Coast for a national call to action on August 27-29, 2007 in New Orleans, LA.

The tentative schedule of events is here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Survey: Effects of a Dearth of Black Women in U.S. Companies

Survey Finds Low Numbers of Black Professional Women in Leadership Roles in U.S. Companies Affects Engagement and Retention

(BLACK PR WIRE) (August 20, 2007) CHICAGO - Because the lives of professional black women in America have been understudied and their contributions as leaders often undervalued, The League of Black Women (LBW) conducted its "LBW Having Our Say: Fostering the Leadership Potential of Black Women in America Survey" to help identify and eliminate the challenges black women face as they strive to fulfill their leadership potential and achieve socio-economic parity for themselves, their families and their communities.

The report includes an assessment of the key barriers to black women realizing their leadership potential; recommendations for how corporations can remove those barriers and support retention; and personal accounts of professional black women striving to rise to leadership positions despite the odds. The data found only 20 percent of black women are "very satisfied" with their overall lives, and respondents reported greater and more pervasive degrees of frustration with advancing in their careers.

"The League of Black Women is committed to supporting and developing leadership values and joyful living for the 21st century black woman," said Sandra Finley, president/CEO. "With this report we provide essential support and timely advice to corporations on specific methods and recommendations to recruit, retain and empower black women as leaders. By implementing our suggested strategies, we believe companies can improve their efforts toward achieving greater workforce diversity."

The nationwide survey, conducted between 2005 and 2007 in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton, was designed to gather preliminary data on black women's views about their leadership experiences and satisfaction with their lives. The report highlights three key findings identified as critical factors that influence the level of satisfaction black women obtain in their professional and personal lives. Among the factors are Engagement, defined as institutions and people that have the greatest impact on black women's lives; Cohesion, the quality of black women's relationships with each other; and Bicultural Leadership, used to describe circumstances in which black women lead or exude authority over non-blacks in the workplace. Some specific factors of Engagement, Cohesion and Bicultural Leadership that affect and hinder the overall professional development, advancement and retention of black women in the workplace include:

.Under-representation of black women within an organization diminishes essential networking power
.Pressure to hide authentic personal style and professional perspective results in exhaustion (affects productivity)
.Limited professional options that impede black women from having close relationships with each other in corporate environments
.Black women are more committed to their organizations when they are able to form close bonds with other black women
Bicultural Leadership
.Proven leadership ability doesn't reliably translate into promotion opportunities
.Underutilization of education and skill set relegates black women to lower-level jobs

Although black women report they hope to reach their goal of rising to leadership positions, they believe hard work and positive thinking are not enough to obtain the opportunities they seek. To ensure black women have the tools needed to advance, the report suggests corporations need to design distinctive and targeted strategies to develop and advance black women with high potential. Given the limited number of black women as contemporary role models, companies must understand the real time experiences of black women who aspire to obtain corporate leadership jobs and work to provide effective assistance. To combat and address these issues, The League of Black Women recommends corporate leaders promote the concepts of Engagement, Cohesion and Bicultural Leadership in the following ways to support development and retention:

.Foster a culture of inclusion that addresses the needs of black women as defined by black women
.Implement policies and practices that respect the need for communal support within and beyond the workplace
.Create coaching resources, mentoring programs, networking opportunities and affinity groups for women of color
.Appreciate cultural and style differences without censure
Bicultural Leadership
.Provide early leadership coaching to help black women successfully confront negative stereotypes
.Recognize and develop black women's distinctive leadership skills
.Identify and end business practices that steer black women with high potential into dead-end jobs

According to the study, black women still see negative perceptions about race as a barrier keeping them from reaching their career goals. As professionals, they believe that others' negative views of them in the workplace hinder their ability to excel in leadership roles. Nearly 80 percent surveyed cited race bias as a hurdle affecting their effectiveness as leaders, to some extent. Respondents said race bias affects interactions with individuals who potentially could influence and advance their career track. Additionally, the report suggests, black women find themselves stagnant in mid and lower level positions that are threatened by corporate downsizing, mergers and acquisitions that cause retention rates of black women to drop.

But despite the overlapping obstacles black women face on their climb up the corporate ladder, the League of Black Women believes if corporations empower black women, their strengths and leadership abilities can be leveraged to help increase company performance and expand business growth.

For more information on The League of Black Women and the "Fostering the Leadership Potential of Black Women in America Survey," please visit

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Minority Women's Health Summit: 8/23 - D.C.

Forwarded re: 2007 Minority Women's Health Summit

THEME: Women of Color: Addressing Disparities, Affirming Resilience, Developing Strategies for Success

You are cordially invited to participate in the 2007 Minority Women's Health Summit, Women of Color: Addressing Disparities, Affirming Resilience, and Developing Strategies for Success. The Summit will be held August 23-26, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.

Summit Goals: Build on the knowledge gained in the previous conferences and identify distinct health issues disproportionately impacting minority women so that programs can be improved; Highlight successful models of health promotion and prevention that can be replicated in the community. The 2007 Summit will accomplish these goals primarily through action-oriented, skills-building workshops, where the participant will be given tools, skills, or resources to better reach their target population. The workshop format is an important feature that will provide greater opportunities for collective group thinking and creative problem-solving.

Date: August 23-26, 2007
Location: Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Web site:

Space is limited to 500 participants. Register now and save your spot! If you have questions regarding the Summit, please contact Frances Ashe-Goins(202) 690-6373Aleisha Langhorne (202) 401-8325

Also of Interest: IMDiversity Healthcare Industry Readings & Careers Channel

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Perfect Girls, Starving Bodies

“If I'm not thinking about my body or calories, I'm probably sleeping or dead,” confesses a 14-year-old in Courtney E. Martin’s new book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters. Sound familiar? We’ll I’m running out to get my copy, especially since I’d found Martin’s wisdom so in tune with my own fear and loathing of Dan Kindlon’s Alpha Girls a few month's back as reported on the Women's Professional Village.

Kindlon spent precious time backslapping and patronizing successful, aggressive young women without seeing that his tale reveals how this "new paradigm" of women's lib has de-natured and de-sensitized our young. He likes the monsters we have created while Martin recoils in horror.

Of Perfect Girls, Publisher’s Weekly reports, “Beneath the high-achieving 'perfect girl' surface, seven million American girls and women suffer from an eating disorder; 90% of high school–aged girls think they are overweight," and calls stories from the author’s over 100 interviews “heartbreaking.”

You can check out the Women’s Professional Village lambaste of Alpha Girls and then Martin’s book. But, don’t run to Amazon. To date, they’re the only major bookseller who refuses to stop selling dog fighting manuals in the wake of the Michael Vick outrage.

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body
Free Press, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7432-8796-8)

Column: Now What? Embracing the "Real World" after College

Chaz Kyser
After a summer of housecleaning, the staff is pleased to spotlight one of several exciting new additions to THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Online and our company's extended network.

A new ongoing column housed at THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Online, Now What? Embracing the "Real World" after College, provides sound guidance on thriving in "the real world" for those making the transition from college to the workplace. The column is created by Chaz Kyser, editor, public speaker, journalism instructor at Langston University, and author of the book, Embracing the Real World: The Black Woman’s Guide to Life After College.

Although many of the articles are related to Ms. Kyser's interest in the college-to-work experiences of young African-American women in particular, the editors find that the insights and practical advice contained in the column are valuable and relevant to readers of all genders and backgrounds -- even those who may have been out of university and working for a while now. Some of Ms. Kyser's work will also be seen on in the coming year, as well as here on the blogs.

As always, we invite interested readers to leave a comment or question for Ms. Kyser, and we are particularly interested in having readers share thoughts about your own college-to-career transitions as we approach back to school season.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Report: Accounting Firms Face Significant Risk of Turnover by Women and Men of Color

IMDiversity recently published an announcement of a new report by, Report: Accounting Firms Face Significant Risk of Turnover by Women and Men of Color. The report is the first in a new series by Catalyst focusing on challenges surrounding the retention of people of color -- women and men -- in specific industries. The research organization has issued high profile reports in the past analyzing the participation of women in corporate roles, often parsing out differences in the career paths of and obstacles facing white women and women of color. The new series appears aimed at expanding the research focus to include males as well, while offering observations on strategies for diversity recruitment and retention, broadly defined.

In a Q&A, the researchers at Catalyst discussed the impetus behind the new series' approach, and some of the current study's findings...

Q: Why did Catalyst decide to do this study?
A: Previous Catalyst research documented differences in the experiences of white women and women of color and also highlighted top barriers to advancement for women of color in corporate settings. In addition, Catalyst’s 2006 Census revealed that women of color hold only 3.1 percent of Fortune 500 board seats. This 2007 research on retention of women and men of color provides context for Catalyst’s forthcoming series of large-scale studies on women of color in professional services firms.
Catalyst’s groundbreaking report series, Women of Color in Corporate Management, was the largest and most comprehensive examination of African-American women, Asian women, and Latinas in professional and managerial positions in the United States. Demand for this series remains high.

Q: Why is it particularly important to accounting and other professional services firms to invest in the retention of women and men of color?
A: The client service-centric nature of professional services firms renders the retention of talent particularly important for the accounting industry. Competition for top talent has always been fierce in the accounting industry. With changing client relationships, regulatory changes, and globalization, firms are faced with more work and longer hours. Firms cannot afford to train employees and then see many of their “best and brightest” leave to pursue other career options. Thus, if firms want to maintain a competitive advantage, it is imperative that they focus on retaining women and men of color.

Q: What are the key findings in this report?
A: This report shows that approximately 50% of women and men of color do not feel obligated to stay with their current firm.

-It is a matter of concern for accounting firms that between 37 and 50
percent of people of color surveyed harbor a general intent to leave.

-Women of color are more likely than men of color to leave for more
money and to do similar tasks at another firm.

-Nearly a third of women of color (29.1%) and nearly one-fifth of men of
color (17.3%) were at risk of leaving within the year during which the study was

-“Imperfect execution” still impedes full realization of a firm’s
commitment to support diversity and inclusion. Findings suggest that
although organizations make a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion,
often there are perceived disconnects between expressed commitment and actual
implementation of policies, programs, and initiatives.

Q: What types of factors cause employees to leave firms?
A: Factors that cause employees to leave their firms can be divided into two categories: “pull” and “push” factors. Pull factors arise from outside and include offers of high-paying jobs at other firms. Push factors arise from within the current employer and can include a perceived disconnect between a firm’s commitment to diversity and the execution of the practices that support that commitment. Whereas employers have little control over pull factors, firms can help retain their workforce by focusing on the push factors over which they have significant control.

Q: Did you find specific examples of these “push” factors that are causing people of color to leave their accounting firms?
A: One of the push factors this study identified was the “imperfect execution” of a firm’s commitment to diversity. Perceived gaps between diversity policy and practice are very much noticed by women and men of color. Those surveyed felt there is a perceived exclusionary environment and a lack of receptivity to outsider groups at large accounting firms, along with a lack of accountability when it comes to diversity policies. These examples show that diversity policies are not filtering down to racial and ethnic minority groups as effectively as they could.

Other push factors include a lack of access to informal networks, stereotyping, double-standards, and a lack of development opportunities. All of these push factors create an exclusionary work environment that make it challenging for women and men of color to advance.

Q: Why should organizations care about these factors? Can’t they just replace employees who leave?
A: There is a clear business case for retaining women and men of color. From an economic standpoint, when employees leave and replacements must be hired, recruiting costs, training time, and lower productivity associated with new employees are expected results. Research suggests that the cost of a professional or a manager leaving an organization can be as high as twice the average associate’s salary or a minimum of one year’s worth of salary and benefits. A diverse workforce also inherently brings to the table a diversity of thought and perspective that is extremely valuable in today’s global economy, particularly as the number of women and people of color entering the accounting industry continues to grow. In addition, as clients demand the expertise that comes with experience, firms can no longer afford to train their employees and watch them leave.

Q. What can organizations do to create an inclusive work environment that will reduce attrition and retain their top talent, including people of color?
A: To build awareness and more understanding regarding the experiences and perceptions of women and men of color, senior leaders, human resources and diversity professionals, and managers can follow these action steps:

Assess the work environment.
-Find out about your organization’s diversity strategy.
-Use internal surveys, focus groups, and interviews to document, by subgroup, the experiences and perceptions of women and men of color.
Self-assess: Examine your own opinions, assumptions, and behavior.
-How inclusive are you about socializing with staff members from different backgrounds?
-What priority do you give to institutional supports for staff members who are from backgrounds different from yours?
-Do your expectations for the performance of your staff who are of color vary from those
for your other staff?
-Do you ever make assumptions based on stereotypes?
Develop closer relationships with women and men of color.
-Learn their perspectives.
-Make an effort to ask women and men of color about their perspectives, backgrounds, and interests.
-Identify subgroups of women of color and men of color in your organization and go out of your way to learn about their unique experiences and challenges.
-Increase understanding of differences and similarities between groups and within groups, through education and informal dialogues, one-on-one and in groups.
-Encourage differences in behavioral and work styles.
Communicate and demonstrate your firm’s commitment to diversity.
-Use training programs, one-on-one mentoring with senior leaders, inclusion in high-visibility programs, and networking opportunities.
-Integrate diversity initiatives into routine organizational practices such as recruitment, orientation, training, career-development tools, and succession planning.
Hold managers accountable for the retention and advancement of women and men of color.
-Create clearly articulated plans for long-term development of women and men of color.
-Hold managers accountable for providing critical development opportunities and high-visibility assignments necessary for advancement.
-Review managers’ performance evaluations of subordinates by race/ethnicity and gender of subordinates.
About Catalyst
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit corporate membership research and advisory organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in New York, San Jose, Toronto, and Zug, and the support and confidence of more than 340 leading corporations, firms, business schools, and associations, Catalyst is connected to business and its changing needs and is the premier resource for information and data about women in the workplace. In addition, Catalyst honors exemplary business initiatives that promote women’s leadership with the annual Catalyst Award.