by Skip Spriggs, Pooja Jain-Link, and Julia Taylor Kennedy
Two decades ago, a powerful class of black men stepped up to the C-Suite. Then, progress halted. This momentum will only be regained when employers are ready to address the systemic challenges that face black men and women as they build their careers. Without robust data that specifies the needs of black men, employers will continue to stumble in the dark, falling back to “best guesses” instead of implementing targeted, transformative solutions. This article zeros in on the black male experience, drawn from the Center for Talent Innovation’s recent study in partnership with The Executive Leadership Council, of Black male and Black female professionals, Being Black in Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration. In this article, we share black male professionals’ ambition; the challenges they face as they forge their careers; why they frequently choose entrepreneurship over corporate careers; and we offer a roadmap for employers looking to retain and support Black colleagues.
Based on today’s rates of college degree completion for black students, which have stayed steady for the last decade, the Fortune 500 should have 50 Black CEOs. 2 Today, according to independent tracking from The Executive Leadership Council, there are still only four – and still all men.