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For some Black people, corporate America is a dream for most of us who have goals in the industry and want to infiltrate and make our dreams, voices and names heard. As a Black person, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business major, you’re going to get a reality check about the landscape of people who look like you versus those who don’t. Even looking at our own campus and having classes in the Business and Public Management Center where you’re likely to be one of two or three (this could apply to most academic halls here as well) Black people in your class makes you wonder.
As a Black person with goals of wanting to be in corporate America, is it possible to have a seat at the table? Well, it is. Things are changing, and you’re part of the generation that’s going to push corporate America to be even more diverse than it already is. In fact, “The Wall Street Journal’s” Joseph De Avila reports, “Racial and ethnic minorities now hold 20% of all board seats at the nation’s largest public companies for the first time, according to a new study.”
Black people have experienced some of the biggest gains, according to ISS Corporate Solutions Inc., an analytics firm that provides corporate governance data to companies and a unit of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., “Black directors now hold 8.3% of all board seats, up from 4.4% four years ago.”
Board members are known to have a lot of power in companies and in corporate America in general. For Black people to begin to gain a percentage of board seats is certainly a start, but more progress is required. Like I mentioned before, a lot of Black people are infiltrating corporate America through entrepreneurship. Back in 2022, Sharon Lurye of “U.S. News” reported on the growth of self-employed Black people. She writes, “Just over 1.2 million African Americans were self-employed in February 2022, compared to slightly under 1.1 million in February 2020. Another study from the website domain company GoDaddy found that ‘Black owners have accounted for 26% of all websites created for new businesses since the pandemic began, compared to 15% before… The gains are greater than what other demographic groups have seen: According to Fairlie’s analysis of the census data, the number of black small-business owners was 28% higher in the third quarter of 2021 than it was pre-pandemic…”.
It’s important during Black History Month to highlight the achievements of Black people, especially the accomplishments and growth they have made these last couple of years. Corporate America is a notorious industry for how closed off it is to a lot of diversity, not just race. But Black people in corporate America will soon no longer have to force companies to hire and acknowledge them through laws, regulations and outrage.
If a business degree or being an entrepreneur is not for you, but you still want to contribute to the effort to increase diversity in corporate America, then support Black businesses and assist anyone you know who is navigating through corporate America in any way you know how.
Isaiah Ireland is a second-year Media and Culture major with a minor in Digital Marketing. II978280@wcupa.edu.