A Reflection on Black History Month: Living the Message
Are we doing the work to be better off than we were yesterday? It’s a question any forward-thinking entrepreneur often asks. If we’re staying flexible, seizing opportunities, and paying attention to market changes, we hope the answer will always be yes.
As a predominantly black owned business, we are always evaluating our contributions. Black History Month specifically reminds us to consider the following question from a different angle: Are we working for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion?
In this observance month, people often focus on the stories of legendary activists and movements from the past. Rosa Parks keeping her bus seat to fight against segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marching with thousands from Selma for voting protections, and the many others advocating for social rights all come to mind. Yet, a 1968 speech from Dr. King cautions against complacency:
“Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Continuing to build upon the progress these and other pathfinders made requires commitment from professionals as well as activists today, especially from a social and financial standpoint.
Pushing Forward with Social Progress
The saying that it’s hard to be what you cannot see is absolutely true. Though there will always be trailblazers who set precedents and disrupt paradigms, they’re the exception rather than the rule. Most young people need models to let them know what’s possible and realistic for their professional and personal goals.
Within this century, we’ve seen some substantial glass ceilings shatter for the Black community. Barack Obama’s presidency was historic, but even the last year has seen two other monumental examples. Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson, the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, was sworn in on June 20th, 2022, and in Michigan this year, Kyra Harris Bolden was sworn in as the first black woman in Michigan’s Supreme Court. It’s uplifting to see both men and women have models for success.
However, there is still unsteady progress from a DE&I perspective in STEM employment. The Pew Research Center shows Black, as well as Hispanic workers are underrepresented in a variety of STEM professions, especially IT and engineering. By this point, pioneers have provided roadmaps for success in both communities, but those who have found success should be willing and ready to extend a helping hand to the next generation coming up.
An opportunity we’ve seen where businesses and professionals can make an impact is to help aspiring STEM professionals cover the cost of college. In a partnership with the National Business League and the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, the w3r Consulting team made STEM scholarships possible for twenty students over a period of five years. We’ve continued that tradition, in addition to finding ways to use our own STEM education to mentor the future of the workforce in math and science.
Advocating for Wealth Generation
The wealth gap is another persistent challenge for progress. In one speech, Dr. King noted high unemployment in many Black communities is on par with the Depression while many white communities in the late 1960s flourished. That unfortunately hasn’t changed. The Brookings Institution shows this struggle remains stubbornly entrenched; the average wealth gap between a white American and a Black American is $251,000 in their late fifties.
There still is a calling for companies of all sizes and backgrounds to fight for wealth-building opportunities. It’s one of the reasons why we’re active with the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) and many other Diversity Councils. Their organization is committed to creating connections and advocating for socioeconomic equity and building generational wealth in communities of color. The National Business League does incredible work towards the economic empowerment of the black community through initiatives and partnerships.
Over the course of our 28 years in business, we’ve sought any chance possible to share the opportunities for success we’ve encountered.
For our clients with supplier diversity programs, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity and trust to use our network to connect exceptional vendors from the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) community and other underrepresented groups with organizations that need their drive, technical skillset, and distinct backgrounds. For young Black entrepreneurs, we’ve been rewarded with the chance to mentor incredible young talent, providing them with help on everything from creating realistic business plans and setting expectations to breaking down barriers and paying mentorship forward.
Whether working with businesses or professionals, the actions we all take now have an impact on economic empowerment and the prosperity of communities throughout our country. That’s why the w3r Consulting team will continue to do our part now and for as long as the world needs people to keep the wheel of progress turning.
Do you want to read more thoughts and perspectives from the w3r Consulting team? Are you looking to see how we’re making a difference? Take a look at our blog for the latest updates from our team.