According to a recent report by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the workplace, African American women who are corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies represented 1.1% of the workforce in 2002. The report, Advancing African-American Women in the Workplace: What Managers Need to Know, also projected that black women will represent 7.0% of the total workforce by 2010 — an increase of 59.3% from 1990. As the study notes, black women “represent an important and growing source of talent,” so there is a strong business case for focusing on this group.
Molly D. Shepard is the founder and CEO of The Leader’s Edge, an organization focused on enhancing the effectiveness of executive women in senior positions. Teressa Moore Griffin is the president of executive coaching company Freeman Associates. They have partnered to form the Executive Program for Women of Color.
The Executive Program for Women of Color aims to provide African American women with the necessary leadership skills to advance at senior levels and has four phases. In the first phase, the participant is assessed in her present business environment. Particular attention is paid not just to her status but to how she is perceived in her organization as a leader and how her own ideas match those perceptions. In the second phase, participants take part in an off-site seminar with executive women at their same corporate level. They will discuss strategic networking, political awareness, communication and leadership skills, among other topics. Participants also perform business simulations that are videotaped. This allows them to study and get feedback on their actions and reactions. In the third phase, the participant, her appointed mentor, and her direct supervisor will design a professional development plan. And the fourth stage involves the participant applying and practicing the leadership lessons she’s learned to her work environment.
For more information, log on to www.the-leaders-edge.com, or contact Monica Warner at 610-660-6684.
Spelman College is set to host Embracing Our Differences, its second annual Women of Color: Leadership in the 21st Century conference. The Atlanta institution welcomes female professionals from the public and private sectors to discuss developmental opportunities for women via a variety of panel sessions, May 11–12, 2005. For more information, log on to www.spelmanwomenofcolorconf.com.