Entrepreneur Launches Professional Development Program For Black Women Leaders
Laura Knights, Founder and CEO of Knights Consulting LLC, has launched the research-based Black Woman Leading® professional development program to address the unique needs of Black women leaders.
The program is a virtual learning experience to help mid-career Black women leaders strengthen leadership skills, share and process workplace experiences, and create action plans to meet professional goals.
The three core focus areas addressed in the program are 1) leadership and career development; 2) mental wellness and self-care; and 3) relationship management in the workplace. The program hosts two cohorts per year beginning in August and January.
With over 18 years of experience developing personal and professional development programs, Knights compared her insights from coaching Black women leaders with research detailing their negative workplace experiences and was inspired to create the program. Prior to starting her consulting firm, she served as the only African American woman in senior leadership in a university setting, so she was familiar with the unique isolation that many female leaders face.
Recent research documents this experience well. The State of Black Women in Corporate America report indicates that Black women are having the worst experience of all at work (Lean In, McKinsey & Company 2020), as they are often underpaid, underrepresented in leadership roles, and experience more discrimination. Likewise, the Black Women Thriving Report (Every Level Leadership, 2022) indicated that 88% of Black women report having experienced burnout as a result of unclear job expectations, negative workplace environments, lack of opportunities for advancement, and bad relationships with their managers.
Despite these obstacles, the research indicates that women of color are still motivated to seek higher leadership roles in their organizations. “The data clearly supports the need for unique responses to address the unique needs of women like myself in the workplace. Black Woman Leading® was launched as a timely response to address these issues,” said Knights. Unlike other programs, this one addresses both the professional development and mental wellness components needed to support Black women’s holistic growth.
“Despite negative experiences, our participants still want to grow and develop. But, they want to be honest about the experience they are having when strategizing their next career moves. This concept was created to provide a safe space for our participants to center their experiences as they learn, heal, and grow in their leadership capacity,” said Knights.
As an extension of the program, Knights has also launched a podcast, also called Black Woman Leading, to amplify these conversations that address the holistic needs of women leaders in the workplace who fit this demographic. The brand will host its first in-person retreat called Black Woman Leading LIVE! in May 2023 in Clearwater Beach, FL.
Learn more about the program:
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Listen to the podcast:
Black Woman Leading® is a research-backed virtual small group learning for mid-career women leaders and managers. The program includes a number of components including completion of a customized leadership development plan with supporting relationship management strategy, individual coaching sessions, group learning sessions, masterminding, a DISC leadership assessment and debrief report, community connection events, access to a vault of on-demand mini-trainings to support learning, and a ticket to an in-person retreat. The parent company of the program is Knights Consulting LLC.