How the first disabled and woman-owned NYSE floor broker is changing Wall Street

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Cynthia DiBartolo (c), rings the bell during the NYSE closing auction on July 8, 2021.

By AJ Horch, CNBC

Cynthia DiBartolo’s journey to the New York Stock Exchange floor was fraught with challenges and difficulty.

In July 2021, DiBartolo’s firm, Tigress Financial Partners, became the first disabled and woman-owned floor broker to become a member of the NYSE.

Floor brokers are members of firms who execute trades on the exchange floor on behalf of the firm’s clients. They are physically present on the trading floor and are active during the New York Stock Exchange opening and closing auctions.

Tigress Financial Partners has been co-manager or selling group member on more than 620 IPO and secondary transactions with an aggregate market value of over $321 billion, including for companies such as​ Warner Music, Monday.com, and Airbnb.

In mid-2020, Wall Street banks, which are predominately run by white men, came under intense pressure to improve diversity following the Black Lives Matter protests.

Companies vowed to improve their practices via philanthropic programs, diverse hiring practices, and internships for underprivileged candidates. DiBartolo crafted a diversity questionnaire to make it easier for companies selling stock or issuing debt to find and vet minority and women-owned firms. American Airlines has already adopted the survey, and JPMorgan has begun to create a database to help automate the process.

Prior to launching Tigress Financial in 2011, DiBartolo served as a compliance director, an attorney, and as a risk management director for some of Wall Streets’ largest firms. However, her life would change in 2009 with a diagnosis of throat and neck cancer.

DiBartolo became severely disabled following life-saving surgery that compromised her ability to eat, speak and swallow. Through reconstructive surgery, DiBartolo was able to regain her ability to speak, but can only do so several hours a day.

Cancer not only took DiBartolo’s voice but also her career, as she recalled in an interview with CNBC’s Bob Pisani. “You see, there was no place for an attorney, risk management director, compliance director who couldn’t speak,” she said.

During her recovery, DiBartolo began to understand just how marginalized people in the disabled community were. “During the time I didn’t have the ability to speak, I realized how marginalized I was not just in financial services, but in society,” she said.

Inspiration from her father convinced her that she needed to act; “They took your tongue, not your brain.” her father told her. Using her experience from decades on Wall Street and tenacity DiBartolo launched the first and nation’s only disabled and woman-owned financial services firm.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

10 Women Scientists Leading the Fight Against the Climate Crisis
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Rose Mutiso speaks at TEDSummit: A Community Beyond Borders. July 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED | Flickr/TED Conference

By Tshiamo Mobe, Global Citizen

Climate change is an issue that affects everyone on the planet but women and girls are the ones suffering its effects the most. Why? Because women and girls have less access to quality education and later, job opportunities. These structural disadvantages keep them in poverty. In fact, women make up 70% of the world’s poor. In a nutshell, climate change impacts the poor the most and the poor are mostly women.

Poverty driven by and made worse by climate change also makes girls more susceptible to child marriage, because it drives hunger and girls getting married often means one less mouth to feed for their parents. Climate change also leads to geopolitical instability which, in turn, results in greater instances of violence — which we know disproportionately impacts women and girls.

Ironically, saving the planet has been made to seem a “women’s job”. This phenomenon, dubbed the “eco gender gap”, sees the burden of climate responsibility placed squarely on women’s shoulders through “green” campaigns and products that are overwhelmingly marketed to women.

There are several hypotheses for why this is. Firstly, women are the more powerful consumers (they drive 70-80% of all purchasing decisions). Secondly, they are disproportionately responsible, still, for the domestic sphere. And finally, going green is seen as a women’s job because women’s personalities are supposedly more nurturing and socially responsible.

Women should be involved in fighting the climate crisis at every level — from the kitchen to the science lab to the boardroom. Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained it best when she said: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” However, women are underrepresented in the science field (including climate science), with just 30% of research positions held by women and fewer still holding senior positions. The Reuters Hot List of 1,000 scientists features just 122 women.

Having more women climate scientists could allow for an increased emphasis on understanding and providing solutions for some of the most far-reaching implications of climate change. Diversity in background and experiences allows for different perspectives. More perspectives allow for different research questions to arise or even a different approach to the same question.

There are, however, women all over the world in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that have made some incredible strides in the fight against the climate crisis, from fire-resistant coating to protect places prone to wildfires, to a water-storing park for a region usually overwhelmed by floods. Here are just some of the world’s incredible women scientists leading the way on tackling the climate crisis.

Click here to read the full article on Global Citizen.

The 10 Best STEM Schools  
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a teacher sits with student going over paperwork together

As 2023 has arrived, you may be looking to take the next big step in your STEM education journey. While specific needs will differ from person to person, knowing which schools are the best for a STEM education can be a great start.

Here are the top STEM schools of the last year:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, most popularly referred to as MIT, is a private land-grant research university. The school is best known for its key role in the development of modern technology and science.

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Average Tuition: $74,500 without grants, $21,100 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Notable Alumni: Apollo 11 Astronaut: Buzz Aldrin; Economics Nobel laureate: Esther Duflo; CEO of General Motors: Alfred P. Sloan

Georgia Institute of Technology: The Georgia Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Georgia Tech, is a public research university and institute of technology. Their specialty is in science and technology, but they are additionally recognized as an elite institution for computer science, engineering and business.

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Average Tuition: $30,600 without grants, $18,400 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 21%
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Notable Alumni: President Jimmy Carter; Nobel Prize in Chemistry Winner: Kary Mullis; CEO of Earthlink: Charles “Garry” Betty

California Institute of Technology: The California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, is a private research university known for its specialties in science and engineering. Caltech is ranked among the best academic institutions in the world and is among the most selective in the U.S.

  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Average Tuition: $79,900 without grants, $28,100 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Notable Alumni: Father of Silicon Valley: William Shockley; Co-founder of JPL: Qian Xuesen; Director of NSF: France A. Córdova

Harvey Mudd College: Harvey Mudd College is an American private college in Claremont, California focused on science and engineering. The school produces graduates who earn the highest mid-career salaries of any college or university in the country.

  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Average Tuition: $81,800 without grants, $39,300 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Notable Alumni: Co-inventor of SQL: Donald D. Chamberlain; Former US Ambassador to Israel: Richard H. Jones; Esports commentator and game designer: Sean “Day9” Plott

Stanford University: Stanford University is a private research university and one of the top-ranking universities in the world. Though they have many specialties, they are known for their graduate programs in law, medicine, education and business.

  • Location: Stanford, California
  • Average Tuition: $80,400 without grants, $21,100 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 4%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Notable Alumni: President John F. Kennedy; Astronaut Mae Jemison; Co-creator of the internet: Vint Cerf

University of California, Berkeley: A founding member of the Association of American Universities, UC Berkeley is a public land-grant research university. As one of the top universities in the country, Berkley hosts many leading research institutes dedicated to science, engineering and mathematics.

  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • Average Tuition: $42,700 without grants, $20,400 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 16%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Notable Alumni: Co-founder of Apple Computer: Steve Wozniak; Astronaut Leroy Chiao; Nobel laureate in Physics and former Secretary of Energy: Steven Chu

University of California, San Diego: UC San Diego is a public land-grant research university specializing in medicine and oceanography. The school is home to the region’s only academic health system, UC San Diego Health.

  • Location: La Jolla, California
  • Average Tuition: $36,300 without grants, $16,100 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 31%
  • Graduation Rate: 86%
  • Notable Alumni: Philanthropist and GoPro Founder: Nick Woodman; Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine: Susumu Tonegawa; Professor and Political Activist: Angela Davis

Texas A&M University-College Station: Texas A&M is a public land-grant research university and senior military college. They are home to one of the largest student bodies in the United States and hold simultaneous designations as a land, sea and space grant institution.

  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • Average Tuition: $32,300 without grants, $21,000 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 58%
  • Graduation Rate: 82%
  • Notable Alumni: Former US Secretary of Energy: Ricky Perry; Mechanical engineer and first woman to be chief flight director at NASA: Holly Ridings; CEO of U.S. Wal-Mart Stores: Eduardo Castro-Wright

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, or UIUC for short, is a public land-grant research university. Besides producing several Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, UIUC is home to the second-largest university library in the country and the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. They are also home to Research Park, an innovation center for some of the biggest start-ups and corporations in the country.

  • Location: Champaign, Illinois
  • Average Tuition: $32,000 without grants, $14,300 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 59%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Notable Alumni: Double Nobel prize winner in Physics: John Bardeen; Paypal Creator: Max Levchin; YouTube Founders: Steve Chen and Jawed Karim

University of Michigan: The University of Michigan is a public research university consisting of nineteen colleges and degrees in 250 disciplines. They specialize in architecture and urban planning, business, medicine, law, public policy, pharmacy, social work, public health and dentistry. The school has produced over 250 high-level government officials such as senators, cabinet secretaries and governors.

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Average Tuition: $32,000 without grants, $14,300 with grants
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Notable Alumni: Former United States Secretary of Agriculture: Julius Sterling Morton; Boeing co-founder: Edgar Nathaniel Gott; Founder of the Swarm Corporation and “Father of Artificial Life”: Chris Langton

Sources: Money.com, College Avenue Student Loans, Wikipedia

Taking on Diversity in Tech with Daleele Alison
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Daleele Allison headshot

Daleele Alison likes to help others stop wasting time doing tasks that don’t provide direct value to their clients. He is a technology professional, entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of RooksDM, a technology consulting group that helps alleviate pain points for small to midsize companies by using the right technology. Alison has worked as a consultant, business analyst and project manager for Fortune 500 companies to SMBs.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) spoke with Alison about his company, the role diversity plays in tech and more on his participation in NMSDC’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs cohort.

DISM: What have you seen businesses struggle with the most when it comes to their technology? How does RooksDM help them? 

Daleele Alison: From our perspective, businesses are excited about adopting new technology. However, when businesses rapidly implement new technology to fix a singular problem, this often becomes a band-aid solution and can lead to a different set of challenges. Many businesses end up with a large number of tech tools that become overwhelming to manage and lead to low user adoption. It’s important for businesses to take a step back and be strategic. At RooksDM, we ask the right questions about technology and processes and dig deep into the core pain points. Rather than simply throwing technology at a problem, we take a holistic approach. Our goal is to implement technology that works together and sets a foundation for scalable growth.

DISM: Do you feel there is diversity within the IT/tech sectors? Why or why not? 

Alison: We have seen progress in diversity within the tech industry. Organizations with targeted initiatives to increase diversity have definitely started to move the needle. It’s exciting to see a shift in the industry, however, there is still a long way to go. It continues to be a challenge for diverse vendors to break into large enterprise corporations. I’m hopeful that through tracking and monitoring vendor diversity, we will see even greater progress in supporting minorities in tech.

DISM: Why was it important for you to participate in NMSDC’s (National Minority Supplier Development Council) Emerging Young Entrepreneurs cohort? What have you learned thus far that is applicable to your own business? 

Alison: The NMSDC’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs has been an important way for us to learn and network. Through this initiative, we have been able to connect with like-minded colleagues, which has led to advice and potential business growth. The sessions have been invaluable and have expanded my thoughts around marketing, finance and strategy. We are truly grateful to be a part of this community and are looking forward to more opportunities in the future.

DISM: How has being MBE certified through NMSDC leveraged your business’s success? 

Alison: Being MBE certified through NMSDC has given RooksDM access to a much larger community of like-minded businesses. We now have exposure to larger organizations to build our business. We have also built relationships with fellow minority-owned businesses. It has been so valuable to learn from each other and share stories and resources that support business growth. We are also proud to share our certification with current and prospective clients. This certification provides us with additional credibility that supports our conversations with potential clients.

DISM: What advice would you give another minority-owned entrepreneur or business owner just getting started?

Alison: My advice to fellow minority owners is to be intentional about how you spend your time. It’s easy to focus on initiatives that don’t matter or that won’t make an impact. It is critical to have the right people in your network to lean on so you can spend your time where it matters most. For us, spending time building relationships has been a game changer, not just in nurturing prospects but also in strengthening relationships within our industry. Leaning on others in the industry for support and expertise has not only led to referrals but been helpful to our overall growth.

Photo credit: Tori Soper Photography

The Hottest STEM Jobs of 2023
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Female architects discussing ideas for the new project

As 2022 comes to a close and the New Years’ resolutions start to flow, you may have “Pursue a New Career” as one of your 2023 goals.

The STEM field is growing now more than ever with jobs in every sector of science, technology, engineering, arts and design and mathematics. Here are the top jobs in the STEM field going into the new year:

Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems and software. They are usually responsible for designing and operating medical equipment and devices such as artificial organs, prosthetic limbs and diagnostic technology. The bioengineering field is one of the highest “in-demand” jobs currently. They are currently estimated to grow at about 10 percent, a much higher rate than average.

  • Education: Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, biomedical engineering or a related engineering field. Some positions require a graduate degree.
  • Top States of Employment: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas
  • Average Pay: $97,410 per year

Physicists

Physicists study the interactions of matter and energy. Theoretical physicists and (including astronomers) may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. They typically work on research teams to conduct research and experiments about the natural world, but they also work to design and create lasers, telescopes and other scientific equipment that will aid them in their research. Not only are jobs in this field in high demand, growing at about 8 percent, but are one of the highest paid jobs in the STEM field today.

  • Education: Physicists and astronomers typically need a Ph.D. for jobs in research and academia. However, physicist jobs in the federal government typically require a bachelor’s degree in physics.
  • Top States of Employment: California, Colorado, Maryland, New York and Virginia
  • Average Pay: $147,450 per year

Computer and Research Information Scientists

Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine etc. and have a profound knowledge in programming, complex algorithms and robotics. Many of their day-to-day tasks consist of research, computer work, team collaboration and experimentation. Jobs are growing at a little over four times the normal rate compared to average, with a whopping 21 percent increase.

  • Education: Computer and information research scientists typically need a master’s or higher degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering. For federal government jobs, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for certain positions.
  • Top States of Employment: California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Washington
  • Average Pay: $131, 490 per year

Software Developers

Software developers create the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks and the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. They typically work with cliental to assess the company’s current programming and computer systems and work to create systems that are more efficient and helpful to their needs. They can also be responsible for the creation, development and functionality of computer programs and systems. Software development is a rapidly growing industry with a 25 percent outlook.

  • Education: Software developers typically only need a bachelor’s degree to work in the field.
  • Top States of Employment: California, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington
  • Average Pay: $109, 020 per year

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan, maintaining software, monitoring networks and fixing potential and confirmed program threats. They must also keep up to date on the latest news and developments surrounding the tech field. IT Analysts are one of the fastest growing fields in the STEM field at 35 percent.

  • Education: Information security analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, along with related work experience. Employers may prefer to hire analysts who have professional certification.
  • Top States of Employment: Florida, Maryland, New York, Texas and Virginia
  • Average Pay: $102, 600 per year

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, NBC

The NMSDC Equity Honors 2023–Applications Now Open
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gold cup winner on bokeh background, 3D illustration

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Equity Honors awards are presented to corporate chief officers who have been recognized by their peers as the true leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration.

Submit an application for your CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CDO, and CPO of the Year. All applications* must be started** by Dec. 20 to be considered.

Submit Application Here!

*Qualified applications submitted for The Equity Honors in 2022 have been cloned for consideration for the 2023 Equity Honors. Simply log into the NMSDC Awards Portal and update your application, then submit. Previous winners of The Equity Honors are ineligible to apply again for a minimum of 3 years.

**We will reopen the applications in March of 2023 to collect 2022 comparative data that will complete the application. All applications that have been started by Dec. 20 will constitute The Equity Honors Nominees for 2023 with nominees highlighted on the Forum website and invited to the 2023 Minority Business Economic Forum.

For more information about NMSDC visit, nmsdc.org

How 4 engineers and culture champions are growing their careers at Bloomberg
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Businesswoman at desk checking phone with tech graphs in background

Bloomberg Engineering’s culture champions innovation. This is made possible by the different perspectives of our 6,000+ software engineers around the globe, who come from diverse backgrounds and geographies and who possess a variety of technology specialties.

Meet four of Bloomberg’s software engineers – all of whom are active members of the Bloomberg Black in Tech Community across our New York, San Francisco and London engineering teams – and see how they’ve been empowered to impact our business globally.

 

Our conversations with them cover their paths to and work at Bloomberg, how they’ve grown professionally, their impact in technology, the importance of an inclusive workplace, and their efforts to attract more diversity to tech. Interviews were edited for length and clarity.

Lerena Holloway is a Software Engineer at Bloomberg's New York office.
Lerena Holloway is a Software Engineer at Bloomberg’s New York office.

Lerena Holloway

TITLE: Software Engineer
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York

How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now?
I lived abroad for 5 years, during which time I taught English in South Korea for 3½ years. I then served in the U.S. Navy for 4 years, after which I felt the urge to embrace my technical talents. This career change turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

While finishing my MBA, I decided to apply to the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, one of the country’s top-ranked coding bootcamps. This decision was the beginning of my path to Bloomberg, which I was drawn to for its philanthropic programs, the eclectic and dynamic nature of the Bloomberg Terminal, and the opportunity to be immersed in a culture of strong, talented software engineers.

I’m currently in the training program for new engineers. Prior to starting my training, I had the privilege of pre-training on the Commodities team, where I worked on building a map UI in React and Node.js and integrating it with a remote procedure call framework. I really enjoyed the learning process in discovering how to merge open source technologies with proprietary technologies.

Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
One of my mentors is Erik Anderson, the software engineer who helped created MAPS<GO> and many of Bloomberg’s chart functions. Erik has helped me a great deal in building my confidence to tackle things outside my comfort zone. He really has helped me see that I was capable of more than I thought and encouraged me along the way, which really made me more driven to put in the long hours of practice and study that it takes to get to Bloomberg.

What do you love most about working in tech?
I really enjoy the way it has evolved over the years and how it continues to change so rapidly. Working in technology forces me to continue learning and embrace my status as a ‘forever’ student. The moment we get too comfortable in this industry is the moment we are in danger of falling behind. There are so many advances and new technologies that, even after just one year, the older versions are quickly out-of-date. What I love most is that it is an industry that never gets too comfortable; it is about constantly improving the product and making applications faster and more efficient. The associated mental challenges and continuous learning excite me the most!

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
Entering a male-dominated industry doesn’t come without trepidation. Knowing that people come equipped with certain biases that they themselves may not even be aware of plays a role; it is just the way we have all been socially-programmed by the media, our parents, and our communities. The tech industry is challenging by itself and people of color may have to face a few additional challenges, dealing with variations of micro-inequities, and the burden of not contributing to certain stereotypes. However, what I enjoy the most are the raised awareness and open discussions seeking to address these imbalances. It really shows how we, as a human species, are evolving our consciousness around these issues.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
Diversity and inclusion are crucial to the strength of any great organization. In order for technology to serve a wider range of users, understanding their needs and wants is very important. With the advent of globalization, this type of understanding can only be reached by increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

I also enjoy sharing my experiences traveling and living abroad with my co-workers. It highlights the importance of travel as a way to break down barriers in understanding different cultures, which I believe is a pivotal step towards this objective. I am also a member of many different communities here at Bloomberg, so as not to limit the definition of myself to one particular ethnicity or background, but to expand my sense of self in order to represent the many different cultural experiences I’ve had and those I’ve adopted along the way.

Deji Akinyemi is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg's New York office.
Deji Akinyemi is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg’s New York office.

Deji Akinyemi

TITLE: Senior Software Engineer
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York

How did you get to Bloomberg?
I was an industry hire out of a Bloomberg recruiting event in Seattle, where I met the engineers who would eventually be my managers. They were great and provided an amazing vision of the technical challenges and company culture at Bloomberg.

What do you work on now?
I am presently working on designing and building out the underlying platform that supports Bloomberg’s Asset Investment Management (AIM) compliance workflows.

Did you have any mentors to guide your career along the way?
Most definitely! I was fortunate to have an awesome mentor when I first started at Bloomberg. He was one of those engineers whose code nuances and expressiveness are like revelations. I learned a lot about my team and Bloomberg’s culture just by contributing to his code. I was also fortunate to have supportive managers who accommodated my desire to be challenged. They were able to provide interesting, tangible and business-critical projects to broaden my scope and contributions.

What do you love most about working in tech?
It has been said that engineers are the gatekeepers for civilization. Being in tech is like a calling. The work one does has a direct impact on the well-being of others. It gets more interesting when your work pushes the boundaries of what is considered possible. When this happens, there is no greater feeling than creating something new. Then you realize that, in some small way, you’ve (hopefully) helped make the world just a bit better than before.

Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
Machine learning, especially around the areas of natural language processing and understanding. The best technologies are those that feel so completely natural and intuitive that you may forget that you are interacting with a machine. Ironically, it is extremely difficult to create such a system. Applications of ML have the powerful potential to change the way we all interact with technology, if not the very nature of the machines we use.

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
There are very few of us in the tech industry. This truism begs us to ask why, as demographics don’t support this reality, as 10% of all college graduates and computer science majors are people of color. It’s sometimes hard not to feel excluded when there are very few people who look like you in the places that you are or want to be. There is often a significant effort required to go from ‘person of color,’ to ‘person,’ to ‘extremely capable person’ in the minds of others that people of other backgrounds do not face.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important?
Antifragility is a term coined by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb that describes systems that thrive in the face of volatility, shock or adversity. It represents the next step beyond robustness and resilience. I believe that, by their very nature, antifragile systems are diverse. Events that could take down a monoculture are often integrated and used for the greater good by an antifragile system. Diversity and inclusion promote antifragility by fostering teams that are tolerant, supportive, engaging and dynamic.

How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
I am one of the co-founders of the Bloomberg Black In Tech (BBIT) Community, which is composed of individuals in technology roles across Bloomberg – in engineering, product management, data science, etc. BBIT’s singular goal is to make Bloomberg the best place for minorities in tech across the industry. We host regular events to foster professional and personal development and create a fun, safe space. We work very hard to engage, support and empower the community at large through mentoring, recruiting, and outreach events on college campuses and at tech conferences with significant minority representation.

Akin Mousse is a BQuant Specialist for the Desktop Build Group in Bloomberg's San Francisco office.
Akin Mousse is a BQuant Specialist for the Desktop Build Group in Bloomberg’s San Francisco office.

Akin Mousse

TITLE: BQuant Specialist, Desktop Build Group
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: San Francisco

How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now?
I spent the first five years of my career at leading French banks where, among other things, I designed and implemented technology to automate processes on trading floors. Bloomberg found me on LinkedIn and recruited me to our London office in 2013. I’ve now worked in our San Francisco office for five years.

I’m currently a BQuant Specialist in our Desktop Build Group. In this role, I educate our clients’ quantitative financial researchers, analysts, and data scientists to leverage BQuant, our interactive data analysis and quantitative research platform and new Bloomberg Query Language (BQL). To do this, I first have to understand our clients’ workflows and determine how and where our quant research solutions can help them derive value. Often, we can help clients reduce the amount of time and manual labor spent reviewing financial statements. We can incorporate probability and statistics that help clients make faster and more accurate decisions on their financial strategies. Many times, I create the specifications, design a custom application for a team of about 20-50 users, test the app, and implement it at the client site. Finally, I help train users to program in Python in order to leverage BQuant.

Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
It has been challenging finding a Black professional mentor. David Mitchell, a team leader for our market specialists, has been a huge inspiration for me. We both started our careers in finance and moved to tech, so I feel like we have much in common. I appreciate how he reaches out periodically to check in on me. I admire his leadership of Bloomberg’s Black Professional Community and am really impressed by his career trajectory and the network he has built. It’s really important to see a person of color in a senior position because it makes that rank seem attainable for the rest of us.

Sandra Lee, who works in Bloomberg’s Product Oversight Office, has also been an influential mentor since we first met in 2016. She’s been with Bloomberg for more than 20 years, and she has helped me understand Bloomberg’s culture and navigate internal networks. I often use her as a sounding board to help me articulate my vision and get a second opinion. On a personal level, she shows me the value of work-life balance.

What do you love most about working in tech?
I love being in a position where I’m learning something. Technology is perpetually evolving, and you always need to be on your toes to remain competitive. I will often think about a complex engineering challenge that I am trying to solve, and will have a candid conversation with a colleague or I will read an article, and then a solution will emerge. I then implement it and it is so satisfying when it works. I also like that tech has tangible results.

Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
I am really excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). I love the idea that technology can show us patterns that humans cannot otherwise see because we cannot scrape through large volumes of data as quickly. From there, we can extract specific insights that influence our decision-making.

My interest in AI and ML led me to complete a graduate-level certificate program at the University of San Francisco. While I’m not using these skills in my current role, I’m excited that Bloomberg is doing cutting-edge work in natural language processing and other areas related to ML and AI. I’ve also joined Bloomberg’s Machine Learning Guild so I can stay connected to this technology; otherwise, it is hard to stay on top of it when you don’t apply it on a daily basis.

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
One word: R-E-P-R-E-S-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N! We need to see peers and leaders who are people of color. When I don’t see people of color in leadership positions, I feel like it’s less possible to attain success. When I see Black leaders, I get a lot of motivation and affirmation that it could be me one day.

In my experience, people of color aren’t taken as seriously by their peers unless there are other people of color in leadership positions. I personally feel like I need to be better than anyone else in whatever I’m doing. I don’t want to give any opening for the quality of my work to be questioned. For that reason, I often spend extra time double-checking my work in order to make everything is perfect. No one asks me to do this, but I feel I must. This adds a dimension of extra stress because that workflow is not scalable or sustainable and can lead to burnout.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
Life is so much more fulfilling when you can interact with people from different backgrounds and ways of life. At work, a diverse team can help prevent tunnel vision when solving challenges or meeting client needs. Everyone comes with baggage and biases that sometimes makes communication uncomfortable, but this ultimately leads to rich learning experiences.

I’m always trying to recruit and advocate for more underrepresented minority candidates, because we are only likely to stay at Bloomberg if we continue seeing more diversity on our teams.

Jonathan “JC” Charlery is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg's London office.
Jonathan “JC” Charlery is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg’s London office.

Jonathan “JC” Charlery

TITLE: Senior Software Engineer
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: London

How did you get to Bloomberg?
I was on my way to interview with a different company during the career fair at Howard University, when I ran into Kerry Joseph, an engineer who was recruiting for Bloomberg. We got to chatting about the company and he invited me to an info session later that night. What struck me was how down-to-earth and genuine he was. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything; he just talked about his own experiences at the company and how the job allowed him to grow.

In talking about his own background, we discovered we were from neighbouring islands in the Caribbean so we shared a cultural background. Having that conversation, and seeing and hearing someone like me at Bloomberg who had such a positive experience is what really sold me on the company.

What do you work on now?
I’m on the Local Development team in London, which is part of our Developer Experience (DevX) group. Our team creates and supports the tools and workflows that allow engineers to develop and test their applications locally on their laptops using whatever tools they prefer, instead of relying on a limited shared environment.

Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
Zac Rider, who leads our Real-time Distribution Platform engineering team, and Becky Plummer, a software engineering team leader in DevX (and my current manager) are two of the most influential managers I’ve had during my tenure at Bloomberg. They’ve provided me with many opportunities for growth and helped me build up my confidence in my own abilities. They were instrumental in putting my career on its current trajectory.

Femi Popoola, a technical team lead in London, has also been an amazing mentor to me. We’ve spoken about many different topics related to personal and technical growth, like knowing which opportunities are right for you and how to manage them, to understanding when you’re ready to take on a new challenge (hint: you’re never going to be “ready,” but don’t let that stop you).

What do you love most about working in tech?
I love the rate at which everything changes in the tech industry, and the ease of being able to get involved.

The tech industry evolves so quickly that you’ll miss it if you blink. In the last 20 years or so, we’ve gone from having one dedicated phone line per family and maybe having a computer for the household to us all having a computer in our pockets and everyone having a phone. All the information this puts at our fingertips has made it much easier for anyone to become involved and even to transfer into tech-related fields from any profession.

Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
Docker and container technologies are particularly interesting to me. The ability to simulate an entire environment and have repeatable declarative processes have really changed the way we think about development, testing, and stability of our systems.

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
Without seeing other people who look like them or can stand as a role model for them, people of colour tend to get discouraged from entering the tech industry. It is hard to continue being self-motivated or to believe you can achieve something if all the stereotypical icons don’t represent you in any way. It’s why Kerry stood out to me so much. He was West Indian and able to succeed in the tech industry. This isn’t spoken about often, but it creates a real psychological barrier for many people. Being able to connect with someone who shares your heritage or cultural background, and being able to see yourself in that person, are some of the greatest motivating factors.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important?
Diversity and inclusion are very important as they provide different perspectives. Having someone who can see something in a different manner and who brings their own background and experiences can help elicit a new style of thinking and new direction when it is needed the most. When all options have seemingly been exhausted, something which may seem intrinsically basic to someone can actually be just what is needed to get things moving again.

How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
I’ve spoken at events aimed at promoting and highlighting diversity and inclusion, as well as been a representative, speaker and mentor at both internal and external events aimed at empowering underprivileged youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM and grow their networks. This includes serving as a mentor to both university students and secondary school students.

I have been an advocate for and given advice about different ways to recruit effectively at select Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) across the U.S. I’ve also attended university career fairs where I directly engage with students, serving not only as a company point of contact for them, but also sharing my experiences with them. I talk to new hires about my career progression and serve as a mentor to help them navigate the company’s culture.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

Women Leaders at Bloomberg From Around the World Share Their Career Experiences
LinkedIn
collage of professional women

With offices around the world, Bloomberg provides its employees with opportunities to hone their skills and expertise, progress to new roles, take on stretch assignments, and gain valuable insights through their work.


Below, a few of our female leaders share their career experiences, including working in different offices, experiencing new cultures, building support networks, and their advice on how to progress, professionally and personally.

 

Rieko Tada

Pictured top left
Data training & development
Dubai

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at multiple offices in different business units and meet amazing colleagues and managers who support me. Most pivotal was probably the move from the Tokyo office to New York as a team leader. The office and business size, language, and lifestyle are so different. I had to learn and adapt. Managers and colleagues in New York welcomed and helped me; colleagues in Tokyo connected me to their networks so that I could build new relationships with people in the US office.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

Always be curious. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you can build connections with and learn from. This year, I’ve taken on a new role, joining the Data Training and Development team in Dubai. When I was in Japan, I never imagined living in Dubai, but new opportunities always come up, as long as we are inquisitive and never stop learning.

We work on purpose. Come find yours.

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Yinka Ibukun

Pictured top middle
West Africa bureau chief
Accra, Ghana

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

Seeking out feedback. Most people find it difficult to give candid feedback, so it helps to show that you’re open to it. Also, training your ear to sift out emotions and other distractions and extracting information you can actually use will help you become a better professional, and person. Both my best managers and closest friends have been people who give helpful feedback. I think that’s a gift.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

I definitely have my community: people who I trust to have my back and who can rely on me to do the same. That comes from investing in relationships over time. So, when you make a strong connection with someone, don’t take that for granted. Build your community.

Andrea Jaramillo

Bureau chief
Pictured top right
Bogota, Colombia

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

I can’t stress enough how important teamwork is in what we do. Throughout my years at Bloomberg, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing people across different countries and cultures. With each role, you develop new skills and learn from those around you. So even when things feel difficult and challenging, just know you’ll come out stronger on the other side!

What piece of advice would you give to others?

Be open to taking on new challenges. Bloomberg is an exciting place to work, one where you know you can’t get too comfortable in one spot because things change and you might find yourself taking on a different role, or one in a different office, country or continent. In an ever-moving world, we constantly need to reinvent ourselves and learn along the way.

Carolina Millan

Pictured bottom left
Bureau chief
Buenos Aires, Argentina

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

I started as an intern in 2015 in New York and in September of that year I moved to Argentina to cover markets, first with a focus on bonds, and later dedicating more time to publicly-traded companies. Since 2019, I’ve overseen Bloomberg’s coverage of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, managing a team of six talented journalists who routinely break news on the biggest stories in the country.

When I look back to things that helped me advance in my career, I think about the importance of being open to new projects and opportunities and putting my hand up to participate. Bloomberg is a very fast-paced environment, where priorities and internal structures change every few years, and it’s important to be flexible and find ways to contribute to the latest projects. In my case, that has meant everything from jumping to cover regional conferences, moderating panel events, doing live radio and TV hits for Bloomberg shows, developing local Spanish-language coverage, and delving into new key coverage areas, like start-ups.

I also feel grateful to my managers and mentors, who encouraged me to get involved with projects beyond my comfort zone, take on different responsibilities, and consider the jump into a management role.

Merry Zhang

Pictured bottom left
Head of China Market Specialists
Shanghai

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

Not shying away from challenges. In my career, I’ve needed to face gaps and problems beyond my primary responsibilities many times. And, while I might not be the expert to solve a problem, I never shy away from it. As long as a challenge is crucial to the business, I always speak up, take full ownership, and move forward to solve it.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

See changes as opportunities. At Bloomberg, changes happen daily. Market, product, even team structure are constantly evolving.  I have seen people react negatively to changes, but the ones who can turn changes into opportunities are always rewarded at the end.

Alyssa McDonald

Pictured bottom middle
Executive editor, Bloomberg News
Sydney

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

A mixture of good luck and hard work. I’m very fortunate to have had supportive bosses throughout my career, who have repeatedly encouraged me to take on new and bigger projects (and helped me find ways to get them done).

For my part, I’ve tried to repay that good will by saying yes to opportunities when they’re offered and then being diligent about getting those things done.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

When you’re looking to change something about your job – whether it’s a new role or a move to a different bureau, you should think about what’s in it for your manager. Or the person you want to be your next manager. The more you can explain how they’ll benefit by giving you what you want, the more likely you are to get it.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

Women break ceilings and conventions in the workplace and beyond
LinkedIn
Motion blurred shot of two business people talking through modern office hallway. People walking in office entrance hall.

Open, candid conversations about diversity and inclusion in our society and workplace must continue in order to support the fight for equality. Thankfully, these conversations continue to take place across Bloomberg, in various forms and forums.

One of the goals of these exchanges is to explore different facets of identity and experience from the first-hand perspectives of employees across the firm.

In this edition, we delve into the lived experiences of our colleagues as they have persisted in breaking glass ceilings and bucking conventions, and shows us how we can best support progress for women in the workplace.

Nayla Razzouk, Dubai

“Bring a new perspective, don’t try to blend in, embrace your differences. Learn something new every day. And most of all, be productive.”

Nayla Razzouk
Nayla with the UK Royal Marines while covering the Iraq War in 2003

Nayla grew up during the civil war in Lebanon, and naturally ended up covering these conflicts across the Middle East. She joined Bloomberg in 2010 to cover Iraq and energy/OPEC news, and recently took on the role of Managing Editor for the Middle East and North Africa.

In what way have you broken glass ceilings or conventions? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Working as a journalist can have its challenges as a woman, and there are additional challenges in this part of the world, where the circles of power are dominated by men. Often, you’re the only woman in the room or at the front, so it can be intimidating and even dangerous. I’ve encountered situations where people I wanted to interview would try to intimidate me because I was a woman. Some wouldn’t speak to women – I once asked my driver to act as a go-between while I stood behind a door. It can only build character, and this has helped me acquire the confidence to say that I will always find a way to do my job — even more so today, in my new challenge as the first woman to lead the MENA region.

What strengths do you believe your identity and experiences bring to your professional and personal life?

Having grown up and worked in tough environments has helped me acquire assertiveness and an ability to tolerate stress in a calm manner, while showing empathy to others. These traits and experiences were very valuable in leading our teams through COVID-19, making sure everyone is safe, continues to perform well, and knows that they can count on us in uncertain times.

Stephanie Flanders, London

“Though a proud feminist, I would still hesitate to describe any particular attitude or experience as uniquely female.”

Stephanie Flanders

Stephanie has been both an economist and an economic journalist — she joined Bloomberg in 2017 and now does both, leading Bloomberg Economics and following a lifelong passion to demystify the global economy for a wider audience.

In what way have you broken glass ceilings or conventions? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

When I became the BBC’s Economics Editor, I was the first woman to occupy a specialist editor job. Happily, there have been plenty more since then, and in general I would say that economics has become a little less male-dominated over the course of my career. In a previous role, I was aware that I was paid much less than several male colleagues in similar roles. That’s a challenge I failed to overcome, but overall I don’t feel I have been held back by my gender. If anything, it has given me an edge — it’s striking how many of the major global banks now have female chief economists.

What advice do you have for future convention- and ceiling-breakers?

When you’re making a case for yourself, don’t start with the skills you don’t have. I thought it was just an outdated stereotype until I started interviewing women and men for jobs. So many women really do lead with the stuff they can’t do. It’s extraordinary. 

Vandna Dawar Ramchandani, Singapore

“Understand and accept that every person and situation is different, so be empathetic and encouraging, and build trust so women feel empowered to share and take risks.”

Vandna Ramchandani

Vandna was born and raised in India. She joined Bloomberg in 1997 as a Terminal Sales rep, while living in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is now leading Corporate Philanthropy for APAC.

In what way have you broken glass ceilings or conventions? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

In Asia, particularly in India, a woman’s role is primarily expected to be that of a home-maker. I was committed to growing my career — even after having a family — taking on additional responsibility and relocating. When I first took on the roles of APAC Global Data Manager and then Singapore Office Committee chair, the first female in those roles, I did feel nervous about the step up, but there is so much support at Bloomberg, women just need to believe in themselves and lean in.

The biggest challenge is creating a balance that works for you, and often managing your guilt as a mum. There are no shortcuts so you start to run your life through “to-do” lists and constantly prioritize. My social life and personal time became secondary; my work and family were the priority. I wanted to live the life I dreamed of for my daughter and “walk the talk.”

What strengths do you believe your identity and experiences bring to your professional and personal life?

Authenticity, drive, hard work, empathy, and the desire to constantly challenge the status quo! Multi-tasking is not a choice, so you just become good at it. You learn to problem-solve and be creative, which lends itself wonderfully to a career at Bloomberg. 

Nita Ditele-Bourgeois, New York

“Take risks and embrace failures. Be determined, never settle, and let your skills speak for themselves; not your gender.”

Nita Ditele Bourgeois

Originally from the South, Nita was raised in New York at the heart of a family that fostered continuous learning. She joined Bloomberg in 2007 as a Legal Negotiations Specialist, and is now a Product Operations manager in Enterprise Data.

In what way have you broken glass ceilings or conventions? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Last year, after 13 years in Legal, I joined Enterprise Data. I saw an opportunity to leverage transferable skills, challenge myself, and grow. I wanted to be part of an exciting journey with the business from a different vantage point.

After encountering gender stereotypes and micro-aggressions throughout my career, I’ve found that the confidence and determination instilled at young age provided me the resilience and fortitude to address challenges head-on.

What strengths do you believe your identity and experiences bring to your professional and personal life?

Active listening has made the biggest impact. It takes time and intentionality, but the outcomes are enormous: positive engagement, sharing ideas, productivity, and stronger communication between individuals.

Celine Shi, Shanghai

“My experience has really been about breaking ceilings in my own mind.”

Celine Shi

A native of Sichuan, China, Celine joined Bloomberg Analytics in 2011 in Singapore before taking on the challenge of expanding team coverage in Beijing. She now manages buy-side product specialists in Shanghai.

In what way have you broken glass ceilings or conventions? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Early in my career, I didn’t want to draw attention to my sexual orientation, as I truly believe it has no relevance to how well someone performs at work. I kept my identity as a queer woman to myself, even though Bloomberg has been very supportive and open about our LGBTQ community. I later realized that this secret impacted how comfortable I was with colleagues and friends — I wasn’t being myself. I came out in 2017 and was able to fully embrace my friendships and work relationships, which helped me become more confident and perform better.

What advice do you have for future convention- and ceiling-breakers?

Do not set your own glass ceiling. Many of the women I know feel less confident about opportunities and question themselves: Am I really qualified for this? Do I have what it takes? We should be more confident in the different values and experiences we bring, and give ourselves a chance to be seen.

Deanna Hallett, London

“Seek out individuals and groups of people who will support you, lift you up, challenge you, and affirm your identity and your goals — no one can reach that glass ceiling alone.”

Deanna Hallett

Deanna interned for Bloomberg twice before joining full-time after graduating university in 2019. She currently works in UK government and regulatory relations and is the co-lead for the LGBTQ+ and Ally Community in EMEA.

In what ways have you broken glass ceilings or conventions?

I was the first woman in my family to apply to university, the first to run for local councillor, the first to move abroad, and the first woman to come out as LGBT+ in my family. I faced a lot of challenges growing up, including poverty, and psychological and physical abuse from my father, which was particularly acute when I came out as gay. More broadly, I grew up in an environment where I was just expected to manage, have kids, and then become a full-time mum. It was difficult pursuing my own goals and independence when it didn’t marry the view of what my family expected.

What can our colleagues and communities to do become better allies to women in the workforce?

Actively listen. It’s only by taking into consideration people’s experiences that we can ensure the glass ceiling is shattered for all women — particularly LGBT+ women and women of colour, who are too often left behind.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

The Latinx Community’s Growing Influence
LinkedIn
Latina reading magazine

The United States is currently experiencing a massive demographic shift, led in large part by the nation’s Latinx population. This group is growing rapidly, quickly becoming the most culturally and economically influential community in the country.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the country’s Hispanic or Latinx population grew from 50.5 million in 2010 (16.3% of the U.S. population)  to 62.1 million in 2020 (18.7%). That’s an increase of 23 percent. In fact, slightly more than half (51.1%) of the total U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020 came from growth in the country’s Latinx population.

It is no surprise then, that Latinx people have a massive effect on the U.S. economy. Their buying power is expected to reach $1.9 trillion by 2023, according to a report from Nielsen. This is up from $213 billion in 1990, marking an over 200% growth rate, more than double the growth in buying power of non-Latinx consumers.

This community’s economic influence reaches all industries, and it is critical that businesses gain a deeper understanding of Latinx culture. Doing so will allow business leadership to both better support employees and more effectively appeal to customers.

Understanding the Hypercultural Latinx individual

Among young Latinx people, there has been a rise in what is known as the “Hypercultural Latinx.”

Hypercultural Latinx people are often first-generation Americans who straddle both U.S. culture and their parents’ native Hispanic cultures. This group feels deeply connected to both aspects of their identities and has, in a sense, created their own blended, hybrid culture. As Ilse Calderon, an investor at OVO Fund, wrote on TechCrunch, a Hypercultural Latinx person is “100% Hispanic and 100% American.”

So, what do they want to buy? While Latinx people are clearly not a monolith, there are a few key trends across the community. According to research in the PwC Consumer

Intelligence Series, the Latinx population is especially enticed by new tech products. They are active on TikTok and exceedingly more likely to use WhatsApp and other social media platforms than other groups.

Nielsen also found that 45% of Latinx consumers buy from brands whose social values and causes align with theirs. This is 17% higher than the general population. Latinx people also share strong family values, as well as pride in their distinct cultural heritages. That is why organizations must engage the Latinx community and invite Latinx people to share their experiences.

It is pivotal that business leaders understand that “Latinx” is not a single streamlined culture. Rather, it is a diverse mix of traditions, nationalities, and values.

Embracing these cultural nuances is a key to understanding Latinx audiences. Organizations must consider methods to appeal to distinct Latinx groups, rather than marketing to the group as a whole.

Cultivating and advancing Latinx talent in the workplace

It isn’t only consumers that businesses should be thinking about. Latinx talent has also accounted for a massive 75% of U.S. labor force growth over the past six years, according to Nielsen. Nevertheless, only 3.8% of executive positions are held by Latinx men, and only 1.5% of are held by Latinx women.

Clearly, companies have a lot of work to do to attract and cultivate Latinx talent—and it all starts with recruitment. To ensure a diverse work force, companies must utilize culturally competent recruitment strategies that not only make new positions appealing to a variety of job seekers, but also give every applicant a fair chance.

According to an article in Hispanic Executive, understanding cultural differences can help recruiters create job descriptions that more effectively appeal to different communities. For example, the Latinx community feels a more communal sense of identity, compared to the more individualistic sense of identity in European-American culture. Recruiters should keep this in mind when thinking about what necessary skills they are highlighting for available roles.

Click here to read the complete article on Bloomberg.

Black Wealth Transfer and Confronting the Racial Wealth Gap
LinkedIn
man with money in pocket

The second installment of Bloomberg’s Power of Difference series on Black wealth offered a deep dive into issues that impact intergenerational Black wealth transfer. The three part series, hosted by Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeks to highlight and encourage dialogue about the structures that aid in Black wealth accumulation and extraction.

Speakers discussed why wealth transfer remains pivotal to building wealth in the United States and explained how the historical lack of opportunity for Black families to preserve and pass on wealth has contributed to the prevalence of racial wealth inequality today.

 

Inherited wealth plays a pivotal role in advancing the economic launch point for future generations. Despite the pervasiveness of the American rags to riches story, the wealthiest families have certainly benefited from this capital infusion power–about 30% of the Forbes 400 inherited at least $50 million. Middle and working-class families can use transferred capital and assets to boost emergency savings, make down payments on homes, pay tuition for private schools and higher education, and invest in the financial markets or new entrepreneurship.

Black families, however, are five times less likely than white families to receive a sizable inheritance. When they do, the amount is still typically three times lower on average than what white families receive. This disparity has contributed to Black Americans falling behind in wealth accumulation while white generational peers are empowered to move towards further economic stability and advancement. Black families have certainly been capable of growing assets even in the shadow of Jim Crow and other forms of systemic racism that persist to this day. So why haven’t they been able to hold on to this wealth and pass it to their heirs?

Before the Race Massacre of 1921, the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a vibrant, thriving community of Black residents, like many of the “Freedmen’s Towns, and “Freedom Colonies established after the Civil War. Families there owned land, operated businesses, and ran community-sustaining institutions to create property wealth with an estimated value of over $200 million in today’s dollars, earning Greenwood the moniker “Black Wall Street.” When the Greenwood neighborhood was burned to ashes during a violent racial attack, hundreds of residents lost their lives and businesses, thousands of survivors were left homeless and impoverished, and many of them were hunted down, executed, or imprisoned. Laws were passed by the city of Tulsa to impede the rebuilding of Greenwood by survivors and their families. The most disheartening part of Greenwood’s story: this was not an uncommon occurrence.

In Chicago alone, approximately 1,000 Black homes and businesses were burned down during the Red Summer of 1919, a season of racism-fueled on Black communities across the nation. The segregation and violence of Jim Crow, in particular, have been theorized to have had a pervasive impact, stifling Black innovation and entrepreneurship with the threat of violent reprisal for Black wealth building.

In the latest Power of Difference event, speakers discussed how racially driven violence toward Black people like in Tulsa, Chicago, and elsewhere — particularly during the several decades following the abolishment of slavery — was used to rob Black people, destroy their property and intimidate them from building wealth. Government policies, local and federal, often neglected to protect Black communities from this ongoing threat, and instead have codified many racially discriminatory policies such as redlining, government seizures under eminent domain, and disenfranchisement. In turn, such practices have systematically destroyed and eroded the value of Black wealth since the Reconstruction era, with the effects felt to this day.

Pathways to recovery and resilience

Despite economic impediments and discriminatory policies, strategic options and vehicles for securing assets can help more Black families strengthen the economic mobility of future generations. Session speakers painted a detailed picture of how to address these systemic injustices: loopholes in state property inheritance laws can be closed; discriminatory institutional practices and local ordinances, such as those that might assign more value to land according to who owns it, can be revoked; and concentrations of wealth in Black communities, like those created in Greenwood can be systematically encouraged through initiatives that can start at the individual level.

Sean Anderson, a curator from The Museum of Modern Art, discussed the Reconstructions, Architecture, and Blackness in America exhibition he created with scholar and architect Mabel Wilson and 11 Black architects, designers and artists. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the project aims to encourage reflection on how Black communities strive to build and rebuild in the face of economic and social challenges, and “…how history can be made visible and equity can be built”. The exhibition sparks questions about topics such as “What might our nation look like today if all-Black towns of the past had been allowed to thrive?” and “How might Black community spaces be used to prepare for threats imposed by climate change?”

Reggie Lee, Partner and Chief Transformation Officer at The Carlyle Group described the ten-year journey he took to reclaim the family land that his great grandmother, a formerly enslaved person, had purchased during the Reconstruction era. His story serves as a case study for reclaiming and preserving family-owned assets. For example, to keep the newly reclaimed property intact for future generations, using a trust to ensure legacy building.

The panel Q&A delved into reasons for the continued loss of Black assets and different ways better laws, policies, and individual practices could help reverse this trend. Lack of wills and vehicles like trusts, for example, can make family land and other asset claims vulnerable to loopholes in policies, such as heirs property laws (aka ownership in common) or inheritance taxes. However, it is estimated that 70% of Black Americans do not have a will or estate plan.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

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