Top Executives Salute Diversity Pioneer Who Turned ‘Black Rage’ Into Corporate Empowerment

Dr. Price Cobbs was considered one of the most important change agents we have seen in corporate America when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and having it incorporated into global business/cultural strategies. He had everyone’s ear. Ronald C. Parker, Former President & CEO, Executive Leadership Council

Legions of African American executives share that sentiment as they continue to honor the renowned psychiatrist deemed as a transformative force in corporate America and guiding light for generations of black professionals. Cobbs not only advocated for inclusive corporate environments for five decades but gained the national spotlight when he and his colleague William H. Grier wrote the book Black Rage, considered “one of the 20th century’s most critical examinations of racism and African American life.” The New York Times bestseller published in 1968—a turbulent year marked by the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—broke new ground in detailing, through a series of case studies, the magnitude of centuries-long oppression of African Americans as well as the psychological impact of grief and depression rooted in black America.

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At 89, Cobbs died of heart and lung failure after traveling from his San Francisco home to Philadelphia for his grandson’s high school graduation. With assistance from the ELC, we offer reflections and remembrances from top black executives and the organization’s members on Cobb’s lasting impact throughout this article.

For more than 30 years, Cobbs could be found on the pages of BLACK ENTERPRISE for his revolutionary work and powerful insights. He told BE that the diversity thrust greatly expanded after he converted his private practice into Pacific Management Systems, a San Francisco-based consulting service for multinational corporations, government agencies, community organizations and corporate executives. Among his blue-chip clients: Procter & Gamble, Digital Equipment, Fannie Mae, PepsiCo, and Walmart.

Dr. Price Cobbs was an exceptional leader, who became a mentor, colleague, and friend. He was a counselor to corporate giants and helped prepare African American leaders to join the top ranks of public companies and boards. His legacy lives on through all who benefited from his commitment to cultivating greatness. He will be sorely missed.” —Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente

In 1988, BLACK ENTERPRISE named Cobbs to our inaugural roster of “America’s Leading Black Doctors,” earning him the distinction of being one of the nation’s top 15 African American physicians at the time. The University of California – Berkley and Meharry Medical College graduate told BE of his findings during the formative years of a practice with black and white patients from varied backgrounds and income levels. “As I pushed people past the myth of color-blindness, I began to see black people, whether they were middle class, unemployed or young professionals trying to get started, were angry.” He also shared that, in many cases, such “repressed frustration” contributed to a host of deadly ailments suffered by African Americans, including hypertension and heart disease.

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During that interview, Cobbs also shared his development of innovative techniques. After receiving a grant from University of California -San Francisco to explore ways of reducing the level of racism on college campuses, he delved into “group discovery and the dimensions of rage, blackness, whiteness and cultural stress.” As a result, Cobbs developed the revolutionary ethnotherapy model which he viewed as an instrument to change attitudes and assumptions arising from racial, ethnic and value differences. He told BE about its therapeutic value: “I began to see that the more clear and healthy people were about their identity, the better able they were to clear up their conflicts, neuroses and baggage.”

In a release, the ELC cited how Cobbs’ ethnotherapy model, which earned him The Pathfinder Award from the Association for Humanistic Psychology, was applied at P&G with considerable success. In fact, it helped spawn contemporary D&I practices in corporate America.

Dr. Cobbs was a corporate whisperer and a masterful cultural interpreter. For many of us, his approach was to help us understand, and even appreciate, the unwritten rules of corporate America. By the same token, he was instrumental in getting corporate America to suspend some assumptions about us as African American executives. In the end, each side came to the table with a level of clarity and honesty that heretofore had been missing. For someone like me who knew little about how companies actually worked, but was otherwise very capable, it was a huge help. Maurice Cox, former vice president, diversity & inclusion development, PepsiCo Inc.

BLACK ENTERPRISE Publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. always valued Cobbs as a resource of empowering information and strategic counsel to African Americans seeking career advancement. So he tapped him to conduct professional success workshops at the Black Enterprise Professional Exchange series of networking forums in the 1980s. Cobbs’ advice to attendees: “To access personal power, we must develop a mindset that we are entitled to exercise power.”

A prolific researcher, writer, and producer, he collaborated on a series of books and films that explained racial dynamics in corporate settings while providing tools to elevate black executives. In fact, 35 years after Black Rage, he co-wrote with Judith L. Turnock another seminal work, Cracking the Corporate Code. It featured first-person interviews with 32 senior African American executives on their career trajectories, challenges and successes at major companies like General Electric, IBM, PepsiCo, and Prudential, among others. The book became a must-read reference guide for African Americans trying to achieve management success.

How does one describe a man who walked with SO many people on their personal journeys as African Americans in corporate America? Each of us trailblazers with unique backgrounds, experiences, hopes, and dreams. All of us creating new paths on terrains that were most often inhospitable. Dr. Price Cobbs was my North Star. He guided me through uncharted pathways and, most importantly, shared his wisdom on sustaining myself while on the journey. —Ann Fudge, former Chairman & CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands

Cobbs was always ready to guide black executives—from those engaged in trench warfare to others immersed in boardroom deliberations. For more than 20 years, he served as a consultant with ELC, the preeminent membership organization of black senior executives, and once again demonstrated his commitment to the expansion of the number of global black executives at the C-suite level and within the corporate governance ranks. He also served as a co-founder of The Diversity Collegium, an international think tank focused on addressing issues of inclusion and equity. Cobbs influence has been felt from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Whether driving organizational diversity in group sessions or helping to infuse a black senior manager with a sense of entitlement via one-on-one counseling, his advocacy and action will be replicated as a result of the numerous careers he advanced and countless lives he touched.

I first read about Price in 1977, during the start of my tenure at HP. We scheduled a meeting and soon after that, our partnership began. He provided outstanding wisdom and guidance, which served as the genesis of our early efforts in diversity and inclusion at HP. Our relationship grew and we became close. With a skill for being direct and nonjudgmental, he gave sage advice. Like for many others, he became my mentor; and I valued our time together. In fact, I have consulted with Price on every major professional decision that I have made since our first meeting. He became my mirror. He helped me face my fears and trepidations. He also taught me an important lesson —that age is just a number. Something he obviously lived as he wrote his last book in his 80s and was still giving great career advice until his passing. I will miss him greatly but his legacy will live on. —Kenneth L. Coleman, Chairman, Saama Technologies

The post Top Executives Salute Diversity Pioneer Who Turned ‘Black Rage’ Into Corporate Empowerment appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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EMPLOYMENT UPDATE:

The Executive Producer Behind the Empowerment Experience at Essence Festival

Meet Gina Charbonnet, the founder of GeChar Inc. and executive producer behind an empowerment experience at the Essence Festival. Over the last 19 years, she’s made a business out of women’s empowerment. And believe it or not, when it comes to producing an exceptional event she learned her best business lessons from working at her family’s funeral home.

Considering your family owns the famed Charbonnet-Labat-Glapion Funeral Home, you come from a history of entrepreneurship. What are some of the best lessons you learned about entrepreneurship from your family?

Growing up watching my grandfather and dad invest meticulously in the funeral home business, which served the community, gave me a bigger understanding of the importance of branding, especially in a service-oriented business. The funeral home was competing with five other funeral homes in the same area for clients.

Best lessons I learned was that relationships and networking are very important to maintaining and sustaining your business. I also learned that having a presence in and supporting the community you serve is important as well.

Being in the funeral home every day, playing and pretending to be a receptionist that greeted clients or the funeral director that took care of the family arrangements, I learned life is production, and planning a funeral was planning a person’s last rite of passage, their last act—it inspired me to go into the entertainment and production business. It taught me to develop and work on projects that would organize and bring together all the elements creatively and logistically to tell stories.

essence festival

(Photo: Gina Charbonnet)

From Sunday brunches to full-day conferences, women’s empowerment has become a multibillion-dollar business. What was the “aha moment” that inspired you to turn empowerment into your business: GeChar Entertainment and Production?   

I made a choice early on that I wanted to work on projects that educate, create equity, have a social justice focus, and shift the way people think about our interconnectivity. I created GeChar’s mantra, Consciously Moving the Crowd, because I wanted everyone to know that the work we create contributes to building awareness and making people conscious.

So for me, my aha moment was when I first started working on the ESSENCE Festival’s Empowerment Experience with Susan Taylor the former editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine. Realizing I was working alongside the icon that graced the pages of ESSENCE Magazine and who encouraged women to embrace their spirituality and love themselves, it was a turning point in how I saw myself and my potential. I realized I was working on conversations and messaging that was actually touching people’s lives and changing the way they thought about themselves and their communities.

It’s not just about working on projects that empower the masses, it’s about embracing the ideas we live, breathe, and develop and experiences that we create. It shifts your life, your vision, and the lives you touch when you realize that the work you are doing is empowering people. So, I would have to say my aha moment was the realization that the work we were doing and creating through our programming was actually changing people’s lives.

What is the biggest change you’d like to see in the industry and how are you working toward making that change happen? 

I think creating content and experiences all age groups can embrace. In the next 5-10 years, millennials will be the new audience. We have to figure out the formula for making programming more inter-generational so we can learn from each other and create dynamic and engaging programming that is marketable via social media.

In addition to Essence, you have worked on the New Orleans Jazz Festival, with Black Girls Rock, and more.  What’s the most underestimated or overlooked tip for creating a great event? 

So many times people overlook the audience. You can spend months with a client that has amazing ideas for events and projects, but you have to really do your marketing research to figure out if your idea is viable enough to attract an audience and sponsors.

The post The Executive Producer Behind the Empowerment Experience at Essence Festival appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment Law To Earn Black Investors $1.3 Billion

Vodacom Group, Africa’s second largest mobile communications company, will pay out approximately $ 1.3 billion to its black investors as part of the company’s participation in the black economic empowerment (BEE) effort, enforced by South African law.

The company said on Monday that it had “entered into an agreement of up to R17.5 billion with its existing black economic empowerment (BEE) partners and a newly formed staff scheme” that will see the partners swap their current holdings in Vodacom South Africa for shares in its parent company, Vodacom Group.

Vodacom Group has agreed terms with Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), Thebe Investment Corporation (Thebe), YeboYethu (existing BEE partners) and a newly formed staff scheme, whose combined interests will be consolidated into a new YeboYethu BEE structure that will own shares in Vodacom Group,” the company said in a news release.

In the approximately $ 1.3 billion agreement, BEE partners will exchange their current holdings in Vodacom South Africa for a shareholding of between 5.8% and 6.25% in Vodacom Group, the company said.

WHAT EXACTLY IS BEE?:

After its transition from Apartheid in 1994, South Africa’s African National Congress government decided to address the inequalities of Apartheid by redistributing assets and opportunities to South African blacks, Coloreds and Indian citizens, not available to them under White rule.

From South Africa’s own Treasury:

It is an integrated and coherent socio-economic process. It is located within the context of the country’s national transformation programme, namely the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme). It is aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past by seeking to substantially and equitably transfer and confer the ownership, management and control of South Africa’s financial and economic resources to the majority of the citizens. It seeks to ensure broader and meaningful participation in the economy by black people to achieve sustainable development and prosperity.”

In essence, BEE attempts to “create a degree of economic equality which would not itself be a natural market outcome” of the newly created political and socio-economic climate in the country. In plain English, the affirmative program is meant to level the playing field and spread the wealth to the historically oppressed people during Apartheid.  

VODACOM’S SHARE EXCHANGE:

Vodacom Group Limited, solely known as Vodacom, is a South African telecommunications company which provides voice, messaging and data services to over 55 million customers operating in over 40 African countries. The company is wholly owned by Vodafone Group plc, a British multinational telecommunications conglomerate.

In 2007, South Africa instituted the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. The goal is to spread the wealth across a broad spectrum of disadvantaged South Africans, which is in contrast to the original BEE which was narrow-based and focused only on equity ownership and management representation. The new law ensured that black employees and citizens were able to purchase shares in privately held and public corporations.

The three investment groups named in the $ 1.3 billion share swap: Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), Thebe Investment Corporation (Thebe), YeboYethu (existing BEE partners) are all community, South African and black-controlled investment groups. Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), for example is a community investment company, entrusted with the unique responsibility of preserving and growing the financial capital of the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN), an ethnic homeland of the Bafokeng people. Although Thebe Investment Corporation’s ownership structure has changed over the years, the ANC still has a controlling stake in the empowerment group (investment firm) through Batho Batho Trust, founded in 1992 as an ANC investment company, ensuring that black wealth is passed down to generations of black South Africans.

The third investment group, YeboYethu Limited, a publicly traded company, was formed in 2008 as an employee stock ownership plan to buy and hold Vodacom SA shares for the benefit of its shareholders. When Vodacom formed the company in 2008, it issued 14.4 million YeboYethu ordinary shares at R25 each ($ 1.88 in 2018 USD) and as a result a public offer, more than 102,000 qualifying black investors bought a stake in Vodacom SA.

WHAT BLACK INVESTORS GET:

When October comes around, Vodacom will unwind the empowerment transaction it initiated in 2008 and there will be R3 billion ($ 226 million) dividends for participants to share. At R67.28 per share, that represents a return of 2.7 times on their original investment, Vodacom said. Also, investors will now have shares in Vodacom International group rather than Vodacom SA.

  • YeboYethu will remain listed on the BEE segment of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange
    5.8% – 6.25% deal that consolidates the BEE shareholding, through YeboYethu, at Vodacom Group level
  • Transaction delivers R7.5Bn of value to existing BEE shareholders, 6.7 times the original capital investment
  • R3.0bn special dividend to current BEE shareholders, representing 2.7 times their original equity contribution
  • Will increase Vodacom Group’s effective BEE ownership to 20%

The post South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment Law To Earn Black Investors $ 1.3 Billion appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Salma Hayek Pinault on Women’s Empowerment: Our Time to Shine | SuperSoul Conversations | OWN

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Fitness Fridays: TrapYogaBae On How Trap Yoga Is Really A F–kin’ Empowerment Session For Black Women

Trap Yoga is a class you can’t miss, and TrapYogaBae has a story you can’t miss out on either.

The post Fitness Fridays: TrapYogaBae On How Trap Yoga Is Really A F–kin’ Empowerment Session For Black Women appeared first on MadameNoire.

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Afrocentric Empowerment Dolls Changing the Way Black Girls See Beauty

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At just 4 years old, Zara Kimotho had an identity crisis. As the only African American girl in her preschool, she intrinsically knew that her blackness made her different and she didn’t feel pretty. Feeling like the girls in her class with long, straight hair were superior, she asked her mother to transform her natural curls and kinks into bone straight tresses like that of her Asian best friend. Zara also criticized her black baby doll’s hair, which signaled to her mother that she had a problem that stemmed deeper than her hair.

“I couldn’t understand why at 4 years old, [Zara would] be that concerned about a specific component of her physicality. And why would that make her feel so much less than?” says Múkami Kinoti Kimotho, a 43-year-old Wall-Street-executive-turned-entrepreneur. She was “the only girl in her class who had curly, kinky hair. And so that was something that became an issue for her,” Kimotho says.

But that was just one factor that impacted Zara’s self-esteem. Kimotho says that living in a predominantly white neighborhood and internalizing social constructs that systematically glorify and normalize white beauty also hurt her daughter’s confidence.

 

girls (Image courtesy of Royelles)

 

Being a good mom, Kimotho reaffirmed for Zara that she was created to perfection and even explained the allure of black hair. She then spoke to other mothers about how their little girls were being affected by societal norms about beauty. Kimotho also took a survey and was flabbergasted when she found hundreds of mothers who shared her same concerns about their daughters. Some even revealed that their daughters have tried to starve or hurt themselves in order to meet unrealistic beauty standards.

“Realizing that this was a much bigger problem,” said Kimotho, I was determine “to figure out how to solve it.”

In August 2017 she launched Royelles, a collection of Afrocentric avatars to empower girls to be authentic, ambitious, and embrace their originality. Kimotho designed and hand-crafted 13 different prototypes in the collection. Each one comes with an interesting backstory.

“In a world with exclusive, unrealistic beauty ideals, our girls are barraged with messages that negatively influence their self-image, self-value, and aspirations. Royelles offers something disruptively different!” reads the website.

“Rather than tell girls who they are not, Royelles avatars give girls, ages 4 to 12, an immersive and holistic play experience centered around a collection of avatars that remind them that they are ENOUGH.”

 

girls (Image: courtesy of Royelles)

 

 

Ultimately, she wants to the collection to inspire girls into using their originality as a source of strength. “Whatever that makes you feel different, that is actually your superpower. That is where the opportunity lies for you to truly have an impact and make a special and unique difference in the world,” said Kimotho.

Kimotho added that she is on a mission to empower 1 million girls, but she needs your help.

With your help, we have a chance to make a difference in the hearts and minds of all girls, everywhere. We’re on Kickstarter to raise funds for our first production run of Royelles avatars. $ 100K will allow us to produce the first avatar from our collection of 13! While we’re starting off by producing MARA—our warrior princess, as backers, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for the Royelles avatar we’ll produce next! The more we raise over $ 100K, the more we can produce, and the more choices you’ll have.

 

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How Seeds of Fortune Creates Economic Empowerment Opportunities for Young Women of Color

As a high school senior, Nitiya Walker, was met with a challenge that many students face—”I have dreams of getting a college education, but I can’t afford it.” 

Seeds of Fortune The Seeds of Fortune team (Image: Seeds of Fortune)

 

“I met a young lady who earned $ 150,000 in scholarships to Spelman College. Her mom assisted her, so I asked her mother to work with me. She helped me win $ 250,000 in scholarships. I thought to myself “What if I never met the young lady in my Girl Scout troop?” It sparked a desire to want to help other girls gain access to free money. From this experience, Seeds of Fortune was born.

Seeds of Fortune is a scholarship program focused on creating the next generation of financially empowered young women of color. With more than 40 young women enrolled in the program, scholars have garnered $ 6 million in scholarship offers from top universities across the country and accepted more than $ 1 million in scholarship offers.

Black Enterprise: When it comes to being successful, what do you think is the most undervalued skill? 

Nitiya Walker: The ability for people to communicate their story and decisions behind their future goals and dreams. We help our scholars prep for interviews as well as intensive college essay development so they can share their stories with stakeholders. We also teach them critical thinking skills. This helps them decide which colleges are more cost effective, the career paths that align with their interest, and how money can be used as a tool to make it happen.

BE: Why did you decide to include an entrepreneurship component to your program?

NW: Entrepreneurship is the No. 1 way to build wealth in America. It is the third pillar of our values, as we believe that young women of color should be able to control their destiny and use their resources to create opportunities for themselves.

BE: Can you share one piece of advice to financially empower young women?

NW: It’s important to build savings, as savings brings security, and it will help to start your investment capital. In turn, investments build wealth. Also,

  • Pay yourself first. Then divide your accounts between a short-term savings account and a long-term savings account.
  • Select a second savings account that is difficult to access like credit unions, small banks, or digital banks.

 

Career – Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT UPDATE:

How A Hijab-Friendly Brooklyn Salon Became A Space For Women’s Empowerment

Muslim cosmetologist Huda Quhshi used to lug her supplies around New York City, cutting and coloring women’s hair over sinks in crowded apartments. 

But Quhshi’s days of itinerant hairstyling are over. Last month, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge, the 37-year-old realized her lifelong dream of opening a salon that caters entirely to women. Her salon, Le’Jemalik, has become a kind of sanctuary for women who want to let their hair down in a ladies-only space.

“It’s a place where you can come and feel relaxed, and just have a beautiful experience without worrying that a man is going to walk in,” Quhshi told The Huffington Post.

Le’Jemalik, which means “for your beauty” in Arabic, offers a full range of services, from hairstyling to nails, waxing and makeup. It even sells wedding dresses and offers regular seminars for beauty professionals looking to enhance their skills.

The salon hosted its grand opening on Jan. 29, with hundreds of visitors stopping by to glimpse the space, Quhshi said. It had already attracted a fair amount of media attention, not only as a business run by and for women but as a place where Muslim women, in particular, can feel safe and welcome.

Not all Muslim women cover their hair or wear hijabs. But those who do maintain a commitment to covering in front of men to whom they aren’t related. It’s a tradition upheld by some Orthodox Jewish women, as well.

Some salons have dividers or rooms in the back to accommodate women with these religious requirements. But Quhshi said she wasn’t aware of any other salons in New York City where the entire space is a men-free zone.

Men are allowed in the front waiting area of Le’Jemalik, but the actual service area lies behind a double door that only women may pass through. 

Quhshi said the salon has attracted many Muslim and Jewish clients since it opened. But she emphasized that “this space is for all women.”

“I’ve had women from other faiths tell me that they’re so excited about this space, even though they’re not Muslim,” she said. “They’re happy to be able to support a woman-run business and come here just because they want to feel comfortable.”

As a hijab-wearing Muslim woman of Yemeni descent, Quhshi said she hopes she can be an inspiration to other women who may have to overcome bias to achieve their goals. 

“I want to help other girls follow their dreams,” she said. “I’m definitely happy to empower other women and make other women feel like I’ve opened doors for them.”

Check out the HuffPost video above.

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