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Saying that racial diversity in the workplace is unimpressive would be an understatement. According to CBS News in 2019, less than 1% of executives at Fortune 500 companies were Black. A year after reporting this, Charlie Scharf, the CEO of Wells Fargo, stated that the reason he doesn’t hire more African Americans is that “the Black talent pool is limited.”

To make matters worse, our numbers are decreasing as opposed to rising. In 2012, there were six Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, yet as of today, there are only four.

“As Black professionals, we have to make sure that we are pressuring these corporations about their diversity hiring. Furthermore, we have to be vigilant in making sure businesses are being transparent in the deliverables with racial equity,” stated Sharon Smith-Akinsanya.

Sharon is the founder of People of Color Careers: Social Hiring Network, an organization that helps professionals of color land their dream careers with employers who are serious about increasing racial inclusivity at all levels of the corporate structure.

It’s quite common for corporations to blame their lack of diversity within the workplace on an issue with the pipeline, giving the excuse of a lack of qualified candidates. However, according to the Economic Policy Institute, Black professionals are twice as likely to be unemployed as white professionals with the same or similar education and background. With statistics so staggering, we are forced to wonder if businesses are even trying to be intentional about actively searching for talent in the Black pool.

“The CEOs have not made that decision to be more deliberate about hiring people of color. They have to get serious about the representation of the consumers they serve and the employees that they oversee,” stated Sharon, when asked why she believes there are so few Black professionals at executive levels.

Though the responsibility of hiring falls mainly on HR departments, executives and hiring managers, there are also ways that we can show up for ourselves and increase our chances of being hired.