Black professionals face a unique challenge when it comes to securing equal opportunities in the workplace. Race relations are ever-changing, and while it may seem to some as though we have made leaps and bounds, the reality is that there is still a lot of work to be done.
It is no secret that Black professionals are underrepresented in Fortune 500 companies and the like. In fact, there have been only 18 Black CEOs in the entire history of Fortune 500 companies. A more staggering statistic from Fortune found that less than one percent of all companies in the U.S. have a Black leader running the company.
As we work to narrow the gap, it is important to highlight careers and industries where Black professionals are lacking in presence. Careers for Black professionals need to be more prominent in all sectors, but especially the ones below.
Minorities currently make up one-quarter of the U.S. population but barely one-tenth of the healthcare workforce. There is no shortage of diversity amongst individuals who require healthcare, and the healthcare professionals who provide these services should reflect that. From nurses to doctors to surgeons to administrative assistants, it is imperative that our healthcare system reflects a wide range of multicultural talent that prioritizes inclusivity for all cultural groups including Black professionals.
The racial divide between Black and white Americans has been prominent in college athletics for years. A 2020 study from Statista found that only 18.1 percent of NCAA male college athletes were Black, a number that directly correlates to the lack of representation of Black coaches and program directors. College sports are the gateway to professional sports, which is part of why see severe underrepresentation in Black leadership throughout organizations such as the NFL. College athletics departments would make for some of the best career opportunities for Black professionals looking to enter the field, but only if higher education is committed to supporting this change.
Minorities are systematically excluded from top-level academic positions. Although they account for 16% of science PhD graduates, minorities account for less than 7% of all full professorships. This exclusion is detrimental to Black Americans in academics and creates a mentorship gap for Black kids entering higher education. The positive side is that colleges and universities are aware of the inequities and are making a concerted effort to hire Black faculty within academia.
Science and Technology
Black professionals tend to be underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Experts believe that there are two causes behind why the careers for Black professionals in STEM are lacking. The first is access to education: minority groups and Black people in particular tend to have less access to quality education based on their living environments and home-life circumstances. The second cause, which is really a precursor to the first, is financial constraints. The ability to live in a neighborhood that provides quality public education requires one to have a certain amount of income to support such a lifestyle. Minorities are routinely overlooked for opportunities that would enable them to be in such positions. This leads to a dearth of careers for Black professionals that could result in higher-paying jobs, which could enable them to live in areas with better education and get the skills needed for careers in STEM.
Construction is a union-driven business that relies on relationships and networks. The history of unions goes way back to a time that precedes the Civil Rights movement. Although outdated, some of the practices that were established back then have lasted. Attitudes are hard to shake, especially within industries such as construction and engineering. That said, there has been a shift towards a more inclusive world across all industries. Black professionals would be wise to seek out career opportunities in construction.
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