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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Black Professionals Month seeks to strengthen community of African American business leaders, entrepreneurs

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Jerome Hutchinson, Jr. and Denise Kaigler
Jerome Hutchinson, Jr., the chief servant officer and founder of ICABA World Network; and Denise Kaigler, founder of MDK Brand Management and author. Hutchinson and Kaigler founded Black Professionals Month, a strategic initiative to ignite the change they say African Americans need. Courtesy Photo

Despite gains in education and employment opportunities since the civil rights era, Black professionals show a significant underrepresentation in leadership advancement and wealth generation. A Society for Human Resources Management survey recently revealed that Black professionals hold only 3.2 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles and less than one percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Jerome Hutchinson Jr., and Denise Kaigler, two African American entrepreneurs hope to change the equation dramatically. They founded Black Professionals Month (BPM), a strategic initiative to ignite the change they say African Americans need.

“Since 2007, my companies have connected Black professionals to key relationships, information, and opportunities to enhance their career success,” said Hutchinson, chief servant officer and founder of ICABA World Network, the world’s leading online community-enhancing success for Black professionals and entrepreneurs. “By recognizing and convening Black professionals annually, we hope to enhance efforts to increase leadership roles and sustained wealth-building for Black professionals.” An award-winning digital marketer, career coach and brand and communications strategist, Kaigler called her association with Black Professionals Month a no-brainer.

Kaigler, the founder of MDK Brand Management and author of “Forty Dollars and a Brand: How to Overcome Challenges, Defy the Odds and Live Your Awesomeness,” researched the troubling statistics and immersed herself into Black Professionals Month. “I was seeing one particular statistic that showed that Black people occupy three-to-five-percent of all senior and executive-level roles,” Kaigler said. “All of the talk, energy, and investments made in diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in corporate America is having little impact. The gap hasn’t closed at all in the past five-to-10-years, so something must be done.

Black Professionals Month is an opportunity to help Black Americans increase our presence around the world.” Beginning Friday, October 1, 2021, an unprecedented 31 days of virtual programs and events kicks off to help ignite the leadership advancement of Black professionals. Hutchinson and Kaigler have dedicated the month to building solid collaborations, proportionate leadership, and sustained wealth for Black professionals globally. Established Black professionals will offer inspirational words of wisdom during the in-person and live-streamed opening keynote address in Miami, Florida. Throughout the month, attendees can participate in interactive BPM “mainstream” to “top tier” career advancement workshops that focus on personal branding, leadership development, and career pathways. Discussions will center on issues affecting Black professionals in the workplace, and organizers plan to help honor diversity leaders during the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference and Awards.

Hutchinson and Kaigler say attendees will be able to network with company leaders during BPM “Industry Spotlights” to learn about and explore potential career opportunities across select industries. They also can attend subject-matter expert events to “deepen the understanding of critical areas that can impact the growth and advancement of Black professionals.” “As a Black woman and former C-suite executive, I am deeply passionate about developing programs that can help Black professionals overcome challenges and reach their career goals,” Kaigler insisted.

Over the past 12 years, Hutchinson noted that he has built a network of more than 13,000 Black professionals and entrepreneurs. “We are looking to be that one-stopshop, if you will, for Black professionals who want to connect, collaborate, and build a trusted community,” Hutchinson said. “We didn’t want this as a one-off. We wanted something sustaining. I shared my ideas with [Kaigler], and this is not going to stop. It’s really a movement.” The cost to register to attend Black Professionals Month ranges from $49 for a day pass to $99 for the leader package. An executive package that includes an entire month of access to programs and events costs $199. To learn more about BPM programs, to attend or to become a sponsor, visit: www.BlackProfessionalsMonth.com.

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