Four Distinguished Black Business Leaders and a Fantastic Book!

NOTE: Some links to related blogs dealing with race and racism at the bottom.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, even though my deep area of expertise is the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community, I know it is critical to educate myself and support other key areas of diversity including race. The struggles of black-owned businesses and professionals are still very real and present and need continued attention.

One wonderful organization I occasionally participate with is the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA – link), conceived in 1970 to help Blacks coming into the corporate sector, largely for the first time, share experiences and insights to help make the journey easier. See my 2014 blog about their “Leaders of Tomorrow” Program.

On February 2, 2018, the Raleigh-Durham chapter of the NBMBAA hosted a panel discussion with four distinguished business leaders:
• James Sills, CEO, M&F Bank
• Michael Lawrence, CEO, NC Mutual Life Insurance Company
• Isaac Green, President & CEO, Piedmont Investment Advisors
• Joseph Sansom, past chairman of M&F bank and on their Raleigh Advisory Board.

Some of the key points made during the panel discussion included:

• Many black-owned businesses like the ones represented on the panel were founded as a necessity when the enterprises of the day would not serve black customers.

• M&F Bank realized the importance of “owning” vs “renting” and provided loans for mortgages in the early 1900s to blacks.

• Supporting community banks, businesses and community is important for the vibrancy of a community.

• With desegregation came a great deal of mergers and acquisitions of these black owned businesses which has been both good and bad for the black community. For example, in 1970 there were 45 black-owned insurance companies and now that is down to under 20.

• One dynamic of leading a black owned business is the opportunity to call the shots instead of being on the outside looking in.
In addition to attending this panel, I recently read a fantastic short (only 108 pages) powerful book titled “Listen In – Crucial Conversations on Race in the Workplace” by Allison Manswell. This unique book is written as a novel, but contains subsections of useful business tools as it follows the journeys of 5 black professionals who are close friends. The book also addresses the intersection of the black community with generational, gender, religious and gay diversity.

The USA will be a stronger country and our economy more robust as we continue to understand the issues of various minorities within our national fabric and take action to support and nurture all businesses and professionals.

* * * * *

Related Blogs:

In “Sexism, Racism and the Dynamics of Power,” I examine the power dynamic as critical when we discuss the societal and workplace issues of sexism, sexual harassment and racism.

“Divided We Stand – Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump,” reviews and summarizes a fascinating and important book by David R. Morse that chronicles the many forms of racism present within the USA from our founding days up to current times.

• Though a good number of white people believe that the racial discrimination of the past is eradicated, the black community for the most part, as well as statistical realities, would indicate otherwise. See “Facing the Truth – Racism Still Persists in the USA.”)

A Blog for Black History Month – Featuring the National Black MBA Association Raleigh-Durham Chapter “Leaders of Tomorrow” (NBMBAA RDU LOT) Program

Blog writer Stan C. Kimer meets LOT participant Isaiah Forte-Rose, an 11th grader at Middle Creek High School, a budding talented entrepreneur who is already building a Custom Tee-Shirts and Graphic Design / Videography business

Blog writer Stan C. Kimer meets LOT participant Isaiah Forte-Rose, an 11th grader at Middle Creek High School, a budding talented entrepreneur who is already building a Custom Tee-Shirts and Graphic Design / Videography business

As both diversity and a career / talent development consultant, I seek innovative programs in those areas and am always willing to assist and present at community activities to support diversity and talent development efforts. In this blog for Black History Month (link) (February in the USA and Canada), I would like to introduce an excellent program focusing on development of emerging talent – the “Leaders of Tomorrow” Program.

The NBMBAA RDU LOT program (link) is part of a national network of middle and high school students and distinguished professionals who focus on empowering African American students by challenging, stimulating and teaching them to grow in leadership and professional development. The effort is administered, coordinated and financially supported by the local chapters of the National Black MBA Association, whose overall goal is leading in the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for African Americans.

I first connected with our local NBMBAA RDU chapter (link) when I met their volunteer VP of Operations and LOT Program Director, Mr. Marion Johnson, at a local event for business leaders sponsored by the Triangle Business Journal (link to blog about that event – African American local business leader and General Manager at Biogen Idec, Machelle Sanders, presented a fantastic overview of key leadership attributes.)

Blog writer Stan C. Kimer presenting "Leading in a Diverse World" at the December 2013 LOT monthly session

Blog writer Stan C. Kimer presenting “Leading in a Diverse World” at the December 2013 LOT monthly session

After meeting Marion, he invited me to the annual NBMBAA RDU-LOT Fundraiser and Gala where they introduced the participants of that year’s LOT program, celebrated the successes of the Program and held an awards
ceremony for the students. I was so impressed by this work. Truly, all of us need to support activities that help build a diverse pipeline of excellent leaders – it is only by providing strong encouragement and excellent resources across all segments of our society can we truly reach our full potential for economic development.

This past December, I was invited to be a workshop presenter at the NBMBAA RDU LOT December meeting. I presented “Leading in a Diverse World” highlighting how the best leaders will understand the full spectrum of diversity and realize that leveraging the diversity within groups and teams will lead to the best results and maximum productivity from each participant. These students were sharp and attentive and I look forward to seeing them in the future as our community and business leaders.

I along with over 40 LOT participants and parents listen intently to the first speaker on

I along with over 40 LOT participants and parents listen intently to the first speaker on “Effective Communication Skills” at the Saturday, December 14th LOT session

In addition to having these workshop sessions one Saturday per month, the NBMBAA RDU LOT program also selects and prepares five students to represent the RDU Chapter at the National Business Case Competition where LOT programs from around the country develop and showcase their proposed solutions to a real business issue. In preparation for the competition the students are taught advanced math, critical thinking, analytical skills, writing, research, and public speaking skills, financial projection development and plan implementation. In 2013, they placed 3rd in the nation, winning a $5,000 scholarship. As part of my diversity presentation, I emphasized how building their team with a diverse group with various experiences, talents and backgrounds could lead a stronger overall competitive solution- much as in the real business world!

To close, I encourage every reader of this blog to look for ways they can participate and have an impact somewhere in their community to help foster diverse leaders for tomorrow.