When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, many companies still resemble a classic latte — the workforce at the ‘bottom’ may be diverse and be a fair mixture of different races but at the ‘top’, it’s still mostly white.
African Americans comprise roughly 13% of the US population — and yet fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black.
This is what the Bleeker Collective aims to change.
Co-founded by CEO at Bleeker Cam Snaith, the platform and community was born out of the need to put underrepresented talent in the driver’s seat of their career and give them resources and networks to achieve career growth and access leadership positions.
Where to find the community: Via their site, bleeker.co. Anyone wanting to join has to answer a few questions before being approved to join the community.
Who can join: Bleeker Collective is a free-to-join community. They also have paid content for members who want access to more specialized assistance. Candidacy is evaluated on four essential qualities: curiosity, generosity, growth mindset, and integrity. If you’re interested in applying to join, head over here.
What you can expect: You will find career advancement resources, networking opportunities, videos, seminars, and events aimed at helping you grow as a professional.
Establishing career control is tough for Black professionals, says Collective Associate and Community Builder at Bleeker Sarah Vaughn.
“It’s exceptionally hard for all historically marginalized groups. What’s required to move into the driver’s seat of your career is gaining consistent access to excellent advice, mentorship, coaching, and job opportunities. Once you’re in the driver’s seat and you understand where you want to go and how you want to get there, the sky’s the limit.”
Bleeker’s job, she says, is to put Black professionals in control, and make sure they know what to do once they’re there.
The Bleeker platform has also worked with companies such as Apple, BlackRock, Google, Nike, Bolthouse Farms, and Warner Music Group to help them create inclusive, diverse, and meaningful work environments that help talent unlock their leadership potential.
“Community is everything at Bleeker,” says Sarah. “We connect professionals to other lifelong learners across all industries, professions, and backgrounds with the essential resources needed to achieve their extraordinary life’s work.”
When applying to join the Bleeker community, potential members are asked to indicate how they can help other members with their career growth. Options include sharing best practices or habits (via email or text), serving as a mentor or advisor, or sharing professional advice (via phone or video call).
“We ask all community members to be contributors to the community and support other Collective members in their pursuit of a meaningful career. We encourage our members to be open to lending advice and champion one another to inspire and explore ideas together,” she says.
In 2021, Bleeker launched a Fellowship for specifically Black and Latinx professionals.
Those who are part of the Bleeker Fellowship program receive support from professionals who are at the managerial level and above.
Coaches work one-on-one with Fellows over nine months to help them understand leadership principles and provide tailored resources and career advice. Participants can also join group learning forums, and they'll be connected with allies who will provide advice, mentorship, and sponsorship.
Although the fellowship is on hold this year, Sarah says they will relaunch soon.
A review of the 50 most valuable public companies in the US revealed that only 8% of C-suite executives — the highest corporate leaders, often those reporting to the CEO — are Black.
“Our goal is to normalize the top-to-bottom representation of historically marginalized talent in the workplace,” says Sarah.
“We believe that by creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces with a balanced representation of historically marginalized talent from the board and executive levels, we will have a significant impact on the culture. This is what we’re working towards. This is our vision for a Bleeker-influenced future.”
A huge part of helping marginalized people advance in their careers is to provide them with (largely free) resources if they’re a part of the community.
For Sarah, this is a community that she wishes she had when she was starting out in her career, and is proud to be the one providing that for people just like her.
“We empower Black professionals by centering our work around their needs and supporting them during every stage of their careers”, says Sarah.
“Leading this community means so much to me because I wish I had a community like this when I started in my career. I love meeting our community members and helping them advance in their careers and introducing them to fellow collective members so they can have mentors,” she says.