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Excuses are the tools of the incompetent,

They produce monuments of nothingness,

Build bridges to nowhere,

And those who choose to dwell in them

are usually good for nothing else


“Excuses are the tools of the incompetent…” yet, many company leaders tend to use them when they “choose” not to hire people of color.

“From Black people aren’t applying to our company,” to “they don’t have the right training,” these are a few excuses that have hindered diversification within corporations. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have provided educational access to Black students since their inception. Not to mention, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data shows that HBCUs graduate the highest percentage of Black students in the nation; 45 percent associate’s degrees, 81 percent bachelor’s, 70 percent master’s and 62 percent doctoral. Additionally, HBCUs provide a diverse and highly trained pool of workers for companies.

“Excuses produce monuments of nothingness…” Corporations should build partnerships with HBCUs to  increase Black student access to corporate jobs and provide a diversified pool of applicants. Many companies have built pipelines for students to access the corporate world. These collaborations provide hands-on training on-campus from corporate leaders. They also provide on-the-job training for students. Company partnerships are important because they allow students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to be competitive in the 21st century workforce. Such partnerships provide students direct entrance for careers at top-tier companies and enhanced social mobility.

Ashleigh Brown-GrierAshleigh Brown-Grier

“Excuses build bridges to nowhere…” so build your bridges somewhere. Morgan State University is now a hub for corporate built bridges. Morgan State president Dr. David Wilson has secured several academic partnerships including Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, The New York Times and a five-year academic partnership with Ripple Labs Inc. The U.S. based tech company is a real-time gross settlement system, currency exchange and remittance network. This partnership brings advanced education and research programs to the university (Morgan State University).

Wilson also finalized a partnership with the Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal- Morgan State Business Journalism Exchange Program. “This partnership reinforces the School of Journalism and Communication’s (SGJC) mission to prepare students for 21st century journalism with practical training and experience, as well as a strong academic background Building on a longstanding commitment to training, outreach and diversity is the cornerstone of WSJ’s stewardship of the program,” according to a Morgan State release. Additionally, the Ripple partnership purpose is to broaden financial technology awareness through its University Block Chain Initiative (UBCI). Morgan will serve as a hub to prepare HBCU students for opportunities within the field of cryptocurrency.

The Google In Residence program, sponsored by Google, collaborates with 11 HBCUs and 2 Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) to improve diversity within the technology industry by placing Google engineers at these partner institutions. According to Google, 35 percent of Black students earn their computer science degrees at HBCUs, but only a small portion make it to Silicon Valley. As of 2015, only 1 percent of technical staff who worked at Google were Black. This is a common trend amongst tech companies. Additionally, The Boeing Company recently donated $6 million to technical workforce development in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. This collaboration will allow eight HBCUs to take a lead on cultivating students for careers in the aerospace industry.

“And those who choose to dwell in them are usually good for nothing else…” instead of “claiming” there aren’t enough Black people applying for jobs at your company, put forth the effort to train them. Build bridges that lead to job accessibility for students at HBCUs. Build monuments that will permanently close the job opportunity gap for Black college graduates. Stop dwelling on your excuses and make change by training your company’s future leaders. And for the leaders who choose to dwell on excuses, and choose to hinder diversity, you are incompetent. Instead of counting us out, train us!

Ashleigh Brown-Grier is a master’s student in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania.

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