COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus small-business owner Chevonne Harris wants to help fellow Black women and all women of color advance in their careers.
That’s why she’s created a job portal specifically dedicated to women of color where job seekers can search for job opportunities and employers in search of attracting a diverse workforce can recruit such candidates.
Harris’ new site, dubbedWorkSpace, is part of her business ThriveIN, which is a community aimed at advancing the “professional and personal advancement and financial freedom of Black GenZennial women.” That category refers to women in their 20s and 30s.
She said helping equip Black women with opportunities for career advancement is important coming out of the pandemic and is especially relevant after the “racial re-awakening” in the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not impacted people equally, Harris said.
Compared to February 2020, the employment levels of Black women and Hispanic and Latina women are down 9.7% and 8.6% respectively, according to a CNBC analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics from March.
The unemployment rate for Black women was 9.2% in the first quarter of 2021, well above the 5.4% rate for white women. Latina women had an 8.8% unemployment rate.
Harris said even before Covid-19, there were “barriers at every step of the professional pipeline” for Black women, including when it comes to pay. The reasoning for creating a specific job portal, she said, is that candidates would be assured that employers engaged on the site would value equality and diversity.
“The employer has to sell the candidate on their organizations,” through their job posting, Harris said.
She is starting small. Experience Columbus is a client, and she is currently working with other large Columbus employers to get jobs posted on the platform.
“We’re targeting small and mid-size companies as well,” Harris said. “Those are companies that when we think about diversity and inclusion, have a lot of room for improvement. They have the appetite to do it but they don’t know where to go.”
Jennifer McCallum, vice president of culture and talent at Experience Columbus, said the tourism bureau was excited to partner with Harris’s organization.
“We are making a concerted effort toward more equity and inclusion in the tourism industry, and we know that in Columbus that starts with us,” McCallum said. “ThriveIN is a great resource for us to reach one of our target audiences who may never before have considered a career in the field.”
Meanwhile, Harris is engaged with about 100 job-seekers who are women of color, with goals of getting 500 on the platform in the first year.
The platform is free for the job seekers. Employers will have to pay to get their jobs posted.
Though Harris is starting off with promoting the site in Columbus, her eventual hope is to expand regionally and then nationally.
“We know the problem in terms of Black women getting jobs and being seen is not just a local issue,” she said. “If you have a job opening and you’re looking for talented women of color to fill those positions, we want you. We want women to know that you can come here and know that your resume is being looked at by people who value you.”
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