Candace Marie Stewart is a verifiable street style star (if / when such a thing existed) and has an impressive following on social media – people who are there to take notes on her bold and stylized fashion choices. She is also a social media consultant for Prada and previously worked for Barneys New York. In other words, Stewart might have a knack for creating a presence on the gram, but she’s a multi-faceted woman – and she’s not done yet.
In June, Stewart founded Black in business with a team of volunteers. A resource for blacks, the initiative helps those seeking relief, support and guidance in their work. And now the organization is launching the Black in Corporate Virtual Mentorship program.
“We want to put in place a highway for people who may not have access to certain things and certain people, because they are most likely, from a generational point of view, behind when it comes to wealth,” Stewart said, referring to the path to higher positions. and greater opportunities within American businesses that networking offers. “I use the comparison between a freeway and a dirt road, because, yes, each can get you to exactly the same place, but with a freeway you will get there more easily and with less risk of being deterred.”
Stewart has brought in professionals from a variety of industries including media, entertainment, fashion, art, technology and more (most are at director or vice president level and above) to serve as mentors. Once mentors and mentees are assigned and introduced, the Black in Corporate team will help each pair to schedule two videoconference meetings each month for the duration of the three month program, although both parties are encouraged to nurture the relationship. outside of these sessions. . Stewart says mentors will act as a support system, discussing adversities mentees may encounter in their corporate environment, and work with them to identify measurable career goals, as well as develop action plans for them. achieve.
For Stewart, Black in Corporate undoubtedly grew out of the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, but as a black woman building a career in a white-dominated industry over the past 10 years at companies like Barneys, Vogue, and Refinery29, the initiative is also a response to personal experience. “I saw my coworkers being propelled forward and it almost felt like I was at a standstill,” says Stewart, recalling a revealing conversation with a former white coworker who revealed he had set up an interview. for the job through one of his father’s contacts.
Black in Corporate is one of many initiatives that have emerged in recent months to address the effects of systemic racism on career advancement, including Black fashion board, co-founded by Teen vogue Lindsay Peoples Wagner editor and journalist Sandrine Charles, and the #PullUpOrShutUp campaign, founded by Sharon Chuter, founder of Uoma Beauty. “I don’t think all of this would have happened if COVID hadn’t happened first,” Stewart says. “I call it ‘perfect chaos’ – COVID has made us stand still and really watch what’s going on.
Those interested in becoming a mentor or mentee will apply for the mentoring program through Black in the company website, for Stewart, social media offers another space to connect directly with young black professionals. Comments Stewart received via the Black in Corporate Instagram account draw attention to the need for mental health support for Black employees in predominantly white corporate environments. Therapy itself is a topic that Stewart says is not discussed often enough in the black community. “You spend more time with your coworkers than with your own family and friends, which in itself has an impact on you when you don’t feel like you have a sense of community within these walls.” , she says.
Mentees under Stewart’s Black in Corporate Virtual Membership Program may rotate within the program, but the idea is that they leave after forming meaningful, lasting and beneficial relationships. The initiative – small but powerful – is just one example of the power social media now has to drive real change.
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