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Why I will become the black mentor I have never had as my mission
Published by: JustinPit (16) on Thu, Sep 2, 2021  |  Word Count: 925  |  Comments ( 0)  l  Rating
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A partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers who broke down barriers said that the key to increasing representation is not just recruitment: it needs to commit to training and planning to promote black talent to leadership roles.
When I walked into the PwC Houston office as an intern 22 years ago, I was convinced that public accounting was for me. I didn't know at the time that high school accounting courses would put me on the road of public accounting. I like it and I am good at it-even participating in state competitions in accounting competitions.
In the end, fate attracted me to PricewaterhouseCoopers because they were willing to take risks on me as a young intern. During that internship, something just happened; I was attracted by the people, culture and work here, and I felt that I was really part of the team. But there are also things that make me feel potential frustration: I am one of only two blacks on the court.
Nearly 17 years later, I became the first black male promoted to partner in our Houston office. The day I became a partner changed my life. Realizing that with this title and the resources provided for this role, I can make important and influential decisions not only for myself and my family, but also for other people, their loved ones, and the community, which is great .
Becoming a partner is not something I initially envisioned for myself. Once I embark on this path, it is certainly not without challenges. My parents asked me to work hard, finish the job, and then move on to the next task, and I have to work harder-raise my hand, build my network, and stay confident. I have done it. Part of the reason is that it is difficult. There are very few leaders who look like me. Fortunately, I have supporters who have invested in my success. In addition to my own hard work and performance, I also thank these mentors for helping me enter the partnership track and thrive there.


Building representatives did not happen overnight
Diversity of employees in public accounting has improved, but like many industries, it still has a long way to go—especially when it comes to recruiting and cultivating black talent. In 2018, ethnic minorities accounted for 29% of all professionals in public accounting firms. However, only 4% of the fresh graduates who were hired by certified public accounting firms that year were considered black. In terms of leadership, the diversity gap remains the most pronounced—in 2018, 91% of the partners hired by CPA firms were white.
It takes time to build representativeness, and hiring professionals of different races and ethnicities is not enough. For an organization, it requires a commitment to accountability and leadership-driven initiatives. For individuals, it needs a support system: companies can help retain black talents and promote them to leadership roles through development opportunities, frequent feedback, and most importantly, intentional guidance.

I define a mentor as someone who uses his professional and social capital to open the door to others. I believe that mentors are vital to making the workplace fairer. If the company wants more diverse senior leaders, all of us have a responsibility to fund our black talents in these roles.
My mentor journey
My own mentor experience changed my career trajectory and ultimately changed my life. Now, I want to share what I have learned with other mentors seeking to improve black talents. This is why it is my mission to give back and mentor young aspiring black professionals.
Blacks make up 12% of the total population, but we only hold 3.2% of leadership roles in large American companies. Although the number of black college and university graduates has increased, only 8% of managers and less than 4% of CEOs are black. Currently, there are only 4 black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, down from 12 in 2002.
I think an important reason for this situation is that the company failed to provide adequate support systems for black employees early in their careers. This is why it is so important to have the leader in your corner when you start.
When I was a second-year senior assistant, a partner of the company said that he respected my professional ethics and put me under his protection. That was the beginning of an important mentoring relationship. He taught me some lasting courses, which I now pass on to my students.
When you get up to go to work, you represent yourself and your company. I must learn to embody the presence of executives. My mentor told me that when you walk into a room, you must pay attention to the way you present and carry yourself. In other words, you must dress according to the situation, follow the instructions of senior leaders, and keep the inside of the bag neat and clean when you carry it. For me, the existence of an executive is to dress up for the role you want and the role you have, and to be proud of it.
A good leader will guide, teach and encourage. A good leader will work as hard as his or her subordinates and provide them with the tools they need to succeed. I am very proud of PwC’s new commitment, which will not only provide black and Latino college students with digital and career preparation skills to help them start their careers, but also give our employees the opportunity to take this journey Instruct and motivate these students.
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