After years of attending networking events, executive professionals Lyndsay Christian, Joi Adams, Shawanda Green and Ericka Hatfield were fed up with the absence of women of color. As the women climbed their respective corporate ladders, they noticed fewer and fewer fellow black women at the mid to senior career level.
The team of four decided that yes, women of color needed a seat at the table, but they also observed that they needed to be able to bring others to the table as well. In April 2017, Bougie Bunch Group (The BB Group) was formed. It began as a solution: Black women could tap into a face-to-face support system in a comfortable environment.
Today, it's evolved beyond creating connections and has become a safe space that fosters lasting relationships. The BB Group serves as a national resource and platform to uplift, encourage and support women in their professional development and entrepreneurial endeavors while connecting them across various cities and industries. Together, black women learn about job opportunities and local events, all while supporting small businesses.
"Our brunch is different from other events in that we offer every woman a chance to highlight her career or promote her business during round-robin style introductions," said Hatfield. "This allows for an enhanced networking experience, while at other events, you may only hear from the speakers."
Though the group is a haven for diverse female professionals at the mid to senior career level, they also encourage young women to attend their events.
"It’s ideal — and important — that young women also network and plant seeds for job opportunities," Hatfield added.
The BB Group also hopes to serve as a solution for the common narrative within corporate America that there isn’t diverse talent at the executive level because qualified candidates can’t be identified. The group agrees that all too often, organizations fail to provide black women with the tools for professional development.
"As women of color climb the corporate ladder and build their brand, there are many obstacles and few resources. It made sense to form The BB Group to allow women to connect with one another... and corporate sponsors."
Google, L’Oreal, Etsy and Young & Rubicam are just a few of The BB Group’s corporate sponsors, turning to them as the go-to organization for identifying mid to senior level diverse talent. These companies recognize diversity and inclusion is only effective when a true pipeline is formed to ensure no woman of color is left behind, and host various events and hiring initiatives catered towards the network.
Encouraging women of color to donate their money, time and resources, The BB Group recently created a philanthropic arm. Bougie Blessings spotlights a non-profit organization at The BB Group that empowers, benefits and helps communities of color. Through this initiative, attendees can donate to the organization during the brunch and make connections with nonprofits in search of diverse volunteers and board members.
In addition to their regular brunches the group just celebrated their one-year anniversary in New York City on August 11th. Bougie Blessings supported PowHERful Foundation (co-founded by Soledad O'Brien) at the event.
In the near future, The BB Group hopes to innovate by building a digital platform through which those in their network can communicate with other like-minded professionals. They also have a goal of partnering with more Fortune 500 companies and organizations.
"We deserve a seat at the table, just as our counterparts. What we stand for isn’t a fad nor a moment, but one that will last for generations to come."
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