Supporting your employees and providing them with opportunities for career development is essential for increasing employee satisfaction and retention.

But today, we want to focus on African American employees, who are often underrepresented when it comes to career advancement. 

They need personalized career growth plans that address the dimensions of diversity that affect their career trajectory.

Below, we discuss some best practices when it comes to promoting career development for Black employees.

7 Ways to Promote Career Development for Black Employees

1. Support Entrepreneurial Skills for Career Development

According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, Black workers have higher unemployment and lower wages than other workers. 

They’re also underrepresented in management positions. In fact, as of February 2021, there were only 4 black CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. In 2023, that number increased to eight, the highest since the 500’s debut in 1955.

Screenshot of graph showing Black representation in Fortune 500 companies (Career development for black employees blog)

Image source

So, what actions can employers take to help support Black workers in advancing to leadership and management roles?

One way is to provide them with opportunities and resources to grow professionally. This includes supporting their entrepreneurial aspirations. Understanding how to form an LLC can be invaluable for those interested in starting their own business.

So, provide training modules or information sessions on forming an LLC. This way, you can empower your Black employees to start their own businesses. Thus, fostering an environment of growth and development.

This initiative not only aids in the professional advancement of the individual. But it also contributes positively to the broader Black community. This is achieved by encouraging economic diversity and innovation.

2. Promote Flexible Work Opportunities for Skill & Career Development & Passion Projects

81% of US Black knowledge workers say that they prefer a hybrid blend of on-site and remote work.

So, offering flexible working arrangements can play a huge role in attracting and retaining Black talent.

A healthy work-life balance can also positively impact career advancement for Black employees. 

For instance, when workers can decide their own schedules, they can spend more time on things like learning new skills, working on projects they love, and meeting new people.

Flexible work opportunities increase productivity as well. That’s because flexible schedules help reduce stress, improve job satisfaction, and better work-life integration.  

As a result, Black professionals can better manage their time so that they can focus on tasks that directly contribute to their career goals.

Being able to work remotely also gives employees access to opportunities that may not be available in traditional office settings. For example, Black professionals can live abroad and collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds and geographical locations through video meetings.

It’s important to understand the difference between contractor vs employee when supporting this opportunity.

Choosing a contractor job gives workers the flexibility to explore opportunities in other countries. This helps Black employees who want to live abroad follow their specific needs and goals.

This adaptive approach aligns with the changing dynamics of remote work and reflects a commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion.

By understanding and leveraging these differences, you can actively support the global aspirations of Black professionals. Thus, creating a more inclusive and internationally diverse workforce.

3. Provide Financial Wellness Support & Resources

Blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented in jobs that pay low wages or that lack benefits packages. Because of this, they lack access to retirement savings and wellness programs.

This presents an opportunity for employers to offer support to narrow the racial wealth gap. They can achieve this by tailoring financial wellness resources to address the unique challenges Black workers face.

For instance, you could hold training sessions and workshops led by successful Black professionals and experts. They understand the special financial challenges faced by the Black community.

You can also provide access to opportunities that help Black workers build skills for career advancement.

This might include investing in their education, such as a master’s degree.

By building valuable skills, Black workers can secure better-paying positions. This contributes to financial stability and enables better decision-making when it comes to family wealth planning. And this includes things such as home ownership or investments.

Speaking of home ownership, helping employees purchase homes is yet another way to promote financial wellness for Black workers.

As of 2024, the homeownership rate for African Americans is 44.1%. Statistically, Black individuals are less likely to own homes than other underrepresented groups, including Hispanic or Asian Americans.  

a graph showing the homeownership rates from 2012-2022 by race in the US

Image source

And homeownership is a significant aspect of Black generational wealth. To help employees purchase a home, you can offer job benefits that include a home buyer program.

Check with your state or community to see if they offer Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs. These can help to help increase homeownership in underserved areas.

4. Offer Mentoring & Sponsoring Opportunities

Mentorship programs can be invaluable in helping you promote career advancement for Black employees. 

Your senior leaders who have more experience and influence can mentor and sponsor Black professionals early in their careers to help them grow and develop. Mentors can help your Black employees set goals, build networking skills, and overcome challenges.

You can also provide sponsorship opportunities that go beyond mentoring. Sponsors actively advocate for and promote the career advancement of Black professionals.

They do this by endorsing mentees for promotions and key assignments. As a result, sponsorship is crucial for opening doors for leadership roles, board positions, and other career-enhancing opportunities.

If there are Black leaders in your organization, consider choosing them as mentors and sponsors. Black professionals thrive more when led by individuals who can better understand and identify with them.

That’s why 57% of Black professionals prefer a mentor or sponsor from a similar background. This is so they can speak freely about their professional growth and experiences. It also helps to be able to talk openly about racial and equity issues.

Screenshot of a statistic about black mentorship preferences

Image source

5. Foster a Culture of Belonging & Inclusion

Before a person can advance, they must belong. So, make sure you provide a safe space for your Black workers. Do this by cultivating belonging and inclusion.

It all starts with your senior leadership. They should be modeling behaviors that promote inclusion and belonging.

These behaviors include active listening, recognition, empathy and support, education, and open communication.

Consider using Ongig’s Text Analyzer tool to address any bias in your communications practices. You can also use it to promote a more inclusive and equitable work environment for all employees.

Another way to foster a sense of belonging for Black professionals within your workforce is to offer employee resource groups (ERGs).

These groups are precious because they allow people with shared identities and interests to unite. This gives employees a safe space to openly discuss their challenges, feelings, opinions, and concerns.

90% of Fortune 500 companies use ERGs as a means of promoting employee engagement strategy. 

Beyond helping organizations cultivate a diverse, inclusive work environment and increase employee engagement, ERGs can also help you:

  • Get key insights into your company’s processes, products, and performance
  • Better understand your Black employees’ needs and perspectives
  • Foster Black employee development and identify leaders
  • Foster open conversations about race, gender, etc.

6. Create Networking Opportunities for Black Workers

When you empower Black talent to make business connections both inside and outside the office, this can lead to promotions or new job opportunities.

Think about setting up inside gatherings where people can network, like mixers or meet-ups. These events let employees from different parts of the company meet and chat in a casual setting.

Cross-cultural networking events can bring together employees from diverse backgrounds. This includes Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. Also, this allows Black professionals to expand their networks beyond their immediate circles.

You can also offer workshops and training sessions to address the career development needs of Black employees. Consider covering topics like personal branding, networking strategies, leadership development. Also, consider how to navigate corporate culture as a person of color.

7. Invest in Career Coaching

A career coach can help Black employees develop new goals and skills. Coaching differs from mentoring and sponsoring in that it offers personalized support and skill development.

It’s more action-oriented and provides employees with a safe space to solve problems with an objective expert who’s invested in their success. 

Incorporating learning experience platforms into career coaching can offer your black employees access to a wide range of personalized learning paths. In effect, this further enriches their development journey and prepares them for leadership roles. 

Unfortunately, senior employees are the only ones with access to career coaching opportunities in many organizations. 

You can change this now by making it available to everyone at your workplace, especially for a population as underserved as the Black community.

Coaching helps employees build self-confidence, boost productivity, improve work performance, and develop more effective communication skills. 

And it can help your business as a whole achieve higher revenue and income growth than your competitors.

Screenshot of inforgraphic showing the ROI of business coaching

Image source

Why I Wrote This:

Supporting career advancement for Black employees should be a part of every company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. 

It’s a great way to attract and retain Black workers. Because they see that you’re actively offering support and resources to help them grow in their careers.

At Ongig, we’re constantly developing ways to help employers promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce. 

Our Text Analyzer platform eliminates bias and improves job description text to help you attract a diverse pool of candidates and reduce barriers to entry for underrepresented groups, including Black professionals. Request a demo, today!

Author Bio:

Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.

by in Diversity and Inclusion