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National Executive Leadership Academy aims to develop Black executive leaders

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that Black people hold only 3% of executive or senior-level positions across all U.S. organizations with 100 or more employees.

The Executive Leadership Academy, a component of The Advanced Leadership Institute, is expanding nationally to increase the number of Black executives in the workforce. (Photo Credit: Adobe Stock)



The Executive Leadership Academy is expanding and going national as it continues to help fill the need for Black executive leaders.

ELA, a component of The Advanced Leadership Institute, has been around for five years, helping to prepare Black professionals for leadership positions in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The expanded National ELA continues that competitive program, training Black executives nationwide for executive growth on a national and international scale, according to a press release. With the expansion, participants can undergo training in a hybrid style of online and in-person instruction to suit their various needs and schedules.

“I am encouraged that this endeavor we embarked upon five years ago has been so successful and is positively impacting our participants, their companies, and the broader community,” TALI’s CEO and president Evan Frazier said in a statement. “The Executive Leadership Academy has been instrumental in addressing an important need to promote Black leadership diversity, and we are eager to continue building on this critical work through the National program.”

The academy uniquely tackles particular issues that Black professionals encounter in the workplace, each year selecting people with at least 10 years of experience to take part. Participants gain from having executive coaches and mentors to assist in fusing academic theory with practical applications.

According to McKinsey & Company just four, or approximately 1%, of the senior executives of America’s Fortune 500 firms are Black. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that Black people hold only 3% of executive or senior-level positions across all U.S. organizations with 100 or more employees.

CEOs, recruiters and senior executives say that Black professionals encounter more challenges early in their careers, are judged harsher than their peers and typically lack the connections necessary for development. They often are assigned to marketing or human resources positions once they reach the C-suite rather than the profit-and-loss posts that act as stepping stones.

Ron Williams, a Black former CEO of Aetna, has held over a dozen board positions throughout his career and currently serves on the boards of Boeing Co. and American Express Co., among others. He asserts that “opportunity is not equally distributed.” Too many company promotions are made without formal hiring processes, he says, denying Black people and other underrepresented individuals the chance to compete.

“People don’t get the chance to work their way into a position where they are a reasonable candidate for a role,” he added, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Since TALI’s inception, 154 professionals have finished one of its two leadership programs — the Executive Leadership Academy or Emerging Leaders Program — according to the news release. Ninety percent of Executive Leadership Academy alums who graduated from a TALI program by 2022 reported growing as leaders personally and professionally.

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