People of Color Careers launching online to create equitable access to jobs

(FOX 9) - The organizer behind an effort to promote diversity in Minnesota’s workforce is launching a new initiative. The goal is to ensure professionals of color have equitable access to career opportunities.

“I believe that Minnesota can be a great region for all of us. I really believe that,” said Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, the founder of the People of Color Career Fair.

Smith-Akinsanya is now working on a new online platform committed to closing the unemployment gap among people of color in Minnesota.

“I focus on making sure that professionals of color get connected to those employers who are serious about increasing racial inclusivity at all levels of their organizations,” said Smith-Akinsanya.

In October, she’ll launch People of Color Careers. The site will link job seekers to openings, and directly connect them to hiring managers and recruiters.

“I want to make sure that those professionals know right away that these opportunities are out there because our employment rate among black professionals and other professionals of color is two to four times that of white counterparts and it’s so critical that I make sure that professionals get that information,” said Smith-Akinsanya.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, as of mid-May nearly 39 percent of Black or African American workers in the Twin Cities metro applied for unemployment. That’s more than double the rate for whites.

“The reason why these inequities exist is that we haven’t taken the time to fix it,” said Smith-Akinsanya. “We just need to decide.”

Working to level the playing field, Smith-Akinsanya says that so far, more than 20 businesses have committed to the platform including Andersen Windows & Doors and U.S. Bank.

“We need our policymakers and our C-Suite CEOs to really step up and make some decision,” said Smith-Akinsanya. “We need you to just decide that you want more diversity at the highest levels of your organization and just do it.”

Governor Tim Walz says that this program, which launches October 20, will play a critical role in advancing equity in the workforce.

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