Socially Responsible Career Development of Black Males for Workplace Success

by David P. Newman

What is Socially Responsible Career Development (SRCD)?
I define Socially Responsible Career Development (SRCD) as a process using the complex application of career/life growth skills, practices and policy creation used to develop a diverse individual or group resulting in sustainable, beneficial positive outcomes; and applied systemically in the workplace, with minimal impact on the environment, government, business and community resources.

Current data from many surveys reveal notable statistics on the plight of African-American black males. The incarceration and fatalities of black males is costly to taxpayers, destroys black family life and presents no social benefit. "Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or in prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison." (E. Eckholm, 2006). In criminal activities, potentially positive skill applications can cause harm and cost society. In 2003, the annual incarceration cost per inmate was $25,327. (U.S Dept. of Justice, 2003) Without effective employee role models disadvantaged black males will be prone to repeat failure in much the same way as when public policy changes diminishes funds and services for social welfare programs.

Career development professionals can impact the lives of black males and serve as change agents to empower business leaders on the issue. The Socially Responsible Career Development model combines best practices from my almost 30 years work experience in the field providing career and vocational services to diverse individuals and employers. It is potentially of great value for black males, business, career counselors, society and other diverse populations.

Social welfare agencies already provide a level of SRCD services. However, they're restricted by time limits, inadequate resources and policy changes. The results often don't reflect the best investment in human capital and applied professional practices. Shifts in government policy, foundation priorities and diminishing resources often cause intended beneficiaries to fail and fall victim back into poverty and despair.

How do Black Males and Employers Benefit from SRCD for Workplace Success?
With employers as investors in human potential, SRCD challenges them to play a more proactive role in the development of social welfare that supports workforce diversity and black males.

For businesses to sustain themselves as profitable entities and be perceived as non-threatening to black males, employers must adopt supportive policies and attitudes in the hiring and retention if they are to be successful with this population. By doing so, employers will gain potential workers with skills that might otherwise be put to use in a life of crime.

Using SRCD practices such as coaching, career counseling, mentoring, skills training and role modeling, disadvantaged black males will experience workplace success that will help them become productive workers, develop positive life-building skills and academic and vocational achievements. Skilled occupations such as bookkeepers, managers, customer service, sales agents, marketing planners and much more, reflect skills many black males can apply on-the-job and be successful with SRCD support.

Removing administrative hiring policy restrictions such as employment barriers to success, and retaining skilled employees as mentors, coaches and skill-trainers in all aspects of the workplace culture, creates a welcoming environment for black male job candidates. A key element for new employer change is to not discriminate against black male job candidates for having a criminal past when those offenses don't impact the appropriate uses of skills on the job.

With SRCD, using highly skilled paid employees in roles as assigned mentors, coaches and skill-trainers, will increase black male employee skills and effectiveness, while developing positive behaviors and workplace leadership. Internal SRCD practices develop new workers faster and may increase employee loyalty to the organization. This is a tremendous benefit to black males who currently have few promising prospects.

Application of the SRCD model benefits employers through enhanced workplace diversity, effective and efficient use of resources, the development of stable African-American families, reduced social welfare costs, and lower criminal justice recidivism rates. It supports career counselors with the model as a tool to direct the career counseling process and skills to assist the career needs of black males while using the career counselor as a unique resource for employers. And it creates newly productive black male tax paying role models who support their families.

The Socially Responsible Career Development Model:
The Socially Responsible Career Development model offers the following:
Career Counselors who can:

  • educate employers on the SRCD model and it's applications to help black male workers.
  • contract to consult with employers to develop internal career development systems and tracking elements, to support identified model employees as coaches, mentors and skills-trainers for black male trainees.
  • assist black male employees with good career decision-making.
  • in the role of career coach, help black male employees maximize workplace success.
    Employers who will:
  • develop human resource practices that both integrate and develop disadvantaged black males into the workforce as paid employees. Examples might be as bookkeepers, customer service representatives, marketing coordinators, trainers, junior managers and additional growth positions where a college degree is not needed to start.
  • allocate a portion of their annual charitable giving budgets to contract and pay for SRCD services to support black males with life-skills development social services.
  • partner with job training providers to develop necessary formalized job skills training curricula for black male employees to develop workplace proficiency and marketable academic achievement through accredited vocational certification.
  • develop an SRCD program independent of government and/or charitable foundation policies and directives.
    A Program that:
  • will continue for black male employees provided no criminal activities have been uncovered during employment.
  • incorporates the seven principles of the widely observed Kwanzaa celebration (unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith in others) to encourage the non-religious core values appreciated by many black males and their families.

With SRCD applied to business, collaboration works to help black males, maximize resources and save lives.

Eckholm, E. (2006). Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn. The New York Times, March 10, 2006.

U.S. Department of Justice (2003). Federal Prison System - Salaries and Expenses. Pg. 118. Federal Prison Operating Cost Per Inmate Report.

David P. Newman holds a Master of Arts in Career Development, and is an NCDA certified Master Career Development Professional with almost 30 years experience in the field. He is Adjunct Professor with John F. Kennedy University's Master of Arts in Career Development program teaching the Career Counseling for Diverse Populations class, has published related articles, has served on Workforce Investment boards, and is currently a Success Coach with InsideTrack in San Francisco. Newman can be reached at dpn.careers@sbcglobal.net or 510. 332.4150.

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