Guest blogger Erica Lewis, North America Co-Leader for our African and African-American Employee Resource Group shares with us how A3 is kicking off Black History Month.

What a way for A3 to kick-off Black History Month! 

A3 has been instrumental in helping Capgemini partner with the IT Senior Management Forum (ITSMF).  ITSMF is an organization which focuses on the development and preparation of African-Americans in IT for senior level and executive roles.  Capgemini attended the ITSMF 1st Quarter Symposium in Atlanta, February 5 – 7.  It was so refreshing to see 200+ African-American IT executives (CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, etc) in one room, exchanging ideas and looking forward, yet at the same time lifting up one another.  What an incredible mentoring and support network!  As a Bronze Level sponsor, Capgemini attended the Awards Ceremony at the symposium.  Among the Capgemini participants were:  Scott Sweet, VP Business Information Management (BIM) and Microsoft Alliance Leader; Janet Pope, NA Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Leader, as well as multiple A3 members from Atlanta and Dallas.  The synergies in the room working together for a common goal had everyone walking away with a renewed spirit of possibilities.  The thought came to mind, “how can we get more of that at Capgemini?” 

“CloseIT … minding the gap, filling the pipeline” was the theme of the ITSMF 1st Qtr Symposium. It resonates and really sums up the direction in which we need to go as it pertains to African-Americans in IT.  First, acknowledge there is a gap.  Let’s face it; Capgemini has a limited number of African-Americans in senior management and executive level roles.  In Capgemini NA, African-Americans make up 3% of the resource pool at the Senior Manager and above level, while representing 4% of the overall Capgemini NA workforce.  However, many companies in the IT industry share similar stats.  Often we see companies recruit A3 talent into the baseline levels of the organization, but tend to be challenged with growing that talent and seeing them progress through the ranks within the company.  However, where there is a gap, there is also an opportunity.  Through A3’s assistance, Capgemini’s partnership with ITSMF introduces an expanded opportunity to tap into the existing pool of African-American IT executives in the industry.  Additionally, ITSMF provides programs to educate and prepare African-Americans seeking those IT executive roles.  It is A3’s goal to assist Capgemini with identifying candidates to nominate for the ITSMF program as a means of continuously filling the pipeline.  

Surely, we can’t only focus on executive level talent.  We need to start the process of introducing the IT industry to young people in our communities, very early on.  A3 recognizes this need and is responding.  As a result of Christopher Buck (Government Solutions) reaching into the community, the Atlanta A3 affiliate recently spoke with students at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, on the topic of “Diversity in Technology”.  The questions of “What is IT?” and “What is IT Consulting?” were explored.  Emphasis was placed on the fact that we all touch IT in most aspects of our lives every day.  It was also stressed that you don’t have to have a background in computer technology to succeed in the IT industry.    This fact was demonstrated through an exercise conducted with the students.  First, the group came up with an idea for an app that doesn’t currently exist.  They decided there is a need for a “Group Facetime” app (interesting).  Then, the group was divided into sub-teams and was given the task to come up with a proposal of why a potential client should hire them to create the app.  They were advised to focus on why the app is needed, how the app would be used, and why the client would want to work with their team.  The sub-teams also had to come up with a team name and a slogan.  In true consulting format, each sub-team had to identify a team leader, timekeeper, scribe, and a presenter.  Teams were given only 10 minutes to complete the exercise.  The student presentations were AMAZING (and that is putting it lightly)!  They really demonstrated their ability to think outside of the box and work as a team.  The experience was not only fulfilling for the students, but for the A3 presenters, as well. Pictures from this event:

“CloseIT … minding the gap and filling the pipeline” is really what it is all about. A3 is excited about working with its sister ERGs and the entire Capgemini community to “mind the gap and fill the pipeline”.  We all stand to benefit.  The momentum stirring around is encouraging, especially as we acknowledge February as Black History Month.  It is a little known fact that many of the advancements in IT are due to innovations from African-Americans and Africans.  A3 will highlight some of those contributions across social media to educate the Capgemini community throughout the month.  Be on the lookout for some interesting little known black history facts.  Remember, it’s not just Black History, it’s Our History.  Let’s fill the pipeline and close the IT gap!

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