Investing in the Careers of Underrepresented Employees

Providing access to career development coaching is a powerful way to create a sense of belonging and close the opportunity gap.

Training Magazine

Through my work as a career coach, a question I often hear is, “how can leaders best support employees who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)?” According to a national study by Coqual, a global nonprofit think tank, only 40 percent of employees of all races think their companies have effective diversity and inclusion programs.

Hiring, developing, and retaining BIPOC employees is a crucial challenge for employers. The data speaks for itself. As a Black woman in corporate America and the founder of Twenty Ten Agency, a career coaching company, I set my intention to help employees advance and retain their underrepresented employees.

Are You Ready to Close the Opportunity Gap for Underrepresented Employees?

For employers who want to create a sense of belonging and close the opportunity gap for their diverse talent, my advice is to invest in your underrepresented employees’ career development. An impactful way to do this is by providing access to career development coaching.

Most early to mid-level employees have not had an opportunity to collaborate with a coach. However, working with a coach is a powerful catalyst for career advancement. Day in and day out, I see firsthand that so many people of color are facing unprecedented turmoil and anguish directly impacting their work. We did not create the workplace challenges and inequities resulting from systemic racism. Not everyone’s experience is the same. Underrepresented professionals need support after they’re hired to provide the opportunity to continue to thrive and advance.

If you lead a diverse team, coaching provides an invaluable investment. Coaching provides a platform to engage and support the careers of your BIPOC employees. One-to-one or group career coaching programs accelerate career advancement and help close the opportunity gap for diverse talent with bespoke professional development strategies designed to deliver lasting results.

If you want to convey that the careers of underrepresented professionals matter at your company, there’s an immediate step you can take today. Invest in your employee network groups by providing access to one-to-one or group career coaching to accelerate advancement and promotion.

The Benefits of Investing in Career Coaching

Coaching delivers long-lasting results. A career coach can help professionals develop new goals and skills, make better decisions and improve their relationships with coworkers. Coaching is action-oriented and forward-looking, which results in strategies that advance opportunities and careers. In addition, employees feel heard, seen, and supported. Coaching provides a safe space to solve problems with an objective expert and invested in your success.

For employers, it’s a win-win. However, access to coaching is often reserved for the most senior employees at a company. This is an example of an opportunity gap that holds BIPOC professionals back. This needs to change.

Career coaching can unlock a broad range of benefits for employers by accelerating the advancement of employees, boosting morale, solving coworker challenges, improving performance, and increasing retention rates. In addition, coaching helps identify and develop high potential employees while motiving and empowering individuals to excel. Furthermore, it demonstrates an organizational commitment to human resource development.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) surveyed coaching clients about the value and use of coaching. Eighty percent of people who receive coaching reported increased self-confidence, and over 70 percent benefited from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. 86 percent of companies said they recouped their investment in coaching.

If you lead a diverse team, you have a vital opportunity to make a difference. To best support your underrepresented employees at work, invest in their career goals and advancement today and in the future.

Octavia Goredema is the founder of Twenty Ten Agency, a career coaching company and the author of PREP, PUSH, PIVOT: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women. For more information visit