‘Equity At Work’ Returns in 2022 to Address Practice of College Degree Requirements

Associated Black Charities (ABC) is pleased to host their third session of Equity at Work, a webinar series featuring conversations for, by, and about the Black workers of Maryland. “Are College Degrees A Racialized Barrier To Economic Mobility for Black Workers” will be held on Thursday, March 3rd from 6 to 7:30 pm. The online event is hosted in partnership with The Choice Program at UMBC, which provides engaging programming, connection to resources, and holistic case management to youth in Maryland’s communities. Registration, which may be found on abc-md.org, is free and supported in part by BD Life Sciences.

The session will be moderated by ABC’s CEO Diane Bell-McKoy and will feature Maryland-based thought leaders from sectors of higher education, workforce development, and policymaking. Some of the questions they will share perspectives on include: How does a degree requirement for skills-based work create a racialized outcome for Black workers? What are the barriers of implementation to changing the current system? And how many years of experience in a job is equivalent to the experience of a new college graduate? The guest panel is slated to include Dr. Brandy Carter, Executive Director of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland; Christopher Dews, Senior Policy Advocate for Job Opportunities Task Force; Eric Ford, Executive Director of The Choice Program at UMBC; and Jason Perkins-Cohen, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. Questions from the audience will also be welcome.

Regarding the vision behind Equity at Work’s latest topic, Diane Bell-McKoy shared that “It is important to understand the facts, the data, and the research regarding when college degrees are a valuable tool versus when they can be weaponized as another racialized hurdle for qualified Black and brown individuals. As current hiring practices stand, minimum degree requirements for skills-based work prevent these workers from economic mobility, as well as prevent employers from gaining valuable additions to their team. As stated by Ruha Benjamin, often ‘Blackness is associated with cultural deficiencies, poverty, and pathology’. These myths undermine the economic mobility for Black and brown workers. It is time for us to challenge the myth that Black people are “broken.”