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Local leadership program for Black women tackles talent inequities

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There’s a new innovative leadership program designed to upskill Black women to become complex problem solvers. The Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute is building a talent pipeline through accredited Six Sigma Green Belt training.

In addition to the training, participants earn their certification by applying their new skills to inequities that impact the Black community and workforce. 

Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute Inc was founded by Joy E. Mason CSSBB. The Institute started as a training program of Joy’s firm, Optimist Business Solutions. Optimist helps executive leaders achieve better outcomes by applying process improvement, change management, and Six Sigma strategies. 

In Spring 2021, racial unrest and demands for equity were at the forefront. During that time, Joy’s sense of purpose and urgency drove her to leverage her skills to advance racial equity. Joy believed that a framework typically used in corporate settings could also be used to address racial inequities. 

The framework is to define, measure, analyze, improve and control (also known as ‘Six Sigma’). Joy believed that Six Sigma could be an ideal method for combining community voice, process thinking, and data analysis to tackle racial inequities across sectors. 

The Black community is oftentimes the most harmed by inequitable policies, resulting in low education attachment, poor health outcomes, low wages, and high unemployment.

Black women earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. As a result of these disproportionately poor outcomes, the Institute focuses on the group with the most need. 

The Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute™ Six Sigma Green Belt program trains and certifies 12-15 women per year. The women create 5 teams to tackle 5 equity projects. The equity projects are submitted by sector leaders in Indianapolis. A few project examples are:

Project 1 – FAFSA Completion Equity Gaps

Participants – Tamara Winfrey-Harris, Tracey Dotson, and Vicky Bond:   Coaches – Marcya Carter-Sheats, 

The project goal was to identify the root cause of why Black students supposedly complete the FAFSA at lower rates than their peers and identify ways to increase the number/percentage of Black students completing the FAFSA.

Project 2 – Inequitable Time for Housing

Participants – Sharvonne Williams, Katrina DeBow, Shawnta Beverly   Coaches – Vivian Taylor, Harzell Walker, 

The project goal was to determine why Black/African American female-led households were supposedly spending more time in a local shelter compared to their White counterparts.

Project 3 – WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Sales

Participants –  Elana Thompson, Crystal Wilmot, Danielle Blake:   Coaches – Ayodele Sasore, Henry Malm,

The project goal was to increase WIC utilization at a local market. The market was approved as a WIC vendor in 2020 but struggled to attract WIC recipients.

Project 4 – District Communication Bounce-backs

Participants –  Brittany Marcus MaCie’ Moore, Shamika Anderson:   Isaac Hughley, Aisha Goens

Addresses in the student information system generated instances where mailings and communications were not successful in reaching the intended audience. These ‘bounce-backs’ adversely impacted communication regarding textbook rental, free and reduced lunch, and transportation. 

Project 5 – Prompt Payment Efficiency

Coaches & Participants – Samia Kamran, Christopher Walker, Sharleigh Allen, Jay Styles, Sydney Rucker

The project goal was to reduce the timeframe from contract work completion to receipt of payment. From May 2021 to May 2022, it was estimated that the timeframe to pay contractors routinely exceeded 30 days. Cash flow is adversely impacted by delayed payments for many small diverse businesses and can result in delayed payroll or restrict the ability to bid on future opportunities. 

The Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute™ is determined to tackle inequities one woman at a time and one project at a time. Please visit www.sixsigmaindy.com to learn more. 

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