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New program aims for more Black women to be certified problem solvers

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Joy Mason knows it’s not right to jump ahead to solutions before clearly defining what the problem is. That’s why when Mason found it difficult to expand her team at the consulting firm she started, she had to take a step back and figure out where the issue was.

Mason didn’t want just anyone joining her at Optimist Business Solutions. She wanted people — Black women specifically — who are certified problem solvers through Six Sigma, as she is.

Mason said one of the most common barriers for Black women to get certified through Six Sigma and other similar programs is the process usually goes through whatever corporate office they work for, meaning it’s typically a white male supervisor deciding who’s worthy of the training.

The first cohort of the Six Sigma Racial Equity Initiative. (Photo provided by Joy Mason)

Mason wanted to remove the “gatekeeper,” so she started the Six Sigma Racial Equity Initiative, a program for Black female professionals to earn a green belt certification.

The program includes six classes — one each day for six weeks — and ends with a test and project. The first cohort includes 12 women and will end in December. Mason said the next cohort will start in April 2022 because she has to do more fundraising to offset the cost for participants. The program usually costs $2,200 per person, but members in the first cohort paid $299.

Mason said part of her motivation to start the initiative was a commitment she made at the beginning of the year to speak up more for equity wherever she’s involved.

“If I’ve got influence, you’re gonna hear me talk about equity,” she said.

Sponsors for the program are Cummins, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), Engaging Solutions, Black Onyx Management and InnoPower.

Pamela Ross, vice president of opportunity, equity and inclusion at CICF, said it was important for the foundation to support Mason because she’s helping Black women reach their full potential.

“That’s how you create access,” she said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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