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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Working while Black: New book discusses the challenges, pressures of working as a Black professional in Corporate America

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Corporate America leaves behind Black professionals and Papa Niang knows first-hand what it’s like. 

Having faced daily challenges of reckoning with betrayal and racism as a Black professional, Niang wrote a book discussing the challenges and pressures of working in corporate America called “Pulling Back the Curtains: From Growing up in Africa to Working as a Black Professional in Corporate America.”  

Growing up in Senegal, West Africa, Niang immigrated to the United States with only $1000 in his pocket in pursuit of higher education. Niang earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from Indiana University and has worked at Cummins Inc. for more than 15 years. 

It’s his hope that Black people will gain greater support in their communities and that more bystanders become allies after picking up a copy.  

“We have leaders that are very open and want to support diversity, equity and inclusion. But the problem is, it may just be something that people brag about and don’t really support,” Niang said. 

While big tech companies are hiring more people of color, Black professionals are still underrepresented in leadership and management positions. When there is a lack of diversity in companies, he said, it can be hard for Black professionals to “pull each other up” and support each other. Fixing the pipeline for Black professionals is not only the right thing to do, it also increases profit by up to 32%, according to Harvard Business Review. 

In order to bridge the gap for Black professionals in corporate America, companies need to take action and follow through with the rhetoric that they support, he said. A way to start is by examining diversity statistics in offices and companies and seeing how they match up with the population. 

“Diversity adds value,” Niang said. “And we do have people that are capable. Let’s create the pipeline to get people where they need to be so that they are represented.” 

Niang’s book is out on Amazon. 

Contact staff writer Jayden Kennett at 317-762-7847 or by email jaydenk@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @JournoJay.

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