Having been a start-up lawyer and entrepreneur, I have been asked many of the following questions over the years from entrepreneurs who are starting a company.
Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer and, as lawyers often like to say, “It depends on the circumstances.” But here are my short-hand answers to ten of the most frequently asked start-up questions:
Should I form my company as a C corporation, an S corporation, an LLC, a partnership, or a sole proprietorship?
Start it as an S corporation, unless you have to issue both common stock and preferred stock; in that case, start it as a C corporation. And an S corporation can easily be converted later into a C corporation. LLCs are popular, but can get overly complicated. Partnerships and sole proprietorships are to be avoided because of the potential personal liability to the owners of the business.
Where should I incorporate my business?
The standard answer to this is Delaware, because of its well-developed corporate law. My answer is that it should be the state in which the business is located, as this will save you some fees and complexities. You can always reincorporate later in Delaware.
How much should I capitalize my business with at the beginning?
As much as you can reasonably afford, and definitely enough to carry you for at least 6 to 9 months with no income. What you will find is that it always takes you longer to get revenues, and you will undoubtedly incur more expenses than you anticipated.
How can I come up with a great name for my business?
This is difficult. First, brainstorm with a bunch of different names. Then do a Google search to see what is already taken, and that will eliminate 95 percent of your choices. Make it easy to spell. Make it interesting. Don’t pick a nonsensical name that will leave people wondering what you do. Do a trademark/trade name search on the name you like, then make sure you can purchase the domain name.
What are the biggest challenges to starting a business?
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Some of the challenges you’ll face include—
Shortage of capital and cash flow
• Having a good business plan
• Coming up with a great product or service
• Sticking to it
• Working more than you expected
• Getting through the frustrations of being constantly rejected by customers
• Hiring good employees
• Knowing when to fire bad employees
• Having to wear so many hats
• Managing your time
• Maintaining some kind of work/life balance
What kind of business should I start?
Be sure your business is one that—
You are passionate about
• Is within your reach to fund
• Has the potential to grow into something big in a reasonable time frame
• You have some experience in
What are the biggest mistakes made by start-up entrepreneurs?
Not starting with enough capital
• Thinking that success will come quickly
• Not carefully budgeting
• Not focusing on the quality of the product or service
• Underestimating the importance of sales and marketing
• Not adapting quickly enough
• Not understanding the competitive landscape
• Ignoring legal and contract matters
• Hiring the wrong employees
• Mispricing the product or service
Where can I get money for my business?
Many books and articles have been written on this subject, and those resources can be very useful. In short, some of the most effective sources of capital include—
• Credit cards
• Friends and family
• Angel investors
• Crowdsourcing sites, such as Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com
• Bank loans/SBA financings
• Venture capitalists
• Equipment loan financing
What kind of insurance does my business need?
Needs will vary, depending on the type of business, but consider the following:
General liability insurance
• Product liability insurance
• Professional liability insurance
• Property insurance
• Worker’s compensation insurance
• D & O (directors & officers) insurance
• Health insurance for employees
• Business interruption insurance
• Commercial auto insurance
• Data breach insurance
• Key man life insurance
What book is helpful for learning more about starting a business?
About the Author Kelly Bagla has been providing expert legal counsel to domestic and international clients for more than 10 years. As a creator of the Legal Lifecycle program, she knows how to help her clients navigate the legalities of running a business. Kelly specializes in assisting entrepreneurs throughout the various stages of their company’s lifecycle, developing roadmaps that lead their businesses to success, and planning exit strategies that maximize their profits.
Many civilian employers have admitted challenges when it comes to evaluating a veteran during a job interview. This is often because veterans have difficulty explaining how their military experience relates to the needs of the civilian employer. Additionally, while veterans will be quick to praise their team or unit, they are typically not self-boastful in interviews, so civilian employers can often feel like veteran candidates are not “selling themselves.”
It is important to keep in mind that the concept of professional presentation is often different for former military personnel than for civilians. Military personnel (particularly those recently separated/discharged from military service) will often present themselves with eyes forward, back straight and using “Sir” and “Ma’am” vocabulary (often without much smiling). This behavior may be misperceived as cold, distant, unapproachable or demonstrating a lack of social skills. While this is generally not the case, these perceptions have caused many service members to be discarded early in the interview process.
Employers should recognize that former military personnel may need permission to “speak freely” to create a comfort level where they can appear in the most positive light. Hiring managers should be encouraged to be patient with these candidates and to “dig deep” with follow up questions to find qualities that are not apparent at first glance. It is worth remembering that veteran candidates, unlike many civilian candidates, may not be accustomed to interviewing and may require a little latitude.
Know What You Can and Should Not Ask During an Interview
First and foremost, interviewing a veteran or wounded warrior is no different than interviewing any other candidate. It is important to ask all questions of all candidates, without exception. A good interviewing practice is to ask all candidates the following question: “Have you read the job description? Yes or no — can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?” You are not asking the candidate to disclose whether or not they have a disability but are ensuring they can perform the essential functions of the job. In addition, you make it clear that as an employer you understand this process and are not likely to discriminate due to disability.
Great questions to ask veterans can include:
What is in the job description that interests you most?
Can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?
What type of training and education did you receive in the military?
Were you involved in the day-to-day management of people or supplies?
Questions you should NEVER ask veterans include:
What type of discharge did you receive?
Are you to be called up for duty anytime soon?
Did you experience any combat operations?
How could you leave your family while you were deployed?
Have you ever killed anyone?
Do you have post-traumatic stress disorder?
Making a Decision
If you feel like the veteran you interviewed for the position is simply not the right fit, you shouldn’t feel obligated to hire a veteran just because they are veteran. However, you do need to take special factors into consideration when it comes to making a final decision on whether you should hire a veteran:
Did the veteran progress throughout his/her military career?
Identify the strengths such as leadership, accountability and team building
Look for compatibility — did the veteran match their military skills with the position?
Remember veterans have a myriad of soft skills, like leadership and flexibility
Veterans possess skills that can make them some of your best employees
Make sure that whatever your decision for hiring, that you hire the veteran because they are the best candidate. In the end, it will be the most beneficial to the employer and employee alike.
Sources: Obama White House Archives, Department of Veteran Services Ohio
If you’re a business owner, then you may already be aware of the basics of Veteran-Owned (VOBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOBE) business certifications. But going through the process to actually obtain the certification can be daunting, especially when considering the paperwork and fees that often go into the process. However, even if your business is thriving by your standards, earning your certification can take your business to new heights. Some of the benefits that certification can bring to your business include:
Money is helpful no matter what kind of business you run, and certification opens the doors to funding opportunities that other businesses can’t access. Every year the government puts aside 23 percent of all of their contracts for small businesses, with 3 percent of that total going specifically towards VOBE and SDVOBE businesses. However, to be eligible to compete for these funds, you have to be a VOBE or SDVOBE certified business. Depending on the network you use to earn your certification, you may also become eligible for other funding opportunities through your certifier.
Businesses work with other companies all the time, but what a lot of people don’t know is that big name, Fortune 500 companies are often looking to work with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses to increase their supplier diversity efforts. To find these small businesses, these companies go directly to small business certifiers like NAVOBA, the SBA and the VA. When you become VOBE or SDVOBE certified, you will be given access to networking opportunities that could gain you a deal with some of the biggest businesses in the country. These kinds of partnerships can lead to an increase of sales and publicity. Some of the top corporations who have dedicated their efforts to work with veteran-owned businesses include USAA, JPMorgan, FedEx, Lowe’s, T-Mobile, Hilton, Ford and many more.
Even if you aren’t looking for government funding or corporate partnerships, certification can still benefit your business in tremendous ways. By becoming certified, you gain access to courses, classes, conferences and networking opportunities that can help you grow your business in every aspect. Through whichever certifier you choose, you can learn the best methods of filing your business taxes, handling payroll, marketing your brands, working with social media and so much more.
Being certified not only allows you to connect with big-name companies but to other veteran-owned businesses and the customers that support them. When you become certified, you have the perfect platform for connecting with other veterans on their entrepreneurial journey. This can lead to potential business partnerships, mentoring opportunities or even just friendships with other veterans.
So How Do I Get Started?
If the benefits of becoming certified are enticing, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by what may be required of you, remember that you are not alone. If hundreds of veteran-owned businesses across the country can become certified, then you can too. To simplify the process, start with our preparation guide.
Choose the certification that’s right for you. This will depend on your business and your needs.
For those interested in federal contracts, try:
The Department of Veterans Affairs: vetbiz.va.gov/vip
For those interested in private contracts, try:
National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA): apps.adaptone.com/navoba
National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC): nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page
Gather your documents. The kinds of documents you need will depend on your specific program, but just about any certifier you choose will need the following:
Government issued ID
Past tax returns
Articles of organization or incorporation
VA Disability Documentation (SDVOSB certification)
Utilize your certifying organization’s contacts. If you run into any trouble during the application process or just need clarity on what to do next, feel free to reach out to your organization via the email or telephone number provided on their website. They are willing to assist and want to help you get your certification.
Sources: NaVOBA, US Chamber, Fulton Bank, Veteran Owned Business Round Table, Indeed
The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Equity Honors awards are presented to corporate chief officers who have been recognized by their peers as the true leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration.
Submit an application for your CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CDO, and CPO of the Year. All applications* must be started** by Dec. 20 to be considered.
*Qualified applications submitted for The Equity Honors in 2022 have been cloned for consideration for the 2023 Equity Honors. Simply log into the NMSDC Awards Portal and update your application, then submit. Previous winners of The Equity Honors are ineligible to apply again for a minimum of 3 years.
**We will reopen the applications in March of 2023 to collect 2022 comparative data that will complete the application. All applications that have been started by Dec. 20 will constitute The Equity Honors Nominees for 2023 with nominees highlighted on the Forum website and invited to the 2023 Minority Business Economic Forum.
With offices around the world, Bloomberg provides its employees with opportunities to hone their skills and expertise, progress to new roles, take on stretch assignments, and gain valuable insights through their work.
Below, a few of our female leaders share their career experiences, including working in different offices, experiencing new cultures, building support networks, and their advice on how to progress, professionally and personally.
Pictured top left Data training & development
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at multiple offices in different business units and meet amazing colleagues and managers who support me. Most pivotal was probably the move from the Tokyo office to New York as a team leader. The office and business size, language, and lifestyle are so different. I had to learn and adapt. Managers and colleagues in New York welcomed and helped me; colleagues in Tokyo connected me to their networks so that I could build new relationships with people in the US office.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
Always be curious. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you can build connections with and learn from. This year, I’ve taken on a new role, joining the Data Training and Development team in Dubai. When I was in Japan, I never imagined living in Dubai, but new opportunities always come up, as long as we are inquisitive and never stop learning.
Pictured top middle West Africa bureau chief Accra, Ghana
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
Seeking out feedback. Most people find it difficult to give candid feedback, so it helps to show that you’re open to it. Also, training your ear to sift out emotions and other distractions and extracting information you can actually use will help you become a better professional, and person. Both my best managers and closest friends have been people who give helpful feedback. I think that’s a gift.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
I definitely have my community: people who I trust to have my back and who can rely on me to do the same. That comes from investing in relationships over time. So, when you make a strong connection with someone, don’t take that for granted. Build your community.
Pictured top right
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I can’t stress enough how important teamwork is in what we do. Throughout my years at Bloomberg, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing people across different countries and cultures. With each role, you develop new skills and learn from those around you. So even when things feel difficult and challenging, just know you’ll come out stronger on the other side!
What piece of advice would you give to others?
Be open to taking on new challenges. Bloomberg is an exciting place to work, one where you know you can’t get too comfortable in one spot because things change and you might find yourself taking on a different role, or one in a different office, country or continent. In an ever-moving world, we constantly need to reinvent ourselves and learn along the way.
Pictured bottom left Bureau chief
Buenos Aires, Argentina
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I started as an intern in 2015 in New York and in September of that year I moved to Argentina to cover markets, first with a focus on bonds, and later dedicating more time to publicly-traded companies. Since 2019, I’ve overseen Bloomberg’s coverage of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, managing a team of six talented journalists who routinely break news on the biggest stories in the country.
When I look back to things that helped me advance in my career, I think about the importance of being open to new projects and opportunities and putting my hand up to participate. Bloomberg is a very fast-paced environment, where priorities and internal structures change every few years, and it’s important to be flexible and find ways to contribute to the latest projects. In my case, that has meant everything from jumping to cover regional conferences, moderating panel events, doing live radio and TV hits for Bloomberg shows, developing local Spanish-language coverage, and delving into new key coverage areas, like start-ups.
I also feel grateful to my managers and mentors, who encouraged me to get involved with projects beyond my comfort zone, take on different responsibilities, and consider the jump into a management role.
Pictured bottom left Head of China Market Specialists
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
Not shying away from challenges. In my career, I’ve needed to face gaps and problems beyond my primary responsibilities many times. And, while I might not be the expert to solve a problem, I never shy away from it. As long as a challenge is crucial to the business, I always speak up, take full ownership, and move forward to solve it.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
See changes as opportunities. At Bloomberg, changes happen daily. Market, product, even team structure are constantly evolving. I have seen people react negatively to changes, but the ones who can turn changes into opportunities are always rewarded at the end.
Pictured bottom middle Executive editor, Bloomberg News
What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?
A mixture of good luck and hard work. I’m very fortunate to have had supportive bosses throughout my career, who have repeatedly encouraged me to take on new and bigger projects (and helped me find ways to get them done).
For my part, I’ve tried to repay that good will by saying yes to opportunities when they’re offered and then being diligent about getting those things done.
What piece of advice would you give to others?
When you’re looking to change something about your job – whether it’s a new role or a move to a different bureau, you should think about what’s in it for your manager. Or the person you want to be your next manager. The more you can explain how they’ll benefit by giving you what you want, the more likely you are to get it.
The United States is currently experiencing a massive demographic shift, led in large part by the nation’s Latinx population. This group is growing rapidly, quickly becoming the most culturally and economically influential community in the country.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the country’s Hispanic or Latinx population grew from 50.5 million in 2010 (16.3% of the U.S. population) to 62.1 million in 2020 (18.7%). That’s an increase of 23 percent. In fact, slightly more than half (51.1%) of the total U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020 came from growth in the country’s Latinx population.
It is no surprise then, that Latinx people have a massive effect on the U.S. economy. Their buying power is expected to reach $1.9 trillion by 2023, according to a report from Nielsen. This is up from $213 billion in 1990, marking an over 200% growth rate, more than double the growth in buying power of non-Latinx consumers.
This community’s economic influence reaches all industries, and it is critical that businesses gain a deeper understanding of Latinx culture. Doing so will allow business leadership to both better support employees and more effectively appeal to customers.
Hypercultural Latinx people are often first-generation Americans who straddle both U.S. culture and their parents’ native Hispanic cultures. This group feels deeply connected to both aspects of their identities and has, in a sense, created their own blended, hybrid culture. As Ilse Calderon, an investor at OVO Fund, wrote on TechCrunch, a Hypercultural Latinx person is “100% Hispanic and 100% American.”
So, what do they want to buy? While Latinx people are clearly not a monolith, there are a few key trends across the community. According to research in the PwC Consumer
Intelligence Series, the Latinx population is especially enticed by new tech products. They are active on TikTok and exceedingly more likely to use WhatsApp and other social media platforms than other groups.
Nielsen also found that 45% of Latinx consumers buy from brands whose social values and causes align with theirs. This is 17% higher than the general population. Latinx people also share strong family values, as well as pride in their distinct cultural heritages. That is why organizations must engage the Latinx community and invite Latinx people to share their experiences.
It is pivotal that business leaders understand that “Latinx” is not a single streamlined culture. Rather, it is a diverse mix of traditions, nationalities, and values.
Embracing these cultural nuances is a key to understanding Latinx audiences. Organizations must consider methods to appeal to distinct Latinx groups, rather than marketing to the group as a whole.
Cultivating and advancing Latinx talent in the workplace
It isn’t only consumers that businesses should be thinking about. Latinx talent has also accounted for a massive 75% of U.S. labor force growth over the past six years, according to Nielsen. Nevertheless, only 3.8% of executive positions are held by Latinx men, and only 1.5% of are held by Latinx women.
Clearly, companies have a lot of work to do to attract and cultivate Latinx talent—and it all starts with recruitment. To ensure a diverse work force, companies must utilize culturally competent recruitment strategies that not only make new positions appealing to a variety of job seekers, but also give every applicant a fair chance.
According to an article in Hispanic Executive, understanding cultural differences can help recruiters create job descriptions that more effectively appeal to different communities. For example, the Latinx community feels a more communal sense of identity, compared to the more individualistic sense of identity in European-American culture. Recruiters should keep this in mind when thinking about what necessary skills they are highlighting for available roles.
Click here to read the complete article on Bloomberg.
Quickly identifying and treating serious wounds is an age-old problem that’s killed countless soldiers, but it could see a solution in new technology that uses embedded sensors to detect, alert and one day treat injuries.
The Smart Shirt for Wound Detection has been tested by soldiers, airmen and special operations forces recently and could be ready for fielding in the next year, Legionarius chief operating officer and co-founder Dr. Alexander Gruentzig told Army Times.
The shirt was on display at the annual Association of the U.S. Army Meeting and Exposition Monday as one of the recent xTechSearch competition winners.
The government program solicits technology solutions to solve big Army problems and winners receive small business innovation grants to further their research.
“They can detect any kind of wound. The garment detects any type of penetration, anything that can cause massive hemorrhaging,” Gruentzig explained Monday. “We’re trying to decrease the time from injury to point of treatment.”
The second installment of Bloomberg’s Power of Difference series on Black wealth offered a deep dive into issues that impact intergenerational Black wealth transfer. The three part series, hosted by Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeks to highlight and encourage dialogue about the structures that aid in Black wealth accumulation and extraction.
Speakers discussed why wealth transfer remains pivotal to building wealth in the United States and explained how the historical lack of opportunity for Black families to preserve and pass on wealth has contributed to the prevalence of racial wealth inequality today.
Inherited wealth plays a pivotal role in advancing the economic launch point for future generations. Despite the pervasiveness of the American rags to riches story, the wealthiest families have certainly benefited from this capital infusion power–about 30% of the Forbes 400 inherited at least $50 million. Middle and working-class families can use transferred capital and assets to boost emergency savings, make down payments on homes, pay tuition for private schools and higher education, and invest in the financial markets or new entrepreneurship.
Black families, however, are five times less likely than white families to receive a sizable inheritance. When they do, the amount is still typically three times lower on average than what white families receive. This disparity has contributed to Black Americans falling behind in wealth accumulation while white generational peers are empowered to move towards further economic stability and advancement. Black families have certainly been capable of growing assets even in the shadow of Jim Crow and other forms of systemic racism that persist to this day. So why haven’t they been able to hold on to this wealth and pass it to their heirs?
Before the Race Massacre of 1921, the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a vibrant, thriving community of Black residents, like many of the “Freedmen’s Towns, and “Freedom Colonies established after the Civil War. Families there owned land, operated businesses, and ran community-sustaining institutions to create property wealth with an estimated value of over $200 million in today’s dollars, earning Greenwood the moniker “Black Wall Street.” When the Greenwood neighborhood was burned to ashes during a violent racial attack, hundreds of residents lost their lives and businesses, thousands of survivors were left homeless and impoverished, and many of them were hunted down, executed, or imprisoned. Laws were passed by the city of Tulsa to impede the rebuilding of Greenwood by survivors and their families. The most disheartening part of Greenwood’s story: this was not an uncommon occurrence.
In Chicago alone, approximately 1,000 Black homes and businesses were burned down during the Red Summer of 1919, a season of racism-fueled on Black communities across the nation. The segregation and violence of Jim Crow, in particular, have been theorized to have had a pervasive impact, stifling Black innovation and entrepreneurship with the threat of violent reprisal for Black wealth building.
In the latest Power of Difference event, speakers discussed how racially driven violence toward Black people like in Tulsa, Chicago, and elsewhere — particularly during the several decades following the abolishment of slavery — was used to rob Black people, destroy their property and intimidate them from building wealth. Government policies, local and federal, often neglected to protect Black communities from this ongoing threat, and instead have codified many racially discriminatory policies such as redlining, government seizures under eminent domain, and disenfranchisement. In turn, such practices have systematically destroyed and eroded the value of Black wealth since the Reconstruction era, with the effects felt to this day.
Pathways to recovery and resilience
Despite economic impediments and discriminatory policies, strategic options and vehicles for securing assets can help more Black families strengthen the economic mobility of future generations. Session speakers painted a detailed picture of how to address these systemic injustices: loopholes in state property inheritance laws can be closed; discriminatory institutional practices and local ordinances, such as those that might assign more value to land according to who owns it, can be revoked; and concentrations of wealth in Black communities, like those created in Greenwood can be systematically encouraged through initiatives that can start at the individual level.
Sean Anderson, a curator from The Museum of Modern Art, discussed the Reconstructions, Architecture, and Blackness in America exhibition he created with scholar and architect Mabel Wilson and 11 Black architects, designers and artists. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the project aims to encourage reflection on how Black communities strive to build and rebuild in the face of economic and social challenges, and “…how history can be made visible and equity can be built”. The exhibition sparks questions about topics such as “What might our nation look like today if all-Black towns of the past had been allowed to thrive?” and “How might Black community spaces be used to prepare for threats imposed by climate change?”
Reggie Lee, Partner and Chief Transformation Officer at The Carlyle Group described the ten-year journey he took to reclaim the family land that his great grandmother, a formerly enslaved person, had purchased during the Reconstruction era. His story serves as a case study for reclaiming and preserving family-owned assets. For example, to keep the newly reclaimed property intact for future generations, using a trust to ensure legacy building.
The panel Q&A delved into reasons for the continued loss of Black assets and different ways better laws, policies, and individual practices could help reverse this trend. Lack of wills and vehicles like trusts, for example, can make family land and other asset claims vulnerable to loopholes in policies, such as heirs property laws (aka ownership in common) or inheritance taxes. However, it is estimated that 70% of Black Americans do not have a will or estate plan.
Corporate hiring managers no longer need to argue the case for diversity. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that eight-in-ten Americans value racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace, with 45% of survey respondents citing diverse perspectives and equal opportunity as grounds for increasing diversity. Another 34% see a clear business case for diversity, too, as it leads to a larger pool of potential workers.
Yet, diversity is only a starting point. Inclusion, the behavior that welcomes and supports diversity in corporate culture, goes beyond the obvious missed opportunities for great talent. Inclusion is a necessary tool for growth and competitiveness.
For people of color, coping with discrimination can create the burden of an “emotional tax” in the workplace. This emotional tax is defined as ‘the heightened experience of being treated differently from peers due to race/ethnicity or gender, triggering adverse effects on health and feelings of isolation and making it difficult to thrive at work.’ Nearly 60% of women and men of color have experienced this burden, according to a survey by Catalyst. When employees of any background don’t feel that their perspectives are welcomed and included, the company bottom line can suffer, too.
The Black tax
This emotional tax is often referred to as the “Black Tax,” because of its particular impact on Black people.
Data indicates that, while a majority of Black survey respondents reported facing discrimination, those with college or higher education experience were even more likely to say they have been affected. As many as 62% of Black workers in STEM fields—as compared to 44% of Asians, 42% of Hispanics and 13% of whites—revealed they have experienced various forms of racial or ethnic discrimination at work, including earning less than a coworker with the same role and receiving less support than their peers from managers. When Black workers face racial discrimination, bias, and microaggressions in their daily professional environment, their emotional and financial wellbeing can be affected.
When faced with bias and discrimination, Black workers may feel obligated to code-switch, a method of alternating between ways of self-expression, appearance, and behavior in the workplace, to downplay racial differences and connect with colleagues. This suppression of one’s racial identity can come at the cost of authenticity and self-confidence, and thus, decrease a sense of belonging in a work environment.
This discrimination also forces Black employees to contend with hypervisibility, the feeling of being overly visible for one’s race or ethnicity, while their unique skills and personalities seem invisible to others. While this phenomenon has been an issue for years, its effect is being felt now more than ever in the aftermath of the murders of Black Americans like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, as well as the global Black Lives Matter protests that followed.
Intersectionality of multiple challenges
Facing the intersectional pressures of race and gender bias, Black women, especially, may need to navigate situations of gender bias more carefully, including things like being asked to do office housework or being interrupted while communicating in the workplace. Other situations that stem from racial bias, such as having their hair touched without consent or being told that they are exceptionally articulate or not like others of their race, can also take a toll. A common solution offered to women to thrive in the workplace is to “lean in” or be “more assertive.” However, due to pervasive stereotypes, Black women may be labeled as “angry,” or subjected to racially biased reprisals when speaking up for themselves.
Since the burden to stay vigilant against bias can impact an employee’s self-confidence, career path, and retention within an organization, it’s no surprise that professional and financial repercussions follow. This constant attention can become a job within a job, or, at the very least, an energy-draining distraction. Black employees in non-diverse and non-inclusive workplaces may lack access to the senior leaders and spheres of influence that could provide paths for career progression. The racial wage gap embedded in the corporate system, combined with the diminished opportunity to connect and move forward, can impact earning potential throughout a career.
The Black tax, being pervasive, also threatens the ability of Black families to build generational wealth. When Black employees earn fewer wages than their white counterparts, they have access to fewer opportunities for building net worth—via savings and investing—and ultimately, less to provide for and pass onto their families. As many Black professionals may be the first in their families and communities to have college degrees (along with the access to white-collar income), they often support extended families during their earning years. Thus, the burden of the Black tax can cast a far-reaching shadow over the economic health of Black communities.
The company bottom line takes a hit
Lack of diversity and inclusiveness can weaken the path to management for internal talent and make attracting innovative new stars a challenge. Unspoken pressure on people of color to be more qualified, more professional, and harder working than their colleagues just to be valued on par, can lead to reduced productivity, costly health struggles, and high turnover for this group. Data also indicates that employees who are not carrying that emotional tax burden may also become disenchanted with their organization’s intolerance for diverse POVs and will subsequently leave, as confirmed by 72% percent of respondents surveyed in a Deloitte Poll. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of employees surveyed in an SHRM study felt that the respectful treatment of all employees was a very important factor in their job satisfaction.
Companies that optimize productivity from a wide variety of people tend to perform better than companies that don’t. Exposure to diverse colleagues helps everyone learn to adopt inclusive practices. The results can include increased retention and employee engagement, broader attraction of top talent, better brand image within the community, stronger financial performance, and greater innovation.
Attracting the best talent and connecting with one’s customer base requires acknowledging women of color as an integral part of the available hiring pool. Women and people of color comprise 63% of the population, but account for less than 30% of senior business decision-makers. Women of color also make up the majority of the global female population. While strides toward gender inclusion show that approximately “1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman,” still “only 1 in 25 C-suite executives is a woman of color.”
Hispanic Americans are launching more new businesses, achieving higher levels of education, and reaching the C-suite of Fortune 500 companies in greater numbers than ever.
Surprisingly, these advancements and economic milestones are often unknown by the very people responsible for them – according to a recent survey, 77% of Latinx have no idea of their communities’ potential and contributions.
In that spirit, Bloomberg is spotlighting these accomplishments – and the perception gap behind them.
By celebrating and recognizing their influence and success, Hispanic Americans can feel more awakened, empowered and secure in the progress they’re making – both individually and as a united group.
With this perception gap in mind, we spoke to members of the Hispanic community here at Bloomberg, learning their thoughts on this perception gap and the work necessary to close it.
As a Latina, I don’t see Latinx achievements promoted enough in our schools, the workplace, and in mass media. We are making progress through employee resource groups here at Bloomberg, which aim to highlight the achievements of Latinx in the corporate landscape and the world, but there is still lots of opportunity to expose all the wonderful growth and achievements of our community. I actively seek out Latinx representation on a daily basis by specifically supporting Latinx authors, joining organizations for Latinx advancement, reading Latinx news outlets, and supporting Latinx-run businesses. If we were more celebrated, with our contributions and presence being more prevalent, the perception could change. Our reach needs to be wider. – Juliana Rodriguez, Engineering
I’m driven by my heritage, coming from a family of Latinx small business owners and seeing how hard my family has worked over the years to start and grow businesses, making them successful not only for this generation but for my kids’ and beyond. That’s how I see the achievements of the Latinx community: work ethic, drive, and passion to pave a way for their families. There is still a huge gap when it comes to recognizing the community’s achievements because people need to care and be open to seeing this community as a whole for who they are. – Stephanie Saliba, Global Data
We need to make our collective voice louder than the spun narrative of the sensational news cycle. Let’s get comfortable with talking about the larger power the Latinx community has, including how we contribute to the economy, our workforce participation, our leading rates of entrepreneurship, business ownership, startup businesses, and overall contribution to GDP. Let’s also highlight our increased political power, in terms of percentage of the electorate, and our ability to demand change and action from our representatives that will benefit our community. – Priscilla Cunza-Marin, Global Data
Bloomberg Engineering’s culture champions innovation. This is made possible by the different perspectives of our 6,000+ software engineers around the globe, who come from diverse backgrounds and geographies and who possess a variety of technology specialties.
Meet four of Bloomberg’s software engineers – all of whom are active members of the Bloomberg Black in Tech Community across our New York, San Francisco and London engineering teams – and see how they’ve been empowered to impact our business globally.
Our conversations with them cover their paths to and work at Bloomberg, how they’ve grown professionally, their impact in technology, the importance of an inclusive workplace, and their efforts to attract more diversity to tech. Interviews were edited for length and clarity.
TITLE: Software Engineer BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York
How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now? I lived abroad for 5 years, during which time I taught English in South Korea for 3½ years. I then served in the U.S. Navy for 4 years, after which I felt the urge to embrace my technical talents. This career change turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
While finishing my MBA, I decided to apply to the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, one of the country’s top-ranked coding bootcamps. This decision was the beginning of my path to Bloomberg, which I was drawn to for its philanthropic programs, the eclectic and dynamic nature of the Bloomberg Terminal, and the opportunity to be immersed in a culture of strong, talented software engineers.
I’m currently in the training program for new engineers. Prior to starting my training, I had the privilege of pre-training on the Commodities team, where I worked on building a map UI in React and Node.js and integrating it with a remote procedure call framework. I really enjoyed the learning process in discovering how to merge open source technologies with proprietary technologies.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way? One of my mentors is Erik Anderson, the software engineer who helped created MAPS<GO> and many of Bloomberg’s chart functions. Erik has helped me a great deal in building my confidence to tackle things outside my comfort zone. He really has helped me see that I was capable of more than I thought and encouraged me along the way, which really made me more driven to put in the long hours of practice and study that it takes to get to Bloomberg.
What do you love most about working in tech? I really enjoy the way it has evolved over the years and how it continues to change so rapidly. Working in technology forces me to continue learning and embrace my status as a ‘forever’ student. The moment we get too comfortable in this industry is the moment we are in danger of falling behind. There are so many advances and new technologies that, even after just one year, the older versions are quickly out-of-date. What I love most is that it is an industry that never gets too comfortable; it is about constantly improving the product and making applications faster and more efficient. The associated mental challenges and continuous learning excite me the most!
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? Entering a male-dominated industry doesn’t come without trepidation. Knowing that people come equipped with certain biases that they themselves may not even be aware of plays a role; it is just the way we have all been socially-programmed by the media, our parents, and our communities. The tech industry is challenging by itself and people of color may have to face a few additional challenges, dealing with variations of micro-inequities, and the burden of not contributing to certain stereotypes. However, what I enjoy the most are the raised awareness and open discussions seeking to address these imbalances. It really shows how we, as a human species, are evolving our consciousness around these issues.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? Diversity and inclusion are crucial to the strength of any great organization. In order for technology to serve a wider range of users, understanding their needs and wants is very important. With the advent of globalization, this type of understanding can only be reached by increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
I also enjoy sharing my experiences traveling and living abroad with my co-workers. It highlights the importance of travel as a way to break down barriers in understanding different cultures, which I believe is a pivotal step towards this objective. I am also a member of many different communities here at Bloomberg, so as not to limit the definition of myself to one particular ethnicity or background, but to expand my sense of self in order to represent the many different cultural experiences I’ve had and those I’ve adopted along the way.
TITLE: Senior Software Engineer BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York
How did you get to Bloomberg? I was an industry hire out of a Bloomberg recruiting event in Seattle, where I met the engineers who would eventually be my managers. They were great and provided an amazing vision of the technical challenges and company culture at Bloomberg.
What do you work on now? I am presently working on designing and building out the underlying platform that supports Bloomberg’s Asset Investment Management (AIM) compliance workflows.
Did you have any mentors to guide your career along the way? Most definitely! I was fortunate to have an awesome mentor when I first started at Bloomberg. He was one of those engineers whose code nuances and expressiveness are like revelations. I learned a lot about my team and Bloomberg’s culture just by contributing to his code. I was also fortunate to have supportive managers who accommodated my desire to be challenged. They were able to provide interesting, tangible and business-critical projects to broaden my scope and contributions.
What do you love most about working in tech? It has been said that engineers are the gatekeepers for civilization. Being in tech is like a calling. The work one does has a direct impact on the well-being of others. It gets more interesting when your work pushes the boundaries of what is considered possible. When this happens, there is no greater feeling than creating something new. Then you realize that, in some small way, you’ve (hopefully) helped make the world just a bit better than before.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you? Machine learning, especially around the areas of natural language processing and understanding. The best technologies are those that feel so completely natural and intuitive that you may forget that you are interacting with a machine. Ironically, it is extremely difficult to create such a system. Applications of ML have the powerful potential to change the way we all interact with technology, if not the very nature of the machines we use.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? There are very few of us in the tech industry. This truism begs us to ask why, as demographics don’t support this reality, as 10% of all college graduates and computer science majors are people of color. It’s sometimes hard not to feel excluded when there are very few people who look like you in the places that you are or want to be. There is often a significant effort required to go from ‘person of color,’ to ‘person,’ to ‘extremely capable person’ in the minds of others that people of other backgrounds do not face.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? Antifragility is a term coined by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb that describes systems that thrive in the face of volatility, shock or adversity. It represents the next step beyond robustness and resilience. I believe that, by their very nature, antifragile systems are diverse. Events that could take down a monoculture are often integrated and used for the greater good by an antifragile system. Diversity and inclusion promote antifragility by fostering teams that are tolerant, supportive, engaging and dynamic.
How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? I am one of the co-founders of the Bloomberg Black In Tech (BBIT) Community, which is composed of individuals in technology roles across Bloomberg – in engineering, product management, data science, etc. BBIT’s singular goal is to make Bloomberg the best place for minorities in tech across the industry. We host regular events to foster professional and personal development and create a fun, safe space. We work very hard to engage, support and empower the community at large through mentoring, recruiting, and outreach events on college campuses and at tech conferences with significant minority representation.
TITLE: BQuant Specialist, Desktop Build Group BLOOMBERG OFFICE: San Francisco
How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now? I spent the first five years of my career at leading French banks where, among other things, I designed and implemented technology to automate processes on trading floors. Bloomberg found me on LinkedIn and recruited me to our London office in 2013. I’ve now worked in our San Francisco office for five years.
I’m currently a BQuant Specialist in our Desktop Build Group. In this role, I educate our clients’ quantitative financial researchers, analysts, and data scientists to leverage BQuant, our interactive data analysis and quantitative research platform and new Bloomberg Query Language (BQL). To do this, I first have to understand our clients’ workflows and determine how and where our quant research solutions can help them derive value. Often, we can help clients reduce the amount of time and manual labor spent reviewing financial statements. We can incorporate probability and statistics that help clients make faster and more accurate decisions on their financial strategies. Many times, I create the specifications, design a custom application for a team of about 20-50 users, test the app, and implement it at the client site. Finally, I help train users to program in Python in order to leverage BQuant.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way? It has been challenging finding a Black professional mentor. David Mitchell, a team leader for our market specialists, has been a huge inspiration for me. We both started our careers in finance and moved to tech, so I feel like we have much in common. I appreciate how he reaches out periodically to check in on me. I admire his leadership of Bloomberg’s Black Professional Community and am really impressed by his career trajectory and the network he has built. It’s really important to see a person of color in a senior position because it makes that rank seem attainable for the rest of us.
Sandra Lee, who works in Bloomberg’s Product Oversight Office, has also been an influential mentor since we first met in 2016. She’s been with Bloomberg for more than 20 years, and she has helped me understand Bloomberg’s culture and navigate internal networks. I often use her as a sounding board to help me articulate my vision and get a second opinion. On a personal level, she shows me the value of work-life balance.
What do you love most about working in tech? I love being in a position where I’m learning something. Technology is perpetually evolving, and you always need to be on your toes to remain competitive. I will often think about a complex engineering challenge that I am trying to solve, and will have a candid conversation with a colleague or I will read an article, and then a solution will emerge. I then implement it and it is so satisfying when it works. I also like that tech has tangible results.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you? I am really excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). I love the idea that technology can show us patterns that humans cannot otherwise see because we cannot scrape through large volumes of data as quickly. From there, we can extract specific insights that influence our decision-making.
My interest in AI and ML led me to complete a graduate-level certificate program at the University of San Francisco. While I’m not using these skills in my current role, I’m excited that Bloomberg is doing cutting-edge work in natural language processing and other areas related to ML and AI. I’ve also joined Bloomberg’s Machine Learning Guild so I can stay connected to this technology; otherwise, it is hard to stay on top of it when you don’t apply it on a daily basis.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? One word: R-E-P-R-E-S-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N! We need to see peers and leaders who are people of color. When I don’t see people of color in leadership positions, I feel like it’s less possible to attain success. When I see Black leaders, I get a lot of motivation and affirmation that it could be me one day.
In my experience, people of color aren’t taken as seriously by their peers unless there are other people of color in leadership positions. I personally feel like I need to be better than anyone else in whatever I’m doing. I don’t want to give any opening for the quality of my work to be questioned. For that reason, I often spend extra time double-checking my work in order to make everything is perfect. No one asks me to do this, but I feel I must. This adds a dimension of extra stress because that workflow is not scalable or sustainable and can lead to burnout.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? Life is so much more fulfilling when you can interact with people from different backgrounds and ways of life. At work, a diverse team can help prevent tunnel vision when solving challenges or meeting client needs. Everyone comes with baggage and biases that sometimes makes communication uncomfortable, but this ultimately leads to rich learning experiences.
I’m always trying to recruit and advocate for more underrepresented minority candidates, because we are only likely to stay at Bloomberg if we continue seeing more diversity on our teams.
Jonathan “JC” Charlery
TITLE: Senior Software Engineer BLOOMBERG OFFICE: London
How did you get to Bloomberg? I was on my way to interview with a different company during the career fair at Howard University, when I ran into Kerry Joseph, an engineer who was recruiting for Bloomberg. We got to chatting about the company and he invited me to an info session later that night. What struck me was how down-to-earth and genuine he was. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything; he just talked about his own experiences at the company and how the job allowed him to grow.
In talking about his own background, we discovered we were from neighbouring islands in the Caribbean so we shared a cultural background. Having that conversation, and seeing and hearing someone like me at Bloomberg who had such a positive experience is what really sold me on the company.
What do you work on now? I’m on the Local Development team in London, which is part of our Developer Experience (DevX) group. Our team creates and supports the tools and workflows that allow engineers to develop and test their applications locally on their laptops using whatever tools they prefer, instead of relying on a limited shared environment.
Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way? Zac Rider, who leads our Real-time Distribution Platform engineering team, and Becky Plummer, a software engineering team leader in DevX (and my current manager) are two of the most influential managers I’ve had during my tenure at Bloomberg. They’ve provided me with many opportunities for growth and helped me build up my confidence in my own abilities. They were instrumental in putting my career on its current trajectory.
Femi Popoola, a technical team lead in London, has also been an amazing mentor to me. We’ve spoken about many different topics related to personal and technical growth, like knowing which opportunities are right for you and how to manage them, to understanding when you’re ready to take on a new challenge (hint: you’re never going to be “ready,” but don’t let that stop you).
What do you love most about working in tech? I love the rate at which everything changes in the tech industry, and the ease of being able to get involved.
The tech industry evolves so quickly that you’ll miss it if you blink. In the last 20 years or so, we’ve gone from having one dedicated phone line per family and maybe having a computer for the household to us all having a computer in our pockets and everyone having a phone. All the information this puts at our fingertips has made it much easier for anyone to become involved and even to transfer into tech-related fields from any profession.
Are there any particular technologies that interest you? Docker and container technologies are particularly interesting to me. The ability to simulate an entire environment and have repeatable declarative processes have really changed the way we think about development, testing, and stability of our systems.
What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry? Without seeing other people who look like them or can stand as a role model for them, people of colour tend to get discouraged from entering the tech industry. It is hard to continue being self-motivated or to believe you can achieve something if all the stereotypical icons don’t represent you in any way. It’s why Kerry stood out to me so much. He was West Indian and able to succeed in the tech industry. This isn’t spoken about often, but it creates a real psychological barrier for many people. Being able to connect with someone who shares your heritage or cultural background, and being able to see yourself in that person, are some of the greatest motivating factors.
In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? Diversity and inclusion are very important as they provide different perspectives. Having someone who can see something in a different manner and who brings their own background and experiences can help elicit a new style of thinking and new direction when it is needed the most. When all options have seemingly been exhausted, something which may seem intrinsically basic to someone can actually be just what is needed to get things moving again.
How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community? I’ve spoken at events aimed at promoting and highlighting diversity and inclusion, as well as been a representative, speaker and mentor at both internal and external events aimed at empowering underprivileged youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM and grow their networks. This includes serving as a mentor to both university students and secondary school students.
I have been an advocate for and given advice about different ways to recruit effectively at select Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) across the U.S. I’ve also attended university career fairs where I directly engage with students, serving not only as a company point of contact for them, but also sharing my experiences with them. I talk to new hires about my career progression and serve as a mentor to help them navigate the company’s culture.