Loneliness can have an effect on your profession: entrepreneur creates help networks
The entrepreneur transformed an individual career support space into a platform aimed at corporate clients
For women who are moving up in the corporate world, especially black women, ambition can be lonely. In a 2018 study by McKinsey/LeanIn.org with 64,000 employees at 279 companies in North America, 45% of black women said they were often the only ones in the office. This isolation was taking a toll on their careers and companies.
This data did not come as a surprise to Tiffany Dufu. In 2018, the leadership consultant launched the platform The Cru to give women the support they often lack at work – especially women of color like her. The Covid-19 pandemic, which initially threatened his startup as funding tightened, ended up boosting the business as employers looked for ways to keep their female employees engaged while balancing remote work with responsibilities from home.
Thus, she transformed The Cru from a one-on-one coaching and career support space to a platform aimed at corporate clients. With 13 customers and 2,500 members, Dufu recognized that he now needs support to take his business to the next level. She has just acquired The Mentor Method, a startup founded by black businesswoman Janice Omadeke, to build her sales team.
Dufu is not the first to recognize the importance of creating and empowering communities to help underrepresented employees succeed at work. Employee Resource Groups date back to at least 1970, when black Xerox employees in the US created a support network to help each other succeed. Numerous external initiatives, such as Lean In and Chief, also aim to address this need.
What’s new is the tools and understanding that smaller groups can help women feel connected in ways that large corporations or individual mentors cannot. The success of support groups like F3, a network for men, proves that many of them are also feeling isolated and seeking community.
The entrepreneur is also focused on creating a community model to empower black women, who now represent 58% of its members.