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Promoting Black Talent at Jacobs Harambee Global Summit 2019

We brought together leaders from across the world to celebrate our wealth of black talent, empower them to lead and to drive inclusion across all levels of Jacobs.

“The companies that are the most diverse and inclusive across the world are the companies that have the highest quality, the best talent retention, the best profitable growth and best return on invested capital.”

With these opening lines, Jacobs Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou set the positive tone for Jacobs’ Harambee Global Summit.

“Harambee” is the name of our black employee network: in African Swahili it means “working together in unity” and for three incredible days at our headquarters in Dallas, Steve and members of his Executive Leadership Team worked in unity with 60 of our top black leaders from around the world to continue driving inclusion and diversity to the heart of everything we do as a business.

The structuring theme of this year’s Summit was engaging and empowering the leader within you, and sessions ranged from leadership coaching workshops and presentations from our leadership to discussion panels featuring our clients, industry partners and our board members. Of particular note was a discussion on mental health in the black community. With recent statistics showing that black and African Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental health issues than their white counterparts, it’s clear how crucial addressing this disparity is to the continued success of our black employees.

With attendees from countries as far afield as Australia, the U.K., Nigeria, Jamaica and Singapore joining with their U.S.-based colleagues at the Summit, it’s no surprise that the diversity in the room brought a real richness to the discussions. Commitments were made to continue the drive to recruiting the brightest and best black talent through STEM schemes, supporting community outreach programs, working with economically disadvantaged businesses and working to drive inclusion not just for black employees, but for all minority groups within Jacobs.

One undoubted highlight of the Summit was an unexpected appearance from three-time Superbowl champion, MVP and business leader Emmitt Smith, who dazzled and inspired the crowd with a presentation on the importance of leadership and teamwork and an insight into the challenges that he has overcome in his own career.

Attendees left the Summit energized, empowered and ready to continue advancing Jacobs’ journey to becoming the employer of choice for people across the world – whatever their race, gender identity, nationality or ability. As is the tradition with Harambee, Jacobs engaged several local black-owned businesses to help support catering, audio-visual and entertainment needs for the summit. And having helped themselves grow over the three days, our team left behind 30 fully-packed backpacks full of school supplies to be donated to Elisha M. Pease Elementary, a local majority black school in South Dallas.

Since 2010, Harambee has grown from a small regional team to more than 500 members across five continents. Supported by Steve (who is the network’s Executive Sponsor) and his leadership team, Jacobs partners with organizations such as NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) and COMTO (Conference of Minority Transportation Officials), with one of our leaders Freddie Fuller II recently elected National Chair of the latter’s board of directors and Jasmine Narcisse named COMTO’s 2018 Emerging Leader of the Year.

We also have a number of strategic relationships with colleges and universities across America, organizing and attending STEM events as well as partnering with both our clients and organizations like INROADS to develop young black talent. Click here to join our growing global team!

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