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Why Mimconnect Is Providing Mental Health Resources To Black And Brown Employees

Now, more than ever, plenty of Black and POC individuals are struggling with their mental health due to the trauma of racial injustices paired with a deadly pandemic and economic instability. 2020 has also been the year of reckoning for Black/POC employees. With the impact of COVID-19 and conversations surrounding police brutality and systemic racism coming to a head, Black employees are consumed with a plethora of emotions like anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness, all while trying to accomplish their day-to-day tasks. 

With more employees being open about their experiences, brands are finally being held accountable for their lack of diversity/inclusion. Resources to help them when they ask, “what can we do to help” are critical. Although recent initiatives, such as the Pull Up Or Shut Up challenge and VSCO’s, #BlackJoyMatters campaign has been widely accepted and appreciated, many Black and POC employees are still suffering at work due to national unrest. Unfortunately, not all companies have adequate resources for them.

Mimconnect, is a digital community, dedicated helping their Black and POC members build their professional network, find job opportunities, network with other industry professionals via in personal events along with access to career resources/masterclasses and now they are offering BREATHE sessions in efforts to alleviate the anxiety and stress that many Black/POC professionals are experiencing in the workplace. Their BREATHE sessions are customized programming designed to create a safe space to address Black employee concerns. Designed to create a safe, anonymized space to address employee concerns, private sessions are offered for Black employees, allies, and all-hands. Post-event, they gather the insights served to assist leadership with evaluating immediate next steps and long-term advancement opportunities.

Nettea Dobbins, CEO of Mimconnect, co-founded Mimconnect, along with Bianca Jeanty grew it into a popular and engaged in a digital community and trusted resource hub for multicultural professionals. With the help of her team, she recently launched their Black Talent Directory with the intentions to recruit Black talent within the media industries, which are largely underrepresented. In addition to diversifying the current media landscape, Dobbins is passionate about understanding the crucial need for mental health resources and to help Black/POC professionals process grief and emotions that are being heightened during this time. 

In honor of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness month, I sat down with Dobbins to talk about the importance of mental health resources for employees of color and how she is working to bring those to companies looking to support their employees through Mimmconnect.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What led you to the path of entrepreneurship?

Nettea Dobbins: After working in Marketing and Public Relations for a few years and continuing to find myself being the only Black person at the table in various corporate settings, I decided to create an antidote to that workplace isolation. I have always been a natural community builder, so I co-founded Mimconnect and grew it into the most engaged digital community and trusted resource hub for multicultural professionals. Mimconnect is an external support network that empowers those in marginalized communities to bring their whole selves to work. I fell into the path of entrepreneurship through my passion for uplifting my community and creating a space where multicultural professionals can feel seen. 

Fluker: Mimconnect is a digital community helping Black/POC to build their professional network, find job opportunities, network with other industry professionals via personal events along with access to career resources/masterclasses. What inspired you to create this platform?

Dobbins: After realizing that my experience in the workplace was not unique and many other people in my circle were also feeling isolated, I wanted to create a space for them to receive the opportunity to build their network with other professionals who understood the nuances of navigating the workplace as a person of color. Knowing that we start to see the decline in Black/POC representation in the workforce around that mid to senior level, and there are so many resources out here catering to helping diverse audiences get internships and entry-level positions, I wanted to place a special focus on that subset of the community to give them the access to the skills needed to really level up and create more economic opportunity for them. 

Fluker: What’s the mission behind Mimconnect? What services and programming do you offer millennial Black/POC professionals?

Dobbins: Our mission is to create more economic opportunities for previously marginalized groups by providing them with the community, training, and workshops, and access needed to thrive in the workforce. On the community side, we offer the below programming. 

Job Opportunities:

As a response to the killing of George Floyd and conversations surrounding systemic racism, we launched the Black Talent Directory. What we saw was that many companies were issuing statements around the importance of Black lives, but didn’t have Black talent internally. The Black Talent Directory serves as a resource for companies to find, hire, and connect with Black Talent who are actively and passively looking for new opportunities. Black talent can add their name to the growing list, and companies can purchase a license to access the directory.

Additionally, we are starting a new digital series this Fall called, #JobSeekers. We understand that COVID-19 has stopped people from going into the office so it can be tough for potential new hires to really understand the company culture and the environment they’re entering into. #JobSeekers is a weekly event series where we invite Diversity & Inclusion Officers, Chief People, and Talent Executives, Hiring Managers, and/or Recruiters into our community to give insight into their company, diversity initiatives, hiring process, and more. It’s also an open AMA for attendees to get even more specific questions answered.

Lastly, we’re always promoting opportunities from our partners within our community, newsletter, and on our job board.

Fluker: July happens to be BIPOC Mental Health Month, and Mimconnect is offering programming to help Black/POC professionals process grief and emotions that are heightened during current national unrest. Speak to the importance of the BREATHE sessions.

Dobbins: This has been the year of reckoning for Black/POC employees. With more employees being open about their experiences, brands are finally being held accountable for their lack of diversity/inclusion or inability to address the issues and trauma these employees are repeatedly facing. 

Throughout July, in partnership with Bright Ventures, Kokoro, and Fathers For Peace, we launched BREATHE, a digital grief session to help professionals of color navigate their emotions surrounding police brutality, systemic racism, and more. These were intimate sessions that provided a safe space and actionable tactics to work through the emotions everyone was feeling.

We’ll continue to host BREATHE sessions weekly for our communities throughout the month of August. 

Fluker: Mimconnect’s BREATHE sessions are customized programming designed to create a safe space to address Black employee concerns. Share the process behind creating these specialized sessions.

Dobbins: Designed to create a safe, anonymized space to address employee concerns, private sessions are offered for Black employees, POC, allies, and all-hands. Post-event, we gather the insights served to assist leadership with evaluating immediate next steps and long-term advancement opportunities. In order to be able to address a variety of different audiences and bring in skilled professionals with a variety of skill sets to lead these conversations, we conceived this event in partnership with Bright Ventures, Kokoro, and Fathers For Peace. All of our communities were facing the same issues and we wanted to create a space to process the grief and emotions that are being heightened due to the current climate.

Fluker: How do you plan to scale Mimconnect over the next 3-5 years? 

Dobbins: Mimconnect will be the premier online destination for professionals of color to access all things career-related and take digital courses to upskill. By understanding the nuances that BIPOC face in the workforce, we’ll be able to intertwine culture and professionalism to create programming & content that’s not only informative but entertaining to our target audiences. 

For companies, we’ll set the standard in creating inclusive work environments and processes that increase retention while developing talent internally. Mimconnect aims to be the one-stop shop for all D&I needs and a true partner to the companies we bring onboard. 

Fluker: Share your best piece of advice for millennial POC interested in entrepreneurship.

Dobbins: Entrepreneurship isn’t about getting it right. It’s about listening to your audience, iterating, and being perseverant. A quote I’ve lived by is that “passion produces perseverance.” Entrepreneurship is not easy at all, but when you’re passionate about your why and your purpose, that can be enough to get you out of bed every day and continually work through the dark time that entrepreneurship can bring. 

If you have an idea, I encourage you to put it out into the world as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be well branded or beautiful. The first thing you’re doing is customer research to see if it’s something people even want. Listen to what your audience is telling you they need and create around that. It may change the actual product that you envisioned it, but it shouldn’t alter the purpose you have behind creating it. 

All of this will save you so much time in the end.

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