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Los Angeles-based Valence has launched BONDS, a mentorship program aimed at empowering Black professionals on the executive path. BONDS stands for Building Our New Definition of Success and is a membership-based community focused on accelerating the success of emerging Black executives.
Inaugural partners for the program span venture capital firms, tech companies, and gaming enterprises and include Accel, Electrolux, GGV Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Providence Strategic Growth, Roblox, Silicon Valley Bank, and Upfront Ventures. These companies will sponsor emerging Black leaders to help them engage with exclusive resources and mentorship that position them for the C-suite.
Corporate leaders, venture capital firms, and private equity organizations are supporting Valence’s approach by sponsoring their rising Black employees to participate in the community. BONDS is continuing to accept applications for its initial cohort at this link through May 31.
To commemorate the launch, BONDS is hosting an inaugural virtual gathering called Black Success Built Together on May 6 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific time.
Addressing an urgent need in corporate America
The lack of Black leadership in corporate America is an issue that requires attention and progress, Valence said. While Black professionals account for 12% of entry-level corporate jobs, just shy of their 13.4% representation in the U.S. population, their numbers fall to 7% of management roles, according to McKinsey & Co. The drop-off is in part a result of Black professionals leaving early-career jobs after they encounter a lack of professional and cultural support and conclude there is little opportunity for them to advance.
Valence CEO Guy Primus said in a statement that it’s no secret Black professionals face unique challenges. Companies are slowly understanding that merely hiring Black talent is not enough; they must help cultivate their success, he said.
James Lowry, the first Black consultant hired by McKinsey in 1968, is now a senior advisor at the Boston Consulting Group and advisor at Valence. He said BONDS is an important step for corporations interested in empowering and retaining great Black talent.
The annual BONDS membership is open to rising senior managers, directors, and other leaders with eight or more years of experience at large/enterprise companies; executives at startups and small and midsized companies; and founders, investors, technical, and creative individuals pursuing executive or directional positions within their field.
Members will have opportunities to develop their talents through executive coaching and a series of programs featuring live masterclasses with renowned content partners. Membership also includes six months of on-demand courses, talent assessments, BONDS event series, and roundtable workshops to address current workplace challenges.
BONDS has received broad cross-sector support from across the corporate and financial community.
Valence has 13 employees and has raised $7.7 million. GGV led the most recent round, and the company was incubated by Upfront Ventures. Other investors include Silicon Valley Bank, Hi Alpha, Softbank Opportunity Fund, Maveron, Defy Partners, Sinai Ventures, B Capital, and Firstmark.
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