Seeing is Believing: Exposure Opens New Horizons for the Underserved

“What you don’t know you will not recognize”

African Proverb


This African proverb, “What you don’t know, you will not recognize,” rings true in the context of economic inclusion and upward mobility. Often, individuals from disadvantaged communities lack exposure to professional role models that resemble them.

A mere 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are people of color, and only 1% are Black. For women, the numbers are even smaller, with just 37 female Fortune 500 CEOs (7.4%). Such lack of representation in leadership and high-paying fields perpetuates limiting beliefs about possible achievements. A 2016 study found that exposure to success, such as moving to better neighborhoods, resulted in low-income boys earning over 30% more annually.

Actively reaching underserved groups is crucial to counter the narrative that certain opportunities are out of reach. Role models that defy stereotypes have proven significant positive effects on marginalized youth. Similarly, mentorship is a key enabler of success, with 72% of executives attributing their careers to it. However, only 37% of women and minorities have mentors. Initiatives outcome focused by offering mentorship for career advancement to the marginalized experiencing tremendous results.

Access to education and training allows individuals to gain the qualifications and skills necessary for high-paying jobs. Innovation hubs and bootcamps focused on serving women, minorities, and low-income individuals have produced outstanding outcomes, such as an 85% employment rate post-graduation and an average salary increase of 38%.

Reducing barriers to education and skills development for marginalized groups is essential. Expanding access to broadband, devices, and digital literacy enables more individuals to participate in the modern economy.

While challenges persist, there is momentum towards empowering the underserved through economic inclusion. Conscious leaders across sectors are uniting to implement solutions.

“You cannot be what you cannot see,” but together, we can broaden perspectives, create upward mobility, and ensure winds of change continue to blow us into our destined future. Extend a hand to uplift another to ensure they have the dignity to define it.

Join our collective of innovators and change makers – together we’ll transform systems.

Join the Movement!