Here’s How This Company Is Centering People Of Color Amid All The DEI Pushback


Photo Courtesy of 2045 Studio.

The United States is projected to become a majority-minority country in the year 2045, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. And while some have hailed the nation’s growing diversity as positive, others have vilified racial change as a threat to the country.

As a contentious national debate over diversity programs in higher education and corporate America continues, there’s a new hub for professionals of color called 2045 Studio that prioritizes diversity, inclusion, community and overall a sense of belonging.

Named for the year that people of color are set to become America’s majority, this membership network aims to address some of the growing diversity and inclusion concerns posed by people of color in their careers and help them advance.

“All these companies who came out and said all the right things following the murder of George Floyd. Now is a chance to see who’s really about the work and who was never about the work,” Founder and CEO Porter Braswell tells ESSENCE.

Over the last decade, Braswell has helped corporations recruit and hire diverse talent. Now, he says, it is time to help them retain it.

Here’s How This Company Is Centering People Of Color Amid All The DEI Pushback

“To be about this work, you have to ensure that your future leadership is going to be reflective of the changing demographics of this country…you have to start ensuring that your employees of color, your Black employees feel seen, heard, and valued. Those are the three ingredients that you have to ensure because if they don’t feel one of those things, that’s when they start to think about where else they can go,” says Braswell.

2045 officially opened its doors this past September and provides members with access to support, executive coaching and funding resources. The company has a unique structure designed to cater to its members’ diverse needs and career stages. A professional seeking membership can request it as an individual to be a general community member or be sponsored by an employer, making them part of the 2045 Leaders Cohort.

Members can access a 10,000-square-foot space in New York City’s Flatiron district, a digital app, and social and networking events held several times a week. Those who are a part of the leader’s cohort also have access to one-on-one executive coaching. Some of 2045’s corporate partners include Ford Motor Co., advertising agency McCann, MSD Capital, Pfizer Inc., and Sagard asset managers, resulting in member sponsorships and robust programming.

Here’s How This Company Is Centering People Of Color Amid All The DEI Pushback
Courtesy Of 2045 Studio

Braswell states that there are many reasons why people leave their companies and look for new opportunities and why diversity initiatives and programs fail within organizations, so there is no single solution. However, he believes companies can demonstrate tangible investments to employees of color to make a difference.

“We are not the single solution for any of it. We are one of the solutions that need to exist. And we encourage and hope that other solutions are going to be built out around us,” he says.

Braswell advises others to remember the value of community and the importance of speaking to the nuances and needs of different communities.

“Always remember you can be at any stage in your career, and you can build community; we are an easy way to build community, and you can build community through 2045. We’re doing that for a specific demographic and a certain tier of individuals who’ve reached a certain rung within corporate America. But it doesn’t mean you can’t build a community outside of that and speak to the community where you are,” he says.

“That’s how you make change. That’s how you can make impact.”


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