Recently, a company called Next Generation Consulting ranked Charleston the second-best small city for young professionals to live and work. Reportedly, 411 people responded to this survey. The results will provide important information that the Charleston Young Professionals will use to prioritize the issues and concerns that matter most to them.
Charleston Young Professionals is an initiative of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. The intent is to engage young professionals early in their careers in order to capture and develop their talents and skills so they will be part of the fabric that will lead to Charleston being the best place for young professionals to live, work, and raise their families.
What is missing from this survey is the lack of minority participation. That only 10 percent of respondents were minorities is alarming. I wonder how many minorities even received the survey to begin with.
How can you boast of such a ranking and the wonderful things these professionals are doing when 90 percent of the 411 respondents are white? I know 411 young minority professionals that I could get to fill out this survey on my own.
This indicates to me and many others that a committed focus needs to be made on getting those professionals who look like me involved. While Charleston will never be like Atlanta, Ga., on many different levels, Charleston Young Professionals and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce cannot dismiss the buying power, influence, and contributions that young minority professionals have.
Results like this can lead to the formation of minority-focused professional organizations. There should not be a need for an African-American and Hispanic Young Professional organization nor an African-American and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but if minority groups are not being heard, they ought to organize.
The huge gaps that exist in our community are being addressed only seasonally by organizations; Charleston Young Professionals, Leadership Charleston, and the Chamber of Commerce should be filling that void. A consistent effort must be made from those organizations to be more inclusive and open-minded in order to attract and sustain a young professional group that represents the 21st century.
At my 10-year Burke High School reunion last month, most of my classmates who showed up live outside of South Carolina and will never move back here. Their reasons are plentiful and understandable. Because the social scene seems to cater to one group — coupled with the difficulty that many minorities have getting jobs here — my classmates prefer to give their time, energy, and talents to cities in Georgia and North Carolina rather than South Carolina.
I am not a member of Charleston Young Professionals. If they and the Charleston Chamber want to have a better reputation in the minority community, they need to do some serious outreach. I believe a better representation of minorities in the survey would give a more complete picture of young professionals in Charleston. Such representation would provide a better list of issues, solutions, and ideas that matter most to young professionals in Charleston.
I hope that the next survey conducted will be more efficient and inclusive. If not, Charleston will remain an island with a one-sided view, and young minority professionals will find an outlet elsewhere.