Writer on black women to give careers...

Writer on black women to give careers talk

The three biggest problems facing black women in the workplace are racial discrimination, the women's lack of focus on their career and their failure to believe in themselves, says author and career planner Leslie Shields.


"We have always had an economic focus -- we need a job," instead of thinking about a career, she says. But that's not so strange, considering that for many years most black women were limited to jobs as domestics.

And black women have to start telling themselves what they can do, instead of listening to people who tell them what they can't do, she says.


Ms. Shields, one of the authors of "Work Sister Work: Why Black Women Can't Get Ahead (and What They Can Do About It)," will talk about career planning at the University of Baltimore Wednesday evening.

Ms. Shields, whose day job is helping laid-off executives find jobs, joined her sister Cydney to write the book after talking to about 4,000 minority women.

She says the job market is "bleak" right now.

And she advises people to consider alternatives to full-time jobs with big companies. One example: finding two part-time jobs.

$627,500 fine sought for lead violation

The state has proposed its largest-ever fine for violating lead paint standards, against Baltimore-based G&O; Contracting.

The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency has proposed that the bridge-painting company be fined $627,500 for exposing its workers to harmful levels of lead paint.

Company officials did not return several calls asking for comment about the fine.


A court hearing on the fine is scheduled for April 12.

In the MOSH documents, state inspectors reported watching poorly trained and poorly protected workers scrape lead paint off a viaduct near Interstate 68 in Cumberland.

The inspectors took photographs of workers smoking, eating and working in an area where there were levels of airborne lead as high as 352 times what the state has deemed to be safe.

Three employees were later found to have high levels of lead in their blood. Lead can cause health problems ranging from tiredness to kidney damage.

Joblessness higher in '80-'82 recession

Much has been written about the recent recession, including some claims that it was the worst downturn in postwar history. But one study suggests that we may be forgetting how bad the recession of 1980-1982 was.


The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the Delaware-to-Florida region started that recession with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, and came out of it with an 8.7 percent rate.

That's worse than the most recent recession, from July 1990 to March 1991. The South Atlantic region entered that recession with an unemployment rate of only 4.8 percent. Three years later, the jobless rate is 7.1 percent.

Those statistics don't tell the whole story, though.

Almost half of the people laid off during the previous recession had expectations of being recalled. Only about 10 percent of this recession's layoffs were temporary.

Book tells workers how to be 'fire proof'

No matter what you've heard about an economic recovery, layoffs, "rightsizings," and reductions in force are going to continue. So you've got to make yourself "Fire Proof," a local employment consultant says in a new book.


Charles R. White, principal in Baltimore-based White Ridgely Associates, paid to have 5,000 copies of his book printed. He's started marketing them around town this week.

In "Fire Proof," he recommends five steps to make sure that if you are fired or laid off, you'll have another job waiting for you:

1) Know yourself. Figure out what you can offer others.

2) Do a good job. "Find out what you are supposed to do and do it. . . . Support your boss 100 percent."

3) Manage your boss. "Most managers are incompetent. They receive no training, so you've got to share the responsibility of managing."

4 4) Work with other employees inside the company.


5) "Make sure your phone rings once a month" with a job offer from somebody else.

You knew there was a catch, right? But it's not so hard, Mr. White says.

Start networking by joining professional organizations, volunteering, and, our favorite tip, talking to reporters. If you see an article you like, contact the people mentioned in it and the writer, he recommends.

Executives used to manage the careers of their subordinates. But that's not true any more, Mr. White says.

"If you are going to have an effectively managed career, you have to do it yourself."

EEOC wins first case involving disability act


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has won its first case based on protections granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A federal court jury in Washington last week fined a Chicago security firm $572,000 for discharging its executive director, who is suffering from brain cancer.

The jury found that Charles H. Wessel could have performed his job at AIC Security Investigations Ltd., even though he had inoperable and terminal brain tumors.