Ida Byrd-Hill Brings Frontline Expertise to the Detroit Regional Chamber Board

Described as a futurist and an urban economist, Ida Byrd-Hill, the CEO of Automation Workz is bringing her ideas and innovations to the Detroit Regional Chamber Board.

Byrd-Hill, who has over 30 years of business experience in HR, Executive Search, Finance, Technology and Wealth Management, is especially known for her startup sales expertise bridging African American and Mainstream markets.

Byrd-Hill also authored eight books, including Invisible Talent Market-Solving the Talent Shortage Without Outsourcing and Visas.

“I have spent 15 years serving CEOs as a wealth manager and executive search consultant, then 15 years serving 15,560 front-liners and their children to acquire tech skills. It is exciting to blend my divergent expertise as a director of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board to accelerate the electric vehicle workforce education pipeline,” states Ida Byrd-Hill, CEO of Automation Workz.

Automation Workz is creating the first tech grit assessment, Life Culture Audit, to discover, predict, motivate and coach front-line workers through rigorous digital reskilling and career success. Automation Workz is testing this tech grit assessment by training front-liners, mainly people of color, in network engineering, cybersecurity and software engineering and seeks to pilot the assessment in corporations around the world. She states, “Our learners, ages 25-45, have achieved a 75% completion rate, far exceeding the 11-38% completion rate as we teach soft skills while teaching tech skills.”

Front-liners, comprising 95 million employees, earning an average salary of $33,000, are the key to business growth as they can reduce the tech talent shortage and fuel consumer spending with their new higher salaries. In 2021, front-liners, receiving pandemic subsidies double their minimum wage pay, drove the highest business growth rate in 70 years. If their wages increased to the level of pandemic subsidies business growth in 2022/2023 would soar. In 2022 as they have returned to low-income, they are staging a revolt with the Great Resignation, unionization and ESG activism. Front-liners are angry they received a measly 4% raise, despite their dedicated loyalty during a wave of pandemic death, while CEOs received 16-31% raises.

Corporations, since the Jack Welch golden years, have behaved like Front-liners are disposable. The reality, CEOs and front-liners need each other to avert a full-blown recession in 2022/2023. Yet, as McKinsey & Co. reports in Race in the Workplace: The Frontline Experience, people of color are denied opportunities for income advancement, even in the midst of increased DEI pledges, training and initiatives. The problem is particularly acute amongst Black people as they are perceived to lack the “soft skills” needed to navigate workplaces. McKinsey reports more than 70 percent of frontline workers want to be promoted within their companies, but only 4 percent make the leap up the ladder. While Black culture is revered in entertainment/ sports and commercials, it is neither “acceptable” nor valued in the culture of corporate America. Front-liners will continually quit their jobs, force unionization and ESG activism until they secure respect, culturally relevant career training and income advancement.

“CEOs operate business at an aerial view, unaware of what occurs at the main street level. It is a privilege to be in a position to educate my fellow CEOs on how to capitalize on the front-liner revolt to catapult business growth in 2022 and 2023,” remarks Ida Byrd-Hill.

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