Black Integrated Communications Professionals
50 Years of Excellence
The organization that is The NETwork – BICP is the evolution of a disparate groups of organizations that had a kindred mission to improve professional prospects of African American employees in the Bell System and the companies that resulted from the 1984 AT&T Divestiture. Though these organizations formed separately and at different times, they shared a common goal of professional development for African Americans in the telecommunications industry and leveraging that developing talent to benefit the broader community.
The Bell System had long been a desired place of employment for African American workers, however, by the late 1960s and early 1970s, blacks were under represented in craft and management positions. With civil rights legislation and Affirmative Action being enacted in the country, employees began to organize around the desire for improved opportunities within the company.
In 1969, three first-level African American managers at Pacific Telephone and Telegraph organized to help PacTel meet its recruiting commitment to the National Alliance of Businesses, a program that preceded Affirmative Action. The program was largely unsuccessful, as employees hired through the program were often fired during their first year on the job. That effort, however, planted the seed for a much more ambitious endeavor.
The group of concerned managers grew into an ad hoc committee that drafted a proposal on race relations that was presented to J.W. Hull, the president of PacTel. The proposal was rejected, however, the committee continued its efforts and subsequently formed as the executive board of C.I.T.I.E.S. (Community Involvement Teams In Every Sector)
In 1973, The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice and AT&T signed a landmark consent decree to eliminate discrimination in recruiting, hiring and promotion practices against women and minorities. Under the decree, AT&T distributed $15 million to 13,000 women and 2,000 minority men. The company also provided approximately $30 million in immediate pay increases for 36,000 women and minorities whose advancement in the Bell system had been hampered by discrimination. The consent decree expired in January 1979.
THE ROOTS OF THE ORGANIZATION
A concerned group of African American managers formed an ad hoc committee to address the lack of opportunities for minority employees at Pacific Telephone and Telegraph. In 1969, that committee grew into an organization – Community Involvement Teams In Every Sector. The first chapter was formed in Los Angeles and grew to six chapters throughout the state of California. After Southwestern Bell acquired PacTel in 1999, CITIES merged with The NETWORK to form Community NETwork.
The idea for what became The NETWORK at Southwestern Bell began from a routine business meeting in 1987. Three employees began discussing the state of affairs with respect to black employees at the company. That discussion grew into an organization with a stated mission and purpose with a formal constitution and bylaws. They later merged with members of the SBBE (Southwestern Bell Black Employees) group under the name The NETWORK.
In 1979, a group of black managers at Michigan Bell took their dissatisfaction with the state of employment at the company to the press. Michigan Bell responded by forming an ad hoc advisory group that became the Black Executive Advisory Panel (BEAP). The next year, BEAP expanded to add a working arm of the organization named the Minority Advisory Panel. During the 1980s, similar organizations developed in the other Midwest Bell Operating Companies. When those companies merged in 1990 to form Ameritech, BEAP and MAP joined with the Black Managers Associations of Illinois and Indian Bell, MENTOR at Ohio Bell and the Progressive Managers Association of Wisconsin Bell to form the Ameritech Black Advocacy Panel. ABAP merged into Community NETwork after Ameritech was acquired by Southwester Bell Corp in 2001.
The Alliance of Black Telecommunications Employees, Inc.
The Alliance of Black Telecommunications Employees grew out of the conglomeration of the Association of Black Laboratories Employees (formed in 1970), the AT&T Employee Focus Group and the Committee of AT&T Black Employees. The Alliance was formally incorporated in 1985 shortly after the breakup of the Bell System. The organization grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s, to as many as 37 chapters nationwide. The organization split in 1997 in accordance with AT&T’s corporate spin off of Lucent Technologies and NCR. The Alliance merged with Community NETwork in 2006 when AT&T was acquired by SBC.
Through the various mergers and acquisitions, other organizations supporting the professional concerns of African American employees were folded into Community NETwork. Bell South Networking Action Team (BNAT) joined in 2007, followed by Community of African American Professionals (CAAP) at Cingular wireless in 2008. Most recently, BAALANCE joined the fold after the acquisition of DirecTV. To reflect the changes in the industry, in 2016, Community NETwork – African American Telecommunications Professionals became The NETwork – Black Integrated Communications Professionals.
The NETwork B.I.C.P.
In 2016, we evolved once again to become, The NETwork Black Integrated Communications Professionals, focusing on transforming our future. In 2019, we will be celebrating 50 years of excellence.