ROI Influencers: People of Color 2021 — No. 1

John Harmon
Founder, CEO and president
African American Chamber of Commerce of N.J

We don’t necessarily aim to give the No. 1 honor on our ROI Influencers lists to the same person in consecutive years. With so many talented people in all of our categories, there’s a desire to spread the honor around.

But, as we discussed the most impactful person of color in the state, all thoughts turned to John Harmon — the founder and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey — for the second consecutive year.

Harmon was on every business leader’s speed dial in 2020, when the corporate world finally came to realize it has been unjustly holding back people of color for … well, forever.

This year, it’s different. Harmon has been working hard to keep those conversations going, taking nothing for granted. He is a man of action.

Harmon said his goal for the chamber is simple: To have a Black business community that is ready for any and all opportunities.

“We have a staff meeting every day — and I remind the staff every day that we have to have five-star customer service,” he said. “We need to follow up with everybody.”

On both sides of the introduction, Harmon said.

“We’re making introductions for any member that needs an opportunity, and we’re following up to keep both sides engaged,” he said. “Both sides can drop the ball. We’re making sure we keep folks engaged.”

Harmon said complacency is his biggest concern.

“We’re constantly reminding our members: We have their attention, this is not the time to take this for granted,” he said. “You have to come with your ‘A’ game every day, because we now have the audience. There are folks who are looking to hear from you. We have to take advantage.”

Harmon said there are four main goals:

  • More seats on boards;
  • More government contracts;
  • More jobs;
  • More investment in corporate citizen programs.

He and his team are working hard to reach all of them. And that’s why he is again No. 1 on the ROI Influencers: People of Color list in 2021.

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