In a cultural climate where we are all charged with prioritizing diversity and inclusion, how are you showing up?
While I am a Black woman, I cannot speak for the entire Black community. I will say many Black individuals in the workforce at some point or another, experience the soul crushing mental whispers of feeling they are simply meeting a quota for their organization.
In having discussions with a multitude of close friends and colleagues, Black individuals in Corporate America often find themselves feeling silenced when sharing their unique ideas and perspectives. We feel silenced when we speak up.
It isn’t enough for us to discuss diversity in the workplace, we also must hone in on ensuring the diverse pool of candidates, eventually hired, have a seat at the table. We must ensure these diverse new-hires feel they can bring their whole self to the workplace and when they share their ideas, aren’t quieted.
At various points in my career, I’ve felt that I’m simply “seat warming” to meet the quotas of my organization’s diversity metrics. In the past, I’ve found myself networking, sharing career experience with more senior professionals, often feeling I needed to really sell myself, in order to fit their expectations of a manager-level candidate. The conversation was often re-directed by the senior manager, “Taylor, maybe you’d be a good fit for an admin or specialist role on my team, I’d love to have you!”
Despite my background of over nine years working to elevate executive level communications at the Walt Disney World Resort and one of the largest Foodbanks in the Midwestern region to name a few (without listing my entire resume), I was still experiencing a glass-ceiling that many White counterparts can’t quite understand.
I think we can all agree with the system being flawed. If senior leaders interviewing candidates in Corporate America, only see Black women, in their late twenties with their Bachelor’s Degree, a “fit” for more entry-level support roles, despite over nine years of extensive experience in Corporate America, Houston we have a problem!
I regularly have internal dialogue that goes a little something like this…
“Are my ideas being shot down because I’m Black, a woman, or ‘considered’ fairly young?”
“Am I simply not communicating well enough for them?”
“Do I come across too nice and need to firm it up a bit so people take me more seriously?”
You guys, this is not okay. With so many organizations focused on diversity, we also need to ensure leaders have the appropriate training to make their newly developed, diverse teams feel they aren’t simply seat warmers.
Diversifying our teams can’t be simplified to checking the boxes, it has to rest in a foundation of leadership training, challenging status quo and mutual understanding that the ability to share our unique experiences and creative ideas is fair game for all. In focusing our diversity efforts around ensuring inclusion is just as important, we will see better team collaboration and employee retention.
Because if we aren’t intentional, what’s the point?
Wishing you well,
I’d love to hear from you, comment with your thoughts on how you plan to change the world!
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