What One Thing Can We Do to Support Black Professionals?

by
2018LeanInRacialWealthGap

Reference: McKinsey/LeanIn 2018 Report and Findings

In this time of civil unrest, of economic insecurity, of medical uncertainty, it is my hope that together, we can build a more Diverse, more Empowered and more Engaged community, focused on increasing the number of recruited, retained and promoted professionals of all colors, for the short term, and in the long term. 

The McKinsey and LeanIn 2018 report on the numbers of men and women of color across the career journey is troubling, and the pandemic, the economic crisis, the civil unrest will further impede the progress on a goal of having more men and women of color recruited, developed, retained and promoted.

I asked Black professionals in the FountainBlue network what one thing can we as non-Blacks do to positively impact our progress. Below are their responses.

Be Informed.

  • Educate yourself – the onus is on YOU to educate yourself, don’t count on others to do it for you.
  • Be discerning about what you read and look for the TRUTH.
  •  
  • Be Curious. Be a Generous Listener with an Open Mind.
  • Listen and feel to their stories of trials and challenges.

Have Acceptance and Fortitude.

  • Accept that you must also change your way of thinking, your habits, your mis-perceptions, your biases, conscious or otherwise.
  • Accept that you will make mistakes and deviate from the course. Be courageous and humble enough to apologize, correct, and carry on. 

Prepare to feel deeply.

  • Be willing to feel uncomfortable.
  • Discrimination runs deep and wide. The level of pervasive discrimination is shameful. Our unintentional compliance with any discrimination can be troubling.
  • Be courageous enough to feel deeply. It’s OK to be sad, but do not feel pity.
  • Be willing to share your uncomfortable stories, feelings and topics with others.
  • Reflect: When you have a “gut” reaction or immediate reaction that is one of: distaste, anger, fear, aversion, agreement to a negative comment or action aimed at a Black person because of what that person is: wearing, saying (e.g. opinion, vernacular, vocal variety, passion, etc.), doing, located. 

  • STOP – REFLECT. Ask yourself why your reaction was so automatic. Was it a personal experience or “a knowing.” Often times, we can’t explain embedded or systemic racism. We just “know” it’s right, because it has been so carefully trained into us from a young age.

Provide Proactive Support.

  • Make a stand for your brothers and sisters, whether or not they are present, whether or not they know you’re doing it.
  • Collaborate with others to communicate a ‘You Can Too’ mindset to our Black youths. Help them to also reach for stars.
  • Intentionally hire more diverse candidates and help them to succeed.
  • Hire on merit, not for looks.
  • Advocate for others. Continue to call out racism and bigotry when you witness it and through social media.
  • Have the grace to offer opportunity rather than just charity, although charity is also appreciated.

Seize the Opportunity.

  • Embrace the concept that diversity is part of a Growth Mindset – something that helps us all.
  • Provide a Platform so that Blacks may speak. Don’t speak on their behalf.
  • Organize group talks to discuss race, social injustices and the role privilege plays in the fight for racial justice. 

Resources and Recommendations:

As a follow-up to this blog, FountainBlue will launch a ‘You Can Too‘, to provide up to 20 Summer Scholarships for youths and young professionals to attend of our semi-monthly Front Line Managers Online programs from July-September, and including a fifteen minute online coaching session once a month for three months. To apply for the summer scholarship for our ‘You Can Too’ program, visit https://forms.gle/RaGBoRqquiFgngNW9.  

This month, we will connect with HR leaders interested in Embracing Diversity, Facilitating Empowerment, Measuring Engagement, so our August blog will feature best practices for doing each. E-mail me if you would like to weigh in on the conversation.

Coming together and making a stand for diversity and justice would not only be a testament to our courageous, proactive and positive natures, our righteous and resilient spirits as leaders and as human beings, it would also increase our likelihood of connecting deeply with each other, and of increasing the likelihood of success. 


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