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Maximizing This Moment

by Dorinda Walker

"Some people have shown up for inclusion and diversity at this MOMENT, some people have spent their lives making inclusion and diversity a MOVEMENT!"

Candi Castleberry Singleton, Vice President of Partnerships, Strategy and Engagement, Twitter

The national cry for racial and economic justice in our country and within corporate America is ringing loud. Accordingly, we at LEAD360 feel that NOWis the time for real change. Since our inception in 2012, we at LEAD360 have been part of the MOVEMENT to ensure that Black leader matter!

Corporate America must be careful, now is NOT the time to provide just anyone the opportunity to lead equity and inclusion efforts for Black professionals. Leaders who understand our identity, experience, and culture must have an equal role and voice at the table. Seventy-four percent of Black adults say that being Black is extremely important to how they think about themselves, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey. Therefore, inadequate representation of Black leadership in your company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, will bring about questions of trust and legitimacy in the sincerity and commitment to advance equitable opportunityfor Black talent.

Corporate America Cannot Continue to Fail Us!

We can no longer accept the ambiguity of corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. A recentUSA Today analysishighlights that while corporations and boardrooms have added African Americans over the decades, the executive suite has not, even at companies that have diverse boards. As of July 2020, of the 279 top executives listed in 50 biggest companies in the S&P 100, only 5 were Black, and two had retired. Let's call a spade a spade, decades of corporate diversity management have failed Black professionals. It is time to do something different!

We must require that corporations outline and communicate specific goals for advancing and investing in Black leadership. This does not require that other racial/ethnic groups be ignored. It merely means that corporations can no longer be complacent with a one size fits all approach that has clearly failed in advancing diversity and inclusion for its Black leaders. Setting and articulating goals is the first step, but clearly, a new strategy is required.

Research conducted by LEAD360'S Think Tank revealed that mid and senior-level leaders feel underexposed to training efforts that position them for success at higher leadership ranks. Similarly, some believe that there are systemic barriers to both executive learning and line opportunities (LEAD360,2019).

Black Leaders, We Understand Your Struggle!

In many instances, we know that Black professionals are often provided the role of Diversity and Inclusion Leader, without the adequate resources to implement real change. Black leaders, we know that for far too long the weight of being "the only one," and then being asked to lead a subpar diversity and inclusion "stretch" initiative where the details and depth of strategic thinking behind it, is as thin as the paper it's printed on. Yet, you are forced to comply for fear of not being a team player or the perception that you are ill-equipped to take on the added responsibility and become a performance issue. The fact is, there is a shared responsibility in ensuring the long-term success of corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. Black leaders cannot do it alone! Corporations must invest in the RIGHT resources to drive substantive change.

"Our organizations have to get better at proactively and strategically advancing, developing, and supporting talent. For so long corporate America has put the policies and processes in place, believing that it will just work out. It's not! People are making the people decisions, so when the people in those decision-making roles fall to their natural affinities and do not proactively sponsor and advocate for people who look different, and they flounder. Over the past decade, I have had many conversations with Black professionals, and there's an assumption that if you work hard, it is all going to work out. It's not true! You have to own your career, you have to go after what you want, make your expectations and aspirations known, raise your hand, and actively ask for feedback. Black professionals have to manage both the systems and decision-makers, to own and navigate their career."

Michele Meyer-Shipp, chief people and inclusion officer, Major League Basebal

So How Do We WYN?

Taking ownership of your career is a crucial requirement, but it's not the only requirement. The reality is, as a Black leader, you have three distinct roles in the workplace. The first is your official role, managing a team or division. Thesecond is representing diverse talent who has yet to make it into the room, and the third is mentoring and advocating for the next generation of innovative Black leaders in the succession pipeline. A vital component of thatformula is the executive leadership training that LEAD360 provides through our WYN academy.

If you have the courage to bring us in, we will help to ensure that you WYN!

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