Most of the leaders I coach, teach, and guide along their inclusion journey don’t know what it’s like being Black in Corporate America or Black in America period. Many do however do earnestly want to be inclusive leaders. As this is Black History month I want to talk a little about why Black history is foundational to your inclusive leadership journey.
History gives us the context, tools and knowledge to analyze and explain problems in the past and it positions us to see patterns that might otherwise be invisible in the present.
Diversity, inclusion, and equity training often include topics such as unconscious bias, practicing inclusion, allyship and courageous conversations. Learning Path has all of these very important courses. But we also explore history. For leaders to be curious, see, understand and respond to acts, systems, policies and/or processes that are creating exclusion and inequitable outcomes, knowing the history is a foundational tool to identify what is happening in the present.
“That was the past, but it’s not like that anymore,” is a mindset the inclusive leader cannot afford to have. It is easy to be in denial about the real struggles marginalized groups experience. If it is not your struggle you will have to be intentional about learning about it. Both past and present.
Historically Black people have had to fight to be seen and treated as equal citizens. Today, in organizations across industry, Black men and women face an amplified and distinctive set of challenges as they climb their career ladders, including isolation, acculturative stress, and bias. Many Black people in leadership positions have shared how they’ve been expected to perform above and beyond the norm.
Historically, Black leaders, employees, and entrepreneurs have faced stereotypes that have interfered with the general perception of their competence and held them to higher standards in evaluations and intense internal scrutiny by managers and other people in power.
Inclusive leaders educate themselves about the history of their company and industry. Who was your business built for? In what ways does that design, that more than likely did not include Black people, impact your Black employees? As an inclusive leader what do you need to know? How will you find out? What will you do with that knowledge?
It’s Black history month. I encourage you to take another look. Educate yourself about the brilliance, resilience, and contributions of Black people. Your job as an inclusive leader is to help your people excel. That is the job.
At Learning Path, LLC we are here to help you on your journey.