“It’s so nice to see some colour in the room” I said to my colleague at the end of a 2 day training course. They let out a sigh in agreement.
Nice is probably not the most accurate and articulate way to describe what I felt or meant. Too many times of recent, LinkedIn or Twitter has notified me that a large, well-known corporation has hired the first Black person or woman into a particular executive position. Does that make me think nice?! Does it surprise me? No. I simply think only now?! It’s 2017/18!
Now, before you stop reading because “you don’t see colour”, your self-diagnosed colour blindness is exactly why you need to keep reading. And possibly go to Specsavers. (This text box is red btw…)
As a young Black professional, I’ve begun to truly understand how important it is to surround myself with a diverse group of people and particularly people who look like me – of course this includes the work place. This is not to be close minded or cookie cutter, but often relaying an awkward or distasteful work situation to my friends via a WhatsApp voice note isn’t the most practical solution. And HR, even though I sit on the team, isn’t always the first and most straightforward answer. It’s not all and only bad…
As humans, we automatically want to feel safe and so we stick to what and who we know; environments we’re used to and people that look like us.
There’s something about validation from your peers, in particular peers that are similar to you. It became a great topic of discussion at the BlackBallad event with Florence Adepoju, Cosmetic Scientist and Founder & CEO of beauty brand: MDMFlow, launching her Flawless Base crowdfund (<< click & back the campaign!). Not a conscious seeking of validation, but a reassurance that you’re doing the right thing, on the right track. It’s motivating seeing other women blossom, even more so Black women. I partly aspire to role model my role models.
Take a look at your team – above & below. Review your recruiters – emerging and experienced talent. Benchmark your Board. How do you feel? Comfortable? Yourself? Or your work self? In a highly competitive and digital jobs market, how are companies reassuring talent that they’re the right place for them to bring their best self to work?
Nowadays, the legacy of a brand isn’t enough. Businesses need to be confident & creative in their understanding of every single customer – and this post/conversation is not limited to ethnicity alone. Candidates really need to see themselves working with you, not just for you. As Melissa Jones recently wrote on breatheHR: “Employing a diverse workforce isn’t simply about treading a politically correct line, it can bring a greater understanding of your customers’ needs and a much broader range of knowledge, creativity and productivity to your company.” And that’s just the start.
So, attending a training where it was “nice to see colour in the room” made for more than a “diverse” learning environment. Sharing our training experiences and expertise combined with cultural nuances and overseas stories validated our own learning journeys – past, present and future – particularly between myself and the other Brown women in the boardroom.
Join the conversation #BYBS
Bring Your Best Self – a series on how you can begin to bring your best self to all situations. A conversation that only works and can bring works, if you speak up! Use the hashtag, join the convo!
What does diversity mean to you? Does it matter if your team is diverse? Do you BYBS regardless?