As we head into the teen years of the 21st century, it’s amazing to reflect on the many accomplishments of African Americans in our country. As a girl growing up in the Deep South who integrated my Catholic school system in the ‘60s, never could I have imagined the things I’ve seen take place thus far in my life.
We’ve inaugurated our first black president. Media entertainment giants like Oprah, Tyra and Tyler have become one-name phenomena with the ability to grow and sustain their own business empires. Many of our “young” rap stars have now hit the big 4-0. And we have our first black female CEO of a Fortune 100 company.
Because of all those big moments and high achievements, it’s easy for us to believe that all is well – that we have “arrived” at equality. But I’m here to tell you, first-hand, that in the business world we certainly – and unfortunately – have NOT arrived at equality for African Americans.
Now, c-suite leaders could read this and think, “Oh, that’s too bad. We should keep working on it.” And that is true, but it’s more than a “should” – it is a MUST.
Because here’s the reality: Besides the fact that getting rid of bias and creating equality is just the right thing to do, that lack of equality and existence of bias in the workplace affects a company’s bottom line. YOUR company’s bottom line. If you lead your organization into the annihilation of bias, your profits WILL increase.
Over the past decade as I’ve been consulting and speaking, people often ask me how I did it. How was I – a woman of color – able to achieve the excellence I sought in my professional life? How was I able to break the glass ceiling and become one of the first African American female VPs in the consumer goods industry?
Honestly, it’s not a simple answer. And it wasn’t all peaches and cream along the way. It involved several factors as well as much hard work and sacrifice. I CAN tell you, however, that the easiest way my employers reaped the benefits from my unique talents and giftings was by providing me bias-free SPONSORS (not just mentors) along the way. Many times, those sponsors were c-suite leaders themselves. C-suite leaders who were led by something called moral purpose – or unbiased excellence.
Do YOU have a SPONSOR? Do you know the difference between a sponsor and a mentor? Check out the article/case study on my site entitled: “Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women.” Click here!
To your success! -TB