It is Time for Black Leaders and Executives to Up Our Game - Patricia Golden Webb

As a former senior executive and Chief HR Officer (CHRO), I questioned what I could have done differently, or what more could I have done to impact Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in my organizations. I believe I could have done more.

The Honorable Congresswoman, Maxine Waters, famously stated “I reclaim my time.” I surely can’t reclaim the time I served as a leader in my previous roles. However, I believe I have the opportunity now to up my game on the boards that I currently serve on and the organizations that I am presently a member of. Also, I believe that it is time for all Black leaders and executives to Up Our Game to impact D&I in the organizations in which we are leaders and in the communities in which we live and serve.

Many organizations have D&I initiatives and programs and have published statements declaring their commitment to creating an inclusive work environment. These efforts are necessary and should continue. However, progress has been slow. Bold and additional efforts are needed to increase the pace of progress.

Black executives that are in the room where the action happens and who are sitting at the tables where decisions are made, have to level up now. Here are a few ways to do just that:

· Ensure “Your” team is diverse. Hold yourself and the leaders that report to you accountable. Be a role model in hiring, promoting, and retaining a diverse team.

· Be comfortable with hiring and or promoting more than one person on your team that looks like you. Oftentimes, we hesitate to hire or promote too many black leaders at one time for fear that someone might question our motives. Generally, this is not the case when more than one nondiverse leader is hired or promoted simultaneously.

· Challenge the notion that if a Black individual is not successful in a role, their successor can not be Black. We must dismiss our personal bias on this issue and challenge others to do so.

· Require executive search firms as well as your internal recruiters to always present a diverse slate of well-qualified candidates. Many times, diverse slates are presented with diverse talent that is minimally qualified.

· Ensure your organization has a robust leadership development and succession planning process that include diverse talent. The plan should have specific timelines and measurable goals that leaders are held accountable to achieve.

· Connect with appropriate community organizations to increase your visibility in your community. Potential diverse talent needs to see leaders who look like them in your organization.

This list is surely not all-inclusive. There are numerous opportunities for Black executives and board members to up our game to increase the pace of D&I in organizations. The time is now to be bold, intentional, and unapologetic. We must make it happen while we are in the rooms and at the tables where it happens.

Let’s Up Our Game!

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