Systems and results.
I’ve always been interested in how things work, which led to majoring in computer science. How hardware, software, even people processes are designed to produce results. So this tweet has stuck in my mind because it succinctly links the results of what’s happening (and has been happening) in Corporate America and what’s happening (and has been happening) in the country to the same system.
I’ve been in Corporate America for 13 years and don’t think I’ve ever had 2%, let alone 3% of my coworkers being black. The number of black coworkers has actually shrunk over the last couple years. The year 2020 sounded so futuristic yet here we are going backwards.
0% of the executive pool being black is 100% accurate. In fact, you’d have to go down 6 job levels from the CEO to find a black employee. 6! How do I know? Because I am that employee.
I am that employee who notices that no one looks like me in every meeting. I am that employee who has never been able to look up to a more senior person who looks like me at my own company— a privilege afforded to +98% of my coworkers. I am that employee who rhetorically wonders how could not one of the incredibly talented coworkers in our employee resource group be a people manager. I am that employee who sees how difficult it is for women of color in tech to be promoted. I am that employee who was anxious about switching roles, even though I knew it was time, because leaving that role would mean no representation of POC in many strategic meetings.
None of this is accidental. It’s by design. It’s experienced all over the country. Theses are the intended results of a system of oppression and racism spanning hundreds of years. A system that puts barrier after barrier in front of black people.
If we make it through most of the barriers and into a salaried position, we’re hit with a new of set of workplace barriers including less pay, lack of support, microaggressions. Through it all, we manage to not only survive but thrive. It’s exhausting though, much more than it should be. Too many rising stars burn out before they peak.
If you’re White and trying to figure out where to go from here to help produce equitable results, here are a few ways to get started:
First, understand the goal can not be to alter or tweak the system of oppression and racism. Tweaking will not produce meaningful, long lasting results. The system has to be dismantled altogether. Second, believe in yourself that you can contribute to building a new system designed for equity.
If you have black coworkers, read this: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/05/9841376/black-trauma-george-floyd-dear-white-people
If you want to be an ally, read these, starting with the top. Digital rentals are free with a library account. I unfortunately cannot remember who recommended this specific set of books. (If you happen to be reading this, please let me know so I can give you credit)
If you a parent, here’s a list of resources: https://childrensalliance.org/resource/talking-about-racism-resources-parents-and-caregivers. The next generation will be critical to building/maintaining a new system however they will need your help. Learned behaviors start at home.
By no means is the above meant to be an exhaustive list. It’s a start. An introduction to do what’s right. And it may be uncomfortable, but that’s OK. Change often is.
The time is always right to do what is right. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Silence is Compliance.