Inclusivity includes black introverts
By Jeri Bingham
Upon entering any room, the first characteristics noticed are my skin color and gender. One may not know my heritage or gender identity but may assume that I’m of African descent and female. These characteristics, evident to the observer, are what may frame the beginning of our relationship, even before introductions or the exchange of words. Perception is the reality for many and often drives biases, assumptions, behaviors, and even decisions.
Imagine a world without bias…what would it really take to get there?
Let us consider, if for a moment, a world devoid of bias, judgment, or preconceived beliefs. Imagine a place where every person would be accepted, evaluated, and rewarded solely on their skills and abilities. In this utopia, Black introverts would be accepted without being misunderstood, and the intersectionality of personality type, gender, and race would be a lens for understanding and changing outcomes.
To achieve this kind of world, it’s critical to recognize how the simultaneous impact of introversion and one’s racial identity can create modes of discrimination and privilege.
In the current racial pandemic, some Black executives have reported that in addition to presenting a more extraverted side of themselves at the office, they must maintain a delicate balance between comforting the majority (non-Black colleagues), while educating and working towards an anti-racist movement.
The added pressure to appease feelings and alleviate fears feels very much like an additional part-time job to help the majority understand us in a way that’s most comfortable for them. This additional role — which does not add true value or impact the organization’s bottom line, but is merely to soothe the fears of others — is exhausting.
Nonetheless, it is often a requirement to start building the framework for success, which begins with gaining trust of leadership.
Why Black Introverts may carry an additional ‘burden of proof’
Introversion is about energy and how individuals wish to receive it. But when a dash of Blackness is added, this intersectionality changes the playing field, as Black introverts are required to reassure others that they belong.
Black introverted leaders are forced to navigate a duality that’s exhaustive.
The preconceived notions, pre-judgments, and misunderstandings are mis-guided and unwarranted. Too bad Black introverts can’t just strategize, plan and execute without the extra effort to prove qualifications, engagement and their excitement to be there.
According to field research through podcast episodes, panel discussions and conversations, it’s quite evident that extraverted behaviors have no impact on delivering, reaching or exceeding goals.
Black introverted leaders are creative, intuitive, empathetic, analytical and independent. Black introverted leaders bring a different perspective based on their unique experiences, as well as their keen skills of listening and observation.
These highly motivated individuals — adept at collaboration, building talent, driving results, and inspiring teams — get the job done.
Inclusivity must include personality type
As the world continues with remote work and slowly moves back into the office, employers must try to understand that everyone is different. See each person individually, accept them for who they are, and get to know them at the level they allow.
In the ongoing conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the rallying cry is to meet people where they are, and to accept and include those who choose to be acknowledged differently.
Inclusivity must extend beyond race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and must also extend to personality type.
Inclusivity includes introverts.
Inclusivity includes Black introverts.
Although we live in a culture of noise, it is imperative that employers fine-tune, lean in, hear, and recognize their introverted talent. Employers must feel responsible and accountable for giving every employee an equal opportunity to succeed.
About the Author
A self-proclaimed introvert strategist and founder of HushLoudly, a WGNradio.com podcast, Jeri Bingham is dedicated to amplifying the voices of introverts. She is the founder of Black Introvert Week (February 8–15) and has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and Color Magazine. She is a contributing writer for Rolling Out and has been interviewed on its AM Wake Up Call show.