The general consensus is that our world has become much more accepting and welcoming of different races, belief systems, lifestyles, and interests than it was half a century, or a whole century ago. While some of this is true I challenge everyone to consider whether or not we are as far along as we think. We have made progress, but is there still progress that can and should be made? Here are five signs that show that the professional world is still in need of reform.
1. Most job boards still have “diversity and inclusion” job announcements.
I get what these were established for, but if we have to coerce companies into hiring a diverse workforce that includes multiple perspectives outside of the norm, then it sounds like we are simply “checkboxing” away discrimination rather than doing the actual work to correct it. I will go out on a limb and say that blatant bigotry is actually better for us. At least then I can be certain of which companies to stay away from because they don’t like women or don’t care to provide advancement to black people like myself.
2. We have not seen another black woman rise to the position of CEO of a Fortune 500 Company since 2009.
I got my MBA in 2016, and while studying for it I was so excited to learn about Ursula Burns and her journey from simply working at Xerox, to becoming the first woman to ever succeed another female CEO of a Fortune 500, to her becoming the first black woman to become CEO at a Fortune 500 company. Ursula became CEO of Xerox in 2009, and since this, we have not seen another black woman obtain the same status. Yet, we know by the enrollment data that black women are attending and graduating from college, many with advanced degrees. Shouldn’t there be more of us in the board room by now?
3. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Uber, and others are being hit hard with sexual assault claims, lawsuits, and walkouts.
These are some of the most popular and valuable companies in the world that substantially thrive on the trust of the public. But insiders at these companies are telling us different stories. One company, XPO Logistics, which at one point handled warehouse fulfillment for Verizon, reportedly created unsafe work conditions by not providing air conditioning to a facility in Memphis, TN. The excessive heat and rigorous fulfillment expectations on staff led to the death of a black female worker who had complained of chest pains and asked for additional break time to accommodate her deteriorating condition. She was denied a break and later collapsed on the job and the remaining crew working that day were instructed not to touch her and to continue fulfilling orders that day. No, that wasn’t a story from 1920, it was from 2018. Read about it here: https://tri-statedefender.com/dueling-narratives-escalate-xpo-logistics-employee-accusations/10/10/
4. Recruiters and HR personnel are making hiring and firing decisions based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
I’m a huge fan of the MBTI as a starting tool for examining the priorities and interests that motivate people. Some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts, and we all base our decision-making on a different order of factors. In some cases, we have competing values, as well. These are useful for helping a person identify what avenues to take to ensure that their greatest strengths are utilized; it also lets individuals identify their weaknesses and how those can be improved upon, and how they can find fulfillment in what they do based on their personality type. However, the authors of this tool never intended for it to be used as the basis for hiring and firing people. So then, why are human resource departments using the MBTI to screen applicants? Hasn’t the abysmal online application and screening system weeded enough people out? Oh, and don’t forget to say thank you if you do get an interview, or that might also serve as a screen to pull you out of the running. I digress…
5. Our nation is more divided than it has been in a long time, and that doesn’t appear to be coming to an end any time soon.
According to Oscar Wilde, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” I think life imitates politics as well, in that the behaviors that are modeled for us in this country by our leaders have trickle-down effects to the citizens living here. The US is not interested in providing opportunities to the disadvantaged because, “Why should we? Those people think like that and therefore they deserve what they get!” An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and our world is certainly bumping around in the dark with cataracts right now.
There you have it. In a world that is so “diverse” and “global,” there are still glaring issues that all black women should be aware of when entering and navigating the workforce. While finding happiness in a traditional corporate job is not impossible, these issues paint the grim picture that motivates many black women to start businesses of their own.
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. When she is not advising clients, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.