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raceAhead: Getting the Feedback You Need

“You have to own your own development.”

Hector Padilla, Home Depot’s senior vice president of store operations, recently shared that simple, but powerful piece of advice given to him years ago by his mentor. As Padilla recalls, he wanted to move up in the company and needed a blueprint. “She told me to write down my own strengths and weaknesses every three months,” he said. “And that’s your plan to grow. It’s up to you.”

For employees of color, it’s a uniquely helpful exercise. First, it helps you focus on your knowledge and experience gaps, and turn them into concrete goals, instead of hazy anxieties. Next, it expands your network as you search for expertise and advice. (You’ll need a diverse network if you want to succeed in corporate life, and the sooner you start building and contributing to a wide network, the better off you’ll be.)

And best of all, it gives you a smart reason to turn the leaders around you into short-term coaches. “What you hear from diverse candidates is that they often don’t get the feedback that they need, or any feedback at all – and they wonder why. ‘Is it because I’m black?’” says Debbie Dyson corporate vice president, client experience and continuous improvement for ADP. “And that creates a reluctance to engage, and ask those tough questions about how you’re doing.”

Dyson says that it’s incumbent on employees of color to create those two-way feedback channels, particularly with white managers. “It’s important to signal that you’re curious about growth and take feedback seriously.”

And white managers and other leaders need to step up their game when asked. Research shows that mentorship – even “mini-mentorships” when folks weigh in on a specific issue, rather than over an extended period of time – works well as an inclusion tactic, not only for the benefit it brings the mentee. “When we work together on a common goal, like growth, it humanizes people who may be different from you,” says Dyson.

It worked for Padilla. In addition to rising up the ranks, he now has a literal paper trail of his own growth. “It was great advice because it really forced me to think about what I needed,” he said. “And who I wanted to be.”


On Point

The New York Times changes how it covers raceInstead of assigning a single story or reporter to handle the race beat, the newspaper has created a team of journalists from various departments in the newsroom – including national, metro, sports, video and photography – to conceive and nurture stories based on race from where they sit. It’s a collaborative approach that diverges from the Times’ traditional desk structure to create “coverage clusters.”Poynter

The lifetime wage gap for women of color, broken down by state
Black women will lose $877,480 and Latina women will lose $1 million over the course of a 40-year career compared to white, non-Hispanic men. The “lifetime wage gap” for women of color exists in every state across the country—and career losses based on the current wage gap would amount to more than $1 million in six states and D.C.
National Women's Law Center

A Nigerian chef hosts difficult conversations about race
Nigerian chef Tunde Wey has created a traveling dinner series called Blackness in America, in which he and guests moderate difficult discussions – about race, violence, poverty, policing, feminism, black hair, the whole gamut – over delicious Nigerian meals. Growing up in Nigeria where everyone is black, race didn’t become an issue until he moved to the U.S. “There is no part of me that attaches my social status or economic condition to the color of my skin.”
Washington Post

Four black creative executives have launched an anti-bias project
Four high-ranking African American creative executives – including one each from Apple/Beats by Dre and CAA – have joined forces to create Saturday Morning – a creative coalition to address racial bias and violence to “build awareness, promote change and shift the overall perception that black lives are not as important as others.” Their first project will be announced this fall.
Campaign Live

Religious and ethnic diversity is changing America
Around 45% of Americans identify themselves as both white and Christian, a marked difference from one hundred years ago. As the country become more diverse in every sense, including embracing other religious and non-institutional belief systems, researchers think that the country is becoming less religious as a whole.
Five Thirty Eight

Donald Trump fails to campaign in African American neighborhoods
Even though he’s been invited to speak at black churches, at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and at other venues, the candidate continues to speak to primarily white audiences about how great he’d be for the blacks.

Racists are now called ‘racialists’ and they like Donald Trump
White nationalists, also known as the ‘alt-right’ for the Alternative Right website for those who are opposed to immigration and multi-culturalism –believe that Donald Trump’s recent speeches speak directly to their hearts and minds. Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign manager, is an expert at packaging white nationalist sentiment and stories.
Washington Post

The Woke Leader

How gay Ugandans deal with a faith that tests them
There are few writers who have dedicated as much time to understanding the unique and often painful intersection of faith and the LGBTQ community as Jeff Chu. In this must-read dispatch, Chu and co-writer Timothy Meinch travel to Uganda to report on the discriminatory, anti-gay government and the many activists working for change. Homosexuality is illegal in three dozen African nations, a relic of colonial-era anti-gay laws written by Europeans.

How teacher diversity helps students of color
A new policy brief posits that moving away from a majority-white teacher workforce would bring three distinct benefits: Positive role-modeling, higher expectations for kids of color, and an inherent cultural sensitivity that would influence curriculum and instructional content. I would argue that white kids would benefit from all of the above, too.
Brookings Institute

What would Nat Turner do about Nate Parker and his rape accusation?
Writer T.D. Williams has published a thoughtful piece on the conundrum that faces moviegoers of every hue, as they sort out how to feel about Nate Parker, the director and star of The Birth of a Nation, a big-screen adaptation of Nat Turner’s story. For Williams, denying a worldwide epidemic of violence against women is at the heart of the issue. “[F]ighting for a principle is the only thing that can unite us in social betterment.”
The Root


The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie