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Support Black Women At Work

If you want to celebrate Women’s History Month, support the black and brown women in your workplace. But you might want to skip the tribute lunches or “lean-in” style pep talks.

This is the premise of a new article published in HBR from Zuhairah Washington, an SVP at Expedia Group and Laura Morgan Roberts, a consultant and professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, who made the case so well that I scrapped an essay on the same topic.

As a peer or manager, your first step should be to understand how the experiences of black women differ from other people in the workforce, and in particular, white or majority-culture women.

They begin with the ambition: Some 64 percent of black women told Nielsen that their goal is to make it to the top of their professions. We’re well-educated, and leadership bound. According to Lean In/McKinsey, some 83 percent of Asian women, 80 percent of black women, and 76 percent of Latinas say they want to be promoted, compared to 75 percent of men and 68 percent of white women.

We’re persisting, but not represented.

After promising starts, we begin losing women of color in the leadership pipeline after they transition into their first leadership jobs, and then at increasingly alarming rates until they become woefully underrepresented in senior leadership and executive suites. On corporate boards. In the informal networks where people find sponsors, mentors, and developmental assignments. And while we are at work, we often feel the “emotional tax” of being twice an underrepresented group, not-white and not-male.

Washington and Roberts have a six-point plan to help any organization better retain their black, female talent – the most important overall tactic might be to make sure your firm checks for the compounding bias of gender and race in reviews, promotions, and hiring. Most firms don’t. “Tracking the performance of women of color and the velocity and rate at which they’re hired and promoted versus their peers is the only way to measure progress in creating a more diverse leadership bench.”

But a lot of what they talk about are the simple steps that any ally can take every day, in small but meaningful ways.

Here are two. Be welcoming and then, be acknowledging.

“Being the only woman of color on a team can be extremely taxing,” they say. “You’re torn between authenticity and assimilating.” They opt-out of social gatherings and are less likely to share details of their personal lives. “Managers can help employees overcome this hesitation by extending a personal invitation to attend office gatherings and making it clear that they look forward to getting to know them better.”

And then, make sure these women are not invisible. Managers should be aware of the common biases operating against black women, they say, such as the research that shows black women’s statements were remembered less quickly and less accurately than those of their white female and male peers. “Managers should make people more aware of this unconscious bias and openly call out instances where good work is being underappreciated or ignored.”

I would add that these two moves would also be beneficial for Asian American professional women, many of whom have almost no shot of making it up the leadership ladder, for a variety of vexing and specific reasons.

But it’s important to add that all of this is more than just checking a box, being kind, or appearing woke. Being an ally actually takes some effort on your part.

If you want to make people feel seen, you have to be able to see them – and all the humanity and potential they bring to their jobs. Understanding why you haven’t before now is part of that work.

On Point

Uber’s top lawyer rolls up his sleevesTony West is many things: Uber’s chief legal officer, a former Department of Justice official, and husband to Maya Harris, whose sister, Kamala is running for U.S. President. So, he’s clearly busy. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi lured West from Pepsico specifically for his experience, temperament, and preternatural calm, to help him on his quest to stabilize and “professionalize” a post-Kalanick world. West got to work, negotiating high profile issues, like a multi-state settlement over a data breach and a trades secret suit involving Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car business. But challenges still abound. For one thing, West plans to release the company’s sexual harassment transparency report this year. “He is very upfront about the fact that it’s not going to be pretty,” says his deputy counsel.New York Times

Extreme hate speech online is growing
A survey conducted by YouGov for the Anti-Defamation League shows that people are facing extreme harassment and hate online in increasing numbers. The survey samples 1,134 respondents and examined a subset of people identifying as Jewish, Muslim, African American, Asian American, or LGBTQ+. Of those reporting extreme harassment, 32 percent said they were being targeted for their sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, gender identity, or disability. Most changed their behaviors or withdrew on the platforms, only 18 percent asked the companies to intervene. The biggest platform in terms of overall volume was Facebook by far, but when the researchers focused on daily users, then the gaming platform Twitch topped the list, followed by Reddit.
Wired

Tamron Hall has a lot going on right now
Not only will she be back on television this September with her own daytime talk show, Tamron Hall,the famously private journalist is also working on another production: Her first child. She announced on Instagram that she’s 32 weeks along and had been given a green light to share the news. Her new show launches on 9/9/19, produced by Disney/ABC and syndicated by Hearst Television.
Essence

Televisa star Yessica Rosales does a brownface impression of Yalitza Aparicio, isn’t sorry
Rosales is a star of Televisa’s La Parodia(or “parody” show) and is currently under fire for her brownface comedic portrayal of Oscar-nominated actor Yalitza Aparicio. Her performance has resurrected a painful conversation about images of Indigenous people in Latin American media, history, and casual racism. Click through for lots of context and commentary, and a response from the show to The Associated Press. While condemning all forms of racism, “We do not believe that the production of ‘La Parodia’ engages in this type of practice,” a Televisa spokesperson said via email.
Latino Rebels

 

On Background

The earlier history of Africans in the colonies
It’s been 400 years since some “20 and odd Negroes” were brought by a Dutch ship to Jamestown to be enslaved in the colonies. But in the sixteenth century, Africans both free and enslaved lived in the southern regions of what is now the U.S. Many of their activities have been recorded and preserved in a variety of ways, including Catholic Church records associated with the first permanent non-Indigenous settlement in St. Augustine, Florida. The Spanish settlers were Catholic and offered asylum for enslaved Africans who were fleeing Protestant colonies and willing to be baptized  – causing all kinds of drama with the enslavers. But it also created a rich and vibrant multi-cultural community. By 1738, some 100 formerly enslaved people had made their way to Florida and lived as free citizens in their own town. (h/t Raceahead reader David Kipp.)
The Conversation

A place where people who believe very different things get along
The place is Watertown, New York, home to cold winters and Fort Drum, the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. According to a new analysis by The Atlantic, it’s also one of the most politically tolerant counties in the entire country. The analysis itself is a fascinating idea, and there’s a lot to be learned from the work. Political demonization is taking a real toll on the country: they find the most judgmental partisans aren’t the vulnerable ones. They tend to be white, urban, older, highly educated, politically engaged, and politically segregated. Watertown is mostly white, a different, but very real, problem. But their populations is the opposite of the most virulent partisans in every other way.
The Atlantic

How to make things easier for people with autism
Stop reinforcing toxic parenting myths, says writer and consultant Sara Luterman. She is autistic and takes clear aim at the idea her parents’ multi-decade marriage is a miracle because they survived her arrival and subsequent care. “An oft-repeated claim holds that 80 percent of marriages with an autistic child end in divorce,” she says, a stat with no basis in fact and yet will not die. A lack of understanding about a relatively common disability does more damage, she asserts. She thinks that parents of autistic children are more fearful for their children’s prospects, which makes them feel more negative toward parenting in general. Isn’t this a different problem with a different solution?
Washington Post

Quote

Thirty years ago, when I started working—literally the chances of me making it were worse than minuscule.  We should be saying ‘hooray’ to the people of Xerox. We should be giving them a medal.
—Ursula Burns