Being a Person of Color in Corporate America

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The year of 2020 has brought about many changes in the world due to the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and several other innocent people of color who were victims of police brutality. Now more than ever, corporate America has been speaking out more about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Corporations are doing what they can to enforce equality in the workplace but is that enough? 

Many people of color in corporate America have had to continuously deal with racial discrimination in the workplace.  A USA TODAY analysis shows that “while corporations and boardrooms have added African Americans over the decades, the executive suite has not, even at companies that have diverse boards.” It is no surprise that this continues to happen in corporate America. Some of the most famous and influential brands such as Apple and Facebook have this issue within their workplace.

Less than 2% of top executives at the 50 largest companies are Black

Of the 279 top executives listed in the proxy statements, only five, or 1.8%, were Black, including two who recently retired. For many years, corporate America has been slacking on promoting, and hiring black employees and is still struggling to do so. Many of the white leaders in corporate America are simply used to hiring within their own comfort level or hiring from within. This includes references from friends and relatives who more closely resemble what they look like. This racial divide has worsened and will continue to worsen if it is not improved. 

Businesses and corporations are missing out on what they could have and being better able to serve the market with a divide of this nature. Many people of color have always felt like “The Only One in the Room” and continue to feel this way in corporate America. An article posted in Bloomberg highlights the stories of black men and women and how it feels being black on Wall Street. Curtis Johnson, managing director in Carlyle Group Inc.’s investor relations team said, “You’re going to be in a room with people from different walks of life. And when you find yourself in that analyst class with kids from colleges all over the country, don’t worry. You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned your spot. You are enough. You are enough.”

Today, more and more corporations are starting to take an initiative to help resolve this issue by doing what they can to help the black community. Netflix and other large brands recently announced that they are donating millions of dollars to support Black communities and Back colleges. In the end, it means more to do something powerful and courageous to get to where the world needs to be, than to just add a Black member to your team in order to meet a particular quota.

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