Talent Insights Thursday, October 1, 2020

Courageous Conversations: Racial Equity and Inclusion of Professional Women of Color Event Recap

Power of Women in partnership with Equitable- Courageous Conversations: Racial Equity and Inclusion of Professional Women of Color Event Recap


Moderator: Monifa Drayton, Certified Executive Coach

Vicky Free, Novant Health
Geraldine Gardner, Centralina Regional Council
Janet LaBar, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance
Brandy Mickens, Equitable Advisors
Simone Rixey, Wells Fargo

While this conversation addressed several racial equity issues, the purpose was to create awareness around what professional women of color face in the workplace and how our allies can be supportive and put action items in place to foster change.  These uncomfortable conversations are needed to identify and create tangible outcomes.  Panel members responded with the lens of being leaders, parents, sisters, aunts, etc., and expressed how challenging these times have been.  The fire has been burning for some time, however, some are seeing and experiencing this for the first time.


Tone-policing was discussed which is when the tone of a particular issue becomes more important than the actual message.  Women are often tone-policed (and policing themselves) when they expressing a level of energy, passion or emotion and directed to change their tone.  Panel members experiencing this expressed how they were asked to defer more, use softer words, or told they are being aggressive. This translates in to women feeling like they don’t belong, sometimes triggering imposter syndrome.  In these cases, it’s important that women be strategic in supporting each other in how we show up.  Fear oftentimes drives behavior.  Getting outside of your comfort zone, finding allies and supporters and being authentic is the best angle in achieving your goal.

In legislation, the Crown Act was passed which permits and allows people to wear their ethnic hair the way that it grows from the scalp to work.  What we are seeing as a result is what is permissible or seen as professional.  Panel members talked about reactions to braids, natural curls patterns, locks, etc., as opposed to wearing straighter styles and subscribing to a more corporate philosophy.  While being thoughtful in understanding and educating yourself on hair culture can be helpful, many of the panelists and attendees commented it’s more important to boldly pivot the conversations to the value we bring rather than focusing so much on appearance.

We mentioned the Imposter Syndrome earlier which can show up in many different ways for women.  One of which, is just not going after opportunities that we are qualified for because there oftentimes are not enough personal cheerleaders telling us we are qualified and experienced enough.  Surround yourself with mentors and sponsors that keep you encouraged and work to build meaningful relationships.  Allies must provide opportunities for growth for women of color.  

Posted by: Cherise Walker, Vice President, Talent Insights @ 12:00:00 am


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