I don’t know about you but I’m tired. The pandemic, the economic insecurity, gun violence, the war overseas, racial battle fatigue — it’s all been a lot to deal with. And my own male privilege protects me from what Black women deal with in the corporate world today.
Using Hollywood as just one example, just in the last month, six Black women have quit leadership roles at film studios and, Variety reports, "more BIPOC executives are expected to join them in the coming weeks." Most of these women are Diversity and Inclusion heads who were hired after the summer of 2020 to improve the industry, reacting in horror to the murder of George Floyd and growing protests like #OscarsSoWhite. The impulse to help was there but it hasn’t been backed up with real financial support and resources, especially now that the entire industry is slashing budgets.
In every industry, the disturbing trend continues. Black women in corporate leadership roles are being set up to fail. Tiffany Cross was hired by MSNBC in late 2020 to host The Cross Connection, a news show putting Black issues at the centre. In November 2022, the show was cancelled. Cross wrote in a statement, "Fresh off the heels of a 'racial reckoning,' as so many have called it, we see that with progress, there is always backlash." Black women were hired to "fix the problem" of racism but given little support and after three years of this, these women are exhausted.
I’ve talked before about my own Racial Battle Fatigue and I especially admire Dr. Joy deGruy, a professor of social work at Portland State University who works with Black youth and is leading the discussion of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, examining how the generational oppression of African, Caribbean and Black people and their descendants through institutional racism continues to harm people.
This is not a problem that can be solved by a couple of unconscious bias training videos and hiring a single person to transform the workplace culture of an entire company. Change must come from the top as well. As the saying goes, heard repeatedly these past three years, "we’re all in this together," but slashing DEI budgets and firing diversity executives says otherwise and it’s a huge step backwards.
"If companies see it as a quick and easy solution, they’re taking a big risk," Jen Anthony recently told The Globe and Mail. The senior vice-president at FleishmanHillard HighRoad and chair of the HR and governance committee at Pride at Work Canada explained how companies shuttering DEI work are telling their employees from marginalized communities that they’re no longer valuable. "When employees don’t see themselves reflected, when they don’t see themselves as being important, they start to look around for new opportunities," Anthony says, which is exactly what so many brilliant Black women are doing now, in greater numbers than ever.
In February 2023, The Harris Poll on behalf of Hue released a survey of 3000 American workers that found that, despite initial promises, "BIPOC employees report little progress since June 2020. Most notably, four in five report that their employer has not increased recruiting efforts toward racially diverse hiring and say their workplace has not made meaningful progress on building a more equitable environment for Employees of Color."
Now is not the time to turn away from a better future for Black women, or anyone else. Especially when it’s been shown, again and again, that more diverse management teams make better decisions and more money. Breakfast Culture has helped many organizations create better workplace cultures and our work continues. On Wednesday, September 20th at 1pm ET, we’re hosting our latest free webinar on the benefits of a diversity and inclusion journey. We hope you’ll join us if you haven’t already or spread the word to other organizations. Let’s keep moving forward.
Breakfast Culture's approach improves workplace cultures and drives new sources of revenue. Schedule a talk on Calendly with Jefferson Darrell today to learn more: https://calendly.com/jefferson7/30min
Let's Break Some Eggs! – Jefferson Darrell, Founder and CEO, Breakfast Culture™ Inc.