ELC Research Journal - Winter 2020

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The Executive Leadership Council Journal

A Research Journal for Black Professionals WINTER 2020

The Executive Leadership Council Journal

A Research Journal for Black Professionals

Copyright Š 2020 by The Executive Leadership Council, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. ISBN 978-0-578-64060-0

Contents Foreword........................................................................................................ 1 by Crystal E. Ashby, Interim President and CEO, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) Letter from the Editor...................................................................................... 2 Jump Start Diversity at The Highest Level - The Board...................................... 3 by Crystal E. Ashby and Justina Victor The Workplace Isn’t Equal for Black Women. Here’s How Companies Can Change That....................................................... 14

by Raena Saddler and Rachel Thomas

Black Men in Corporate America: Ambitious, Driven, and Blocked From the C-Suite....................................................................... 22

by Skip Spriggs, Pooja Jain-Link, and Julia Taylor Kennedy

It’s Time for Companies to Step Up — Or Pay the Price.................................. 34

by Nina Shaw and Tina Tchen

Black Brew Movement: What The Future of Diversity in Craft Beer Means for African American Business Owners, Investors, and Students.......... 39

by Courtney I. Brown, MA

The Authenticity Challenge............................................................................ 44

by Cindy R. Kent

About the Contributors.................................................................................. 50

Foreward I have had the privilege of serving The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) as a participant in one of The ELC’s premier Institute programs, as a member, as a Board Director, and now as Interim President and CEO. So, I can confidently say that for over three decades, The ELC continues to solidify its reputation in the business community as the go-to and trusted source for information on and for blacks in business. So this journal is not just any journal - it is a journal from a valued and trusted resource. In 2020, the beginning of a new decade, The ELC continues to be an innovative leader in the community on behalf of our members, amongst business leaders, and through the organization’s brand. The ELC is excited to share our latest contribution to black thought leadership with the launch of a new initiative - the Research Journal for Black Professionals. Our goal is to share more research and elevate the thought leadership around blacks in business through sharing more research, op-eds, and compelling stories. These bodies of work will open opportunity for the development and advancement of the black executive experience which will positively impact the businesses and communities where we work and our families live. In everything we do, we recognize we didn’t get there alone and that success is founded on partnership and relationships. As this journal highlights, we partner to drive action in diversity, inclusion and equity. I thank all the authors that contributed to our inaugural journal. To our members - we hope you see yourselves reflected in these pages as you enjoy reading. Crystal E. Ashby Interim President and CEO The Executive Leadership Council


Letter from the Editor A wise woman once quoted a familiar proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It just so happens this wise woman is Crystal E. Ashby, Interim President and CEO at The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and those words couldn’t be any truer. Since 1986, the mission of The ELC has been to increase the number of black professionals in the C-Suite and on corporate boards by providing development programs to strengthen the pipeline and by providing research for the black community. The ELC is moving together with its members and partners to go far and to go successfully. It is our members who have allowed this journal to take flight and who will ensure its value for years to come as we continue to advance blacks in business. The ELC’s Institute for Leadership Development and Research presents this peer reviewed research journal with pride, as an extension of our mission, to share the information that is the experience of black professionals. As the preeminent membership organization for black professionals, The ELC feels it is our duty to provide research that speaks to the black professional experience and that of our community. The focus of this first edition is on workforce development with articles written by contributors who lay the foundation of need for greater exposure to the black corporate experience. Whether it is the absence of black representation in corporate board positions, the marginalization of and lack of support for black women, black men in corporate America or the balancing act of being authentic at your job, the articles in this edition cover a variety of topics that are sure to spark initiatives to implement the strategies highlighted in each of them. Future editions of this journal will cover varied topics toward specific industries. Thank you to The ELC Board and ELC members for their ongoing support and contributions to this journal and the journals of the future. A special thank you to ELC staff, especially Justina Victor, and to our Interim President and CEO for guiding the path to ensure we go far together. Christopher Butts, Ed.D. Vice President/Chief Learning Officer for the Institute for Leadership Development & Research The Executive Leadership Council


Jump Start Diversity at The Highest Level – The Board by Crystal E. Ashby and Justina Victor The Executive Leadership Council’s Institute for Leadership Development & Research aims to strengthen the talent pipeline of black leaders, providing toprate leadership programs that focus on individual growth at different career levels.

CRYSTAL E. ASHBY is the interim President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council

JUSTINA VICTOR is a senior research manager of The Executive Leadership Council


HELPS ORGANIZATIONS reap unmistakable competitive advantages. Everything from increases in innovation to financial performance to building confidence in a brand has been linked to diversity gains. And it’s clear that the closer a company’s leadership gets to diversity goals, the more in-touch with its own market it gets. Diversity helps companies stay ahead of changing trends, too. It turns out that the companies with the most diverse leadership are the most agile and best able to adapt to new pressures like severe talent shortages and new technologies that change the way business is done. DIVERSITY

So why does the U.S. still lag on the global stage when it comes to diversity at the highest levels of corporate leadership? And how can U.S. businesses change practices that keep underrepresented groups out of the C-suite? The answers to these questions may be just beginning to emerge. But one thing is clear: for the U.S. to maintain a competitive edge in the global economy, the nation’s leading corporations must respond to mounting investor, legislative, and public pressure to jump-start diversity at the highest level – the boardroom. On this stage, the question of black leadership – who will lead and how – is timelier and more essential than ever. Current events underscore the societal role board leaders play in keeping public interests accountable to race issues with the power of private business behind them. And black directors wield economic influence at the highest levels – shaping the



policies that guide how companies create opportunities for diversity in the workforce, how their buying power supports minority-owned small businesses, and how young black executives are trained and prepared to step into new leadership positions.

The good news: corporate board diversity has made promising gains Recent studies paint a picture of diversity and, specifically, black representation, or lack thereof, in America’s corporate boardrooms. It’s clear that the benefits of diversity are overwhelmingly positive. And the good news is that corporate board diversity is at an all-time high. Also clear is that collective gains for women and minorities have been minimal in recent years. The slow rate of change in the board room – as illustrated by the low gains – is out of step with the mounting economic and societal pressure for diversity. The need to implement new strategies and policies and overcome obstacles to the boardroom is a clear mandate for current, aspiring, and veteran black business leaders. Here we examine two studies that illustrate where blacks are gaining board seats, where they are not, and how we may influence the rate of board diversity gains by looking at global successes for other minority groups, like women. The Missing Pieces Report lays out a comprehensive baseline for diversity in Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Global Board Diversity Analysis focuses globally on women. The study provides a good overall picture of how the U.S. ranks globally on board diversity by gender and may have broader lessons on how all minority groups can successfully add board seats.

Despite progress on diversity levels, the percentage of total board seats held by blacks and other minority groups is still low. ■■ In 2018, just over 16 percent of all board seats in the Fortune 500 were held by minorities, including blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics/Latino(a)s.1

■■ Black board members make up the largest minority group by race on the

Fortune 500. Across the Fortune 100, they hold 136 board seats which represent 11.1 percent of all the board seats by race and ethnicity (compared to 54 seats and 4.4 percent for Hispanics/Latinos and 46 seats or 3.8 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders).2



The Missing Pieces Report: The 2018 Board Diveristy Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards, is a multiyear study published by Alliance for Board Diversity, collaborating with Deloitte for the 2018 Census. The Executive Leadership Council participated in the study as an Alliance Member.

The 2018 Global Board Diversity Tracker is published yearly by Egon Zehnder, a firm that tracks gender diversity in boardrooms around the globe to explore why some countries are able to transform their boards to better represent the society around them. The study evaluates board data fron 1,610 public companies with market caps above seven billion euros in 44 different countries as of May 2018.

■■ Across the Fortune 500, black executives hold 486 seats, representative

of 8.6 percent of the total (compared to 213 seats and 3.8 percent for Hispanics/Latinos and 209 seats or 3.6 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders).3

Low turnover and lack of board experience are U.S.-specific problems that keep women, especially black women, out of the boardroom. ■■ Although there have been overall gains in board diversity, on the global

scale, progress remains very slow, aggravated by low annual turnover on boards in the U.S.4

■■ Boards continue to look for past board experience in new hires. Yet it’s a Catch-22 [by gender] because the female pool of candidates with past board experience falls so far short of the male pool, women who meet the current criteria are in great demand.5

Black board members are the most likely to serve on multiple boards and, globally, more women than men hold more than one board position. ■■ Black board members are more likely than any other group to occupy more than one seat, with the highest rate of individuals serving on multiple boards. This indicates that, rather than expanding the pool of black candidates for board membership, companies are pursuing the same individuals for these coveted seats.1



■■ According to Global Board Diversity Analysis (GBDA) research, 13 percent

of women versus 10 percent of men hold multiple board positions globally within the group of 1,491 of the largest traded companies studied.4

Black women and men within the Fortune 500 are seeing progressive growth. ■■ Black board members see progress in securing and holding Fortune

500 board seats, consistent with overall representation of diversity in the Fortune 500 where 57.4 percent of boards have greater than 30 percent board diversity.1

■■ By gender, black women gained the most board seats within the Fortune 500, where they’ve added 32 new seats since 2016. Black men in the Fortune 500 gained 26 seats since 2016.1

For women, and perhaps all minority groups, “critical mass” – three or more board members – is required for transformative change. ■■ For gender diversity to have meaningful impact at the board level,

representation by three or more women is required to reach the tipping point for change, according to diversity research on Fortune 500 companies published in Harvard Business Review in 2006.6 The U.S. is far from reaching this “critical mass” despite being an early pioneer of diversity globally.4

■■ Achieving critical mass has been a result of consistent and coordinated

action over a relatively short time. Globally, countries which have instituted ambitious board diversity quotas – meaning the government has mandated that they achieve a target percentage or risk legislative consequences – have experienced quick transformation in recent years. While effective, quotas are not the only successful solution, diversity gains can also be realized through concerted top-down efforts.4

Despite stagnation, corporate diversity challenges on gender are becoming more common, perhaps opening the door for similar challenges on race.



“We are energized to learn that African American women are one of the two largest growing groups on boards as they represent an untapped leadership potential that corporations need to embrace,” said Skip Spriggs, former President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. “Learning that African Americans still hold the highest board recycle rates of all demographic groups is disappointing. This is not a talent issue, but an access issue since a wide pool of qualified African American candidates across all industries exists. Boards must cast a wider net and consider these experienced and skilled candidates for open board seats.”

Board stagnation creates diversity stagnation According to the Missing Pieces Report, minority men and women have experienced only small gains since the Alliance for Board Diversity first started tracking Fortune 500 board diversity in 2010, up from 12.8 percent in 2010 to 16.1 percent in 2018. The total number of board seats increased during this time; there were 5,670 total board seats in the Fortune 500 in 2018, compared to 5,463 in 2010. One hard-to-measure, but compelling reason for this stagnation may be as simple as “the way Americans think about board directorships,” said Carol Singleton Slade in an interview with Fortune magazine.7 She leads Board Consulting Practice in the U.S. and also a member of Egon Zehnder’s Executive Management Committee. “There’s a cultural mindset in the U.S. that if you exit a board, it’s a sign of failure. There’s a lot of ego tied up in tenure on boards.” Such anecdotal evidence is encouraging. Suggesting that increasing diversity is as simple as increasing turnover seems a straightforward answer to accelerating diversity in the boardroom. But there are several barriers unique to the U.S. when it comes to taking measures, like imposing term limits for board seats, that might create more fluidity.

Three Barriers to Fluidity: 1. Age and Tenure First, in countries where board term limits have worked to advance diversity, directors tend to be younger (in their mid-50) with a shorter average tenure (close to six years) than their U.S. counterparts, according



to the Financial Times, which published an August 2016 investigation using data from advisory group ISS Analytics, U.S. board members are on average more than a decade older (around age 63) with a tenure that is also close to a decade long (at 8.5 years)8. These demographics could be shaping the American idea that board membership is a career capstone, rather than a stop along the way, and may be limiting the willingness of American boards to increase their turnover to create positive diversity growth rates. 2. Unstructured Removal Processes Another dynamic – a reluctance to remove underperforming or ineffective directors – is limiting board turnover, according to a study conducted by the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and The Miles Group.9 The group’s 2016 survey: Board of Director Evaluation and Effectiveness found that only 65 percent of boards have a process for removing ineffective directors, and 35 percent do not. In fact, for most companies the removal process is haphazard and dissatisfaction with it is high. Just under half of those surveyed (48 percent) believed their boards should have term limits to facilitate turnover.10 3. Perceived Lack of Experience Finally, while boards continue to cite a lack of prior board experience as a barrier to finding new, qualified directors,4 evidence is emerging that minority groups, specifically women, may have different ideas about where to look for new talent. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers PwC 2016 Annual Corporate Directors Survey, a debate over whether there is a sufficient pool of qualified diverse board candidates to fill new board positions may represent a gender divide. “Virtually all female directors say there are sufficient numbers of such people, while only about two-thirds of male directors say the same. A contributing factor cited by some is a lack of diversity in the C-suite, where many boards look for potential director candidates.”11 Boards tend to look for current or former CEOs as potential board directors. Within the C-suite, only five percent of S&P 500 CEOs are female,12 and less than one percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are black.13 This under-representation of blacks and women limits the pool so boards need to look outside the traditional structure for new board talent. PwC



found that most board members don’t look beyond the boardroom for new directors.11 Diverse talent exist below the CEO level, large nonprofits, academia, and military. Nevertheless, boards are beginning to respond to changing dynamics, such as pressure from investors and calls for diversity, to use new methods for finding new directors. In 2016, directors surveyed by PwC said that investor pressure led to board composition changes, with 34 percent adding a younger board member, 46 percent adding a diverse board member and 61 percent choosing a new board member for a specific skill set.11

PROBLEM: ■■ Slow Turnover ■■ Narrow perceived talent pool for new board hires SOLUTION: ■■ Use term limits to accelerate turnover ■■ Look at succession planning as a catalyst for change ■■ Reconsider prior board experience as a prerequisite for candidacy “Boards with a diverse mix of genders, ethnicities, career experiences, and ways of thinking have, as a result, a more diverse and aware mindset. They are less likely to succumb to groupthink or miss new threats to a company’s business model. And they are better able to identify opportunities that promote long-term growth.” — Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock

The benefits of minority representation on boards are well-established, but it may not be simple economic pressure that propels U.S. corporate leadership into a new age of rapid change when it comes to diversity. A combination of activist corporate governance and a renewed focus on succession planning may do more to dismantle the barriers to diversity than ever before. In a January 2017 feature story, The New York Times asserts that “Corporate governance is playing a growing role within the broader ecosystem of corporate America.”14 Along with that governance, the



article illustrates, comes a renewed challenge to corporations from their shareholders: address issues of diversity and the pay gap, and do something about the prevalence of old networks in the boardroom that result in “too much group think.” Indeed, PwC’s 2016 annual corporate director’s survey found that “investors are also a factor in corporate governance changes. They are pushing for changes to board composition and capital allocation strategy— and are often getting their way.” 11 Disruptive technologies are also changing the business landscape, and demand for tech-savvy leaders could be a new driver for diversity. In the ABD/Deloitte report – Missing Pieces Report: Industry View, technology, media, and telecommunications (42 percent of companies within that industry) lead industries having boards with greater than 40 percent diversity followed by life sciences and health care (38 percent of companies within that industry). In a 2017 study, Accenture examines women’s representation on the boards of more than 500 Forbes Global 2000 companies and finds that for women, technology experience is a steppingstone to the corporate boardroom.15 Meanwhile the Korn Ferry Institute, the research arm of the recruiting and leadership development firm Korn Ferry, recommends that boards embrace the succession process as a best practice, putting in place a framework for identifying “diversity executives who are up-and-coming and several years away from being exposed to board opportunities.”16 While pressures from investors, governance groups and even sitting directors shape the boardroom from within, several broader, external trends lay the groundwork for positive change.

Drivers of Improvement: ■■ Awareness is growing of the importance of diversity on performance. Pharmaceutical and financial services, two of the largest economic sectors with the broadest reach lead the DiversityInc. Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2019, continuing a multi-year trend.17

■■ High profile companies are displaying a commitment to diversity. Minority directors comprise 24 percent of the boards of companies listed on the DiversityInc list of Top 10 and Top 50 companies, according to the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, a survey of over 1,800 companies ranking them according to their commitment to diversity.18



■■ Shifting demographics are broadening the array of talent available to staff boards.

According to the 2010 census, United States’ diversity is growing. Hispanic and Asian populations have grown considerably due to higher levels of immigration. The black population totaled 38.9 million and represented 13 percent of the total population.19

■■ The number of minority-owned firms are growing. According to findings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, the number of minority-owned firms in the United States increased by 5.9 percent in 2016, to a total of 1,054,575 from 996,248 in 2015. Those firms are also growing, employing 8.7 million workers, with a total annual payroll of $280 billion, and tallying $1.3 trillion in total annual receipts.20

■■ Sarbanes-Oxley emphasizes merit-based board selection. The 2002 law imposing stringent new regulations for independent directors outlined new credentials and required candidates to demonstrate proof of experience, education, focus, and board leadership skills. Making board leadership a regulated, formal affair shifts the focus from acquiring star personalities to acquiring star performers, a move that may be helping to level the playing field.21

“The increase in boardroom diversity is encouraging and these changes have been linked to greater innovation, better financial outcomes, and increased transparency by Fortune 500 companies.” — Linda Akutagawa, chair for the Alliance for Board Diversity and president and CEO, LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics)

Variety in ethnicity, age, gender, and especially experience and training is essential to help companies prevent the kind of groupthink, unchallenged consensus, and self-confirming bias that threaten performance. As boards move away from the traditional pool of potential directors and begin to look in new places for leadership talent, corporations can take a direct role in creating the conditions necessary to accelerate diversity.



Organizations can take several actions to promote more diversity on their corporate boards: 1. Signal that they value diversity A study cited by the Harvard Business Review found that company mindsets influence how they attract potential leaders from underrepresented groups. Companies that signaled that they had a growth mindset, or one focused on the development of abilities and talents are more trusted than companies with a fixed mindset, or one that communicates more rigid ideas about ability.22 2. Rethink board composition One way to create more diverse boards is to throw out the idea that CEOs and CFOs are the optimal board members.4 Just 22 percent of the 2019 DiversityInc Top 10, and 22 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50 companies boast diverse senior management (Black, Latinos or Asians). And for all U.S. companies, their representation is only 15 percent.17 These numbers illustrate the need to look beyond the highest levels of the C-suite for diverse talent. 3. Create a sustainable pipeline As economic, societal and technological pressures push boards to look beyond traditional pools for new talent, developing diverse, boardroom - ready executives will become an essential part of long-term corporate stability. Boards globally need to start bridging the gap by applying their vision for diversity to middle and senior executive roles. Some do this by focusing on diversity in the C-suite, occasionally applying targets and linking CEO pay to diversity metrics.4 4. Broaden their ideas around diversity Narrow perspectives on diversity may be limiting for companies facing a critical need to broaden their ideas and understanding of the diversity discussion and how it fits in today’s complex business environment. Adopting wholistic goals for diversity, encompassing age, gender, race, and experience – will accelerate change faster than a focus on one demographic or group – by helping an organization break down the environment that limits diversity in the boardroom.4



Notes: 1 – The Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), Deloitte. (2018, February): The Missing Pieces Report. https://elcinstitute.org/elc/pages/RD2 2 – Ibid 3 – Ibid 4 – Egon Zehnder. (2019, February). 2018 Global Board Diversity Tracker. Retrieved from https://www.egonzehnder.com/global-board-diversity-tracker 5 – Ibid 6 – How Many Women Do Boards Need? https://hbr.org/2006/12/how-many-women-do-boards-need 7 – “1 Big Reason There Are So Few Women on U.S. Corporate Boards? Directors’ Egos,” Fortune Magazine (February, 2017). http://fortune.com/2017/02/08/board-diversity-men-ego-tenure/ 8 – “US board composition: male, stale and frail?,” Financial Times (August, 2016). https://ig.ft.com/sites/us-board-diversity/?mhq5j=e5 9 – The Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and The Miles Group. (November 2016). 2016 Board of Directors Evaluation and Effectiveness. https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/ publications/2016-survey-board-director-evaluation-effectiveness 10 – Ibid 11 – PricewaterhouseCoopers. (October 2016). PwC 2016 Annual Corporate Directors Survey. https://www. pwc.com/us/en/corporate-governance/annual-corporate-directors-survey/assets/pwc-2016-annual-corporate-directors--survey.pdf 12 – “Women CEOs of the S&P 500,” Catalyst. https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-ceos-of-thesp-500/ 13 – The Executive Leadership Council 14 – “A Rare Corner of Finance Where Women Dominate,” The New York Times. January, 2017. https://www. nytimes.com/2017/01/16/business/dealbook/women-corporate-governance-shareholders.html?mcubz=3 15 – Accenture. (2017). Tech Experience: Women’s Stepping Stone to the Corporate Boardroom? https:// www.accenture.com/t20170412T174533Z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-29/Accenture-Tech-ExperienceWomens-Stepping-Stone-Corporate-Boardroom.pdf 16 – Korn Ferry Institute. (June 2017). Advance Planning: Long-Term Board Succession Gets Serious. https:// www.kornferry.com/institute/advance-planning-long-term-board-succession-gets-serious 17 – DiversityInc. (2019). The 2019 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. https://www.diversityinc.com/facts-figures/ 18 – Ibid 19 – The United States Census. 2010 Census. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/ archives/2010_census/cb11-cn125.html 20 – The United States Census. 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/ jsf/pages/searchresults.xhtml?refresh=t 21 – “How to Become a Corporate Board Member,” Forbes. August 2013. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ dorieclark/2012/08/13/how-to-become-a-corporate-board-member/#a9f89ca39710 22 – “How to Signal That Your Company Cares About Diversity,” Harvard Business Review. December 2013. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/12/make-your-company-more-appealing-to-more-employees


The Workplace Isn’t Equal for Black Women. Here’s How Companies Can Change That. by Raena Saddler and Rachel Thomas Corporate America isn’t doing nearly enough to support black women. That’s a major injustice and a missed opportunity. And there are relatively simple things companies can do right now to begin to fix it. RAENA SADDLER is the Vice President of People & Managing Director of LeanIn.Org


RACHEL THOMAS is Co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.Org

FOR FIVE YEARS, Lean In has conducted the Women in the Workplace

survey, the largest study on the state of women in corporate America.1 To our knowledge, it’s also the largest study on the experiences of women of color at work. All statistics in this article are from this report unless otherwise noted. Year after year, the data tell the same story: despite being highly ambitious, black women face far more barriers to advancement and receive notably less support than women as a whole. Black women are more likely to want to lead; 41 percent of black women are interested in becoming top executives, compared with 29 percent of white women. And they don’t want power only for power’s sake: black women with leadership ambitions are particularly interested in paving the way for others and having a positive impact on their company’s culture. They know firsthand how hard the road can be, especially for women of color, and they want to help change that. At a time when companies say they want to recruit, promote, and cultivate more women leaders, it would seem evident that investing in black women – who both want to lead and to help develop the next generation of diverse leaders – is a smart thing to do. 14


But that’s not happening. In fact, the opposite is. It starts with a lack of support from managers. Black women are less likely than white women to say that their managers advocate for new opportunities for them, give them chances to manage people and projects, provide opportunities to showcase their work, help them manage their career paths, or help them navigate organizational politics. These are the keyways that managers use to help employees grow, stretch, and get the experience they need to move to the next level –and black women get less of this help than nearly everyone else. They also get fewer opportunities to build relationships with managers off the clock: only about a third of black women socialize with their manager outside of work, compared to about half of white women. Additionally, black women receive less sponsorship—the informal support that senior employees give promising junior employees. A sponsor might introduce you to influential connections, highlight your work to senior leaders, or recommend you for jobs and promotions. Only 24 percent of black women say they get the sponsorship they need to advance their careers, compared with 31 percent of white women. And 59 percent of black women say that they have never – not once –had an informal interaction with a senior leader at work.2 This inequality can be deeply frustrating and discouraging. The workplace should be a place where everyone gets an equal shot at proving themselves and equal access to support to help them grow. For years, black communities lament that they must be twice as good or work twice as hard as their white peers to succeed. The data tells us that they’re right. As one black woman surveyed for Women in the Workplace put it, “I don’t feel I have the same opportunities as others. If you look like the people making the decisions, it’s easier to advance. And I don’t look like any of the people making decisions here.” The numbers confirm that. Black women are underrepresented at every level of corporate America. The gap is largest at the top: only 21 percent of C-suite leaders are women, only four percent are women of color, and only one percent are black women. Among Fortune 500 CEOs, only 25 are women and zero are black women.3 This is not just a problem at the top. Lean In has learned from years of studying the data that gender and race gaps begin widening early in the pipeline. We’ve identified the “broken rung” on the corporate ladder: the first step up to manager from the entry level. That’s where we start to



see inequality in terms of which workers advance and which do not. For every 100 entry-level men promoted to manager, only 58 black women are. None of these workers have built long track records yet, they were all strong enough to be hired in the first place, and black women are asking for raises and promotions at the same rates as men. It doesn’t make sense that so many of those promotions are going to men instead of women—and that black women are badly outnumbered. Either men are simply more talented –which we know is not the case or black women are being held back by gender and racial bias. From the time when black women encounter that broken rung on the corporate ladder, it’s numerically impossible for them to climb fast enough to catch up. At every subsequent level – senior manager, vice president, senior vice president, all the way to CEO – their representation becomes increasingly more and more lopsided. A powerful consequence of this underrepresentation is that many black women are having an “Only” experience. Our research finds that 54 percent of black women are the only, or one of the only, people of color on their teams at work. And we know that so-called “Onlys” are having a more negative experience at work than people who aren’t “the only one in the room.” Women who are “Onlys” for their gender and race are more likely to experience everyday discrimination, also known as microaggressions. They are less likely to recommend their company as a great place to work and less likely to feel like they have equal opportunities for growth and advancement. Black women having the “Only” experience are significantly more likely to feel closely watched and to think that their actions reflect positively or negatively on other people like them. As one black woman described it, “I feel like I have to represent the entire race. I need to come across as more than proficient, more than competent, more than capable. I must be on all the time. Because in the back of someone’s mind, they could be judging the entire race based on me.”4 All these factors add up to a workplace where black women often deal with isolation, heightened scrutiny, and disrespect. Many black women report dealing with microaggressions. Compared to workers of other races and ethnicities, black women are the most likely to have their judgment questioned in their area of expertise. They’re almost three times more likely than white men to feel that they need to provide evidence of their competence. And they’re more likely than other women to hear people express surprise at their language skills or other abilities.



As one black woman put it, “At work I’m under a microscope. I feel an immense pressure to perform.” Few would say that they can consistently bring their authentic selves to work under those circumstances—much less do the quality work they can and want to do. To some degree, women of all backgrounds report similar workplace experiences. But black women face compounding biases because they are women and because they are black, and as a result, their experiences are distinct and by and large more negative than the experiences of white women. As one black woman said, “A lot of black women think that many gender initiatives are really tailored toward white women. Are they targeting women of color, too? It often doesn’t feel like it.” Women can also experience biases due to sexual orientation, a disability, their religious beliefs, or other aspects of their identity – and the compounded discrimination can be significantly greater than the sum of its parts. Research shows people with three or more marginalized identities often feel like they don’t belong anywhere.5 Not surprisingly, black women are far less likely than women overall to feel they have an equal opportunity to grow and advance, and they are far less likely to think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees. They are also less happy at work than women overall and more likely to think about leaving their company. Moreover, there’s a pay gap. In 2019, for every dollar that white men earned, black women earned just 62 cents.6 Over a lifetime, those lost wages total close to $1 million.7 Even when you control for factors like education, experience, industry, role, and hours worked, the pay gap still exists.8 And it exists despite the fact that women are asking for raises at about the same rates as men. More than 50 years after the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, it’s unacceptable that millions of women are still paid less than men in similar roles—and that black women and other women of color have to deal with the double blow of both the gender pay gap and the racial pay gap. This is so fundamental. We won’t see real, lasting progress for black women unless we pay them fairly for their work. It’s worth taking a moment to remember why companies should make diversity and inclusion a priority. It’s the right thing to do—full stop. And beyond that, it’s the smart thing to do. Diverse companies are more profitable.9 They’re more innovative.10 When companies promote more women into leadership roles, workplace policies become more family friendly, which benefits everyone.11 And Lean In’s data shows



that opportunity and fairness are together the strongest predictors of employee satisfaction. This is true across genders, races, and ethnicities. Whether you’re a black woman or a white man, when you believe that you have an equal chance to advance and—this is key—that your coworkers do too, you plan to stay longer at your company and are more likely to recommend it to others. Therefore, the data about black women’s experiences at work should ring alarm bells for every C-suite leader and manager. Gender diversity efforts need to be designed to advance all women, and right now, in too many workplaces, that’s not happening. When so many black women aren’t getting an equal shot at opportunity or equal access to support, it’s powerful evidence that companies are falling short – with implications for their employees’ happiness and their own bottom line. The reality of the gender and racial disparities that persist in our workplaces is sobering. But the good news is that there are steps companies can take to swiftly reduce bias and help create a workplace where everyone can thrive. Here are a few.

Set targets and track progress—by gender and race. It’s hard to know how your company is doing on representation if you don’t measure it, and it’s hard to achieve goals that you don’t set. That’s why setting targets and tracking progress are key. Today, only seven percent of companies set diversity targets based on both gender and race. That number needs to grow, because it’s not enough to set and track targets only by gender or only by race. Both must be taken into account. Otherwise, black women and other women of color become at least somewhat invisible – which is exactly the problem companies should be trying to solve.

Expect more from leaders. Leaders – managers, senior managers, vice presidents, up to the C-suite – have a major role to play in determining whether black women are treated like equal and valuable employees. There’s a lot that leaders can do, starting with making it a priority to mentor and sponsor black women. Right now, black women are far less likely to get that kind of support, with significant ramifications for their careers. Leaders should also get bias training and make sure that their teams do the same. That bias training must address gender and racial bias and the compounding effects of both, because black women deal with both every day. More broadly,



leaders need to show that they get it. They should explicitly say that advancing black women is a priority—and they should back their words with real commitment. We know what it looks like when something is a true priority for a company. Leaders should show through their actions that doing more to support women of color matters.

Take the bias out of hiring and promotions. Who you hire and promote are the two most powerful levers for changing representation at your company. Bias is often inherent in those choices. One study found that changing the name on a resume from a woman’s name to a man’s name increases a candidate’s hire ability by 61 percent.12 Another study found that replacing a stereotypical black name with a stereotypical white name was the equivalent of adding eight years of work experience to a candidate’s resume.13 Companies should do everything they can to remove bias from hiring decisions. For example, make it a rule to assemble a diverse slate of qualified candidates for every open position. Make sure evaluators receive bias training on a semi-regular basis. Establish clear and specific criteria before employee reviews to make it less likely that reviewers will make decisions based on subjective feelings. You can learn more about these and other ways to reduce bias from Lean In’s 50 Ways to Fight Bias program. And remember to focus on the broken rung – the first step up to manager – where gender and racial gaps significantly begin to widen.

Audit compensation data. Do you know if you’re paying black women less than their colleagues in the same roles? Find out and, if you are, correct the imbalance. And if your company asks job candidates about their current compensation, consider dropping that practice. It’s already illegal in some states, and it can perpetuate pay disparities.

Make the “Only” experience rare for black women. Companies should take steps to reduce the number of black women who are the only person of their race and gender in the room. That means moving beyond the mindset of “one and done”; real diversity requires real numbers. Additionally, companies should be thoughtful about how they move women through their organization. One approach is to hire and promote black women in cohorts; another is to cluster black women on teams. Looking for opportunities to staff groups of women in a variety of functions across the organization can reduce the isolation these



women feel – which frees them to do their best work. Creating employee resource groups specifically for black women can also help make them feel more supported and less alone. The good news, companies are becoming more serious about making the workplace better for women. In 2019, 87 percent of companies said they were highly committed to gender diversity, compared to 56 percent in 2012. And 77 percent of companies now say they are highly committed to racial diversity.14 Now companies need to do more to put that commitment into practice. In particular, they need to make a serious commitment to their black women employees. These women are doing their part. They’re working hard. They’re setting bold goals for themselves. They want to grow, succeed, and lead. Right now, for too many black women, it’s far more difficult to achieve those goals than it should be. That’s unjust, and it’s bad for business. Companies that take steps to make their workplaces fair will see the results. And black women will finally get the equal chance they’ve always deserved.



Notes: 1 – LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019 (October 2019), https://womenintheworkplace.com/. All statistics are from this report unless otherwise noted. 2 – LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2018 (October 2018), https://leanin.org/ women-in-the-workplace. 3 – Fortune, “Fortune 500” (2019), https://fortune.com/fortune500/. 4 – LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2018 (October 2018), https://leanin.org/ women-in-the-workplace. 5 – Nina A. Nabors, Ruth L. Hall, Marie L. Miville, et al., “Multiple Minority Group Oppression: Divided We Stand?” Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 5, no. 3 (2001): 101–5, https://link.springer. com/article/10.1023/A:1011652808415. 6 – Ariane Hegewisch and Adiam Tesfaselassie, “The Gender Wage Gap: 2018; Earnings Differences by Gender, Race, and Ethnicity.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Accessed August 20, 2019. https://iwpr. org/publications/annual-gender-wage-gap-2018/. 7 – National Women’s Law Center. “The Lifetime Wage Gap, State by State.” March 2019, https://nwlc.org/ resources/the-lifetime-wage-gap-state-by-state/. 8 – Valerie Wilson, Janelle Jones, Kayla Blado, and Elise Gould, “Black Women Have to Work 7 Months into 2017 to Be Paid the Same as White Men in 2016,” Economic Policy Institute (2017), https://www.epi.org/ blog/black-women-have-to-work-7-months-into-2017-to-be-paid-the-same-as-white-men-in-2016/. 9 – Sangeeta Badal, “The Business Benefits of Gender Diversity,” Gallup (January 20, 2014), https://www. gallup.com/workplace/236543/business-benefits-gender-diversity.aspx; Sara Ellison and Wallace P. Mullin, “Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm,” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy 23, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 465–81, https://economics.mit.edu/files/8851; Vivian Hunt, Lareina Yee, Sara Prince, and Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle, Delivering Through Diversity, McKinsey & Company (2018), https:// www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity. 10 – Katherine W. Phillips, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” Scientific American, October 1, 2014, https:// www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter. 11 – Paul Ingram and Tal Simons, “Institutional and Resource Dependence Determinants of Responsiveness to Work-Family Issues,” The Academy of Management Journal 38, no. 5 (1995): 1466–82, http://www.jstor. org/stable/256866?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. 12 – Rhea E. Steinpreis, Katie A. Anders, and Dawn Ritzke, “The Impact of Gender on the Review of Curricula Vitae of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study,” Sex Roles 41, nos. 7–8 (1999): 509–28. 13 – Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” The American Economic Review 94.4 (, 2004): 991–1013. 14 – LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019 (October 2019), https://womenintheworkplace.com/.



Black Men in Corporate America: Ambitious, Driven, and Blocked From the C-Suite by Skip Spriggs, Pooja Jain-Link, and Julia Taylor Kennedy Two decades ago, a powerful class of black men stepped up to the C-Suite. Then, progress halted. This momentum will only be regained when employers are ready to address the systemic challenges that face black men and women as they build their careers. Without robust data that specifies the needs of black men, employers will continue to stumble in the dark, falling back to “best guesses” instead of implementing targeted, transformative solutions. This article zeros in on the black male experience, drawn from the Center for Talent Innovation’s recent study in partnership with The Executive Leadership Council, of Black male and Black female professionals, Being Black in Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration. In this article, we share black male professionals’ ambition; the challenges they face as they forge their careers; why they frequently choose entrepreneurship over corporate careers; and we offer a roadmap for employers looking to retain and support Black colleagues. SKIP SPRIGGS is the former President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council POOJA JAIN-LINK is an executive vice president of the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). Along with co-leading CTI’s groundbreaking research studies, she oversees culture audits at companies seeking to identify and implement best practices for building diverse, inclusive workplaces where every employee belongs. JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY is an executive vice president of the Center for Talent Innovation. In addition to co-leading cutting-edge research into the issues impacting each member of today’s professional workforce, she oversees leadership development programs to build an inclusive and equitable global workplace where everyone can thrive.


THE LATE 90’S TO EARLY AUGHTS was an auspicious time for black men in

Corporate America. Richard Parsons, Ken Chenault, Stanley O’Neal, and Frank Raines, all black, helmed four of the country’s most prestigious organizations: AOL Time Warner, American Express, Merrill Lynch, and Fannie Mae. And the business press took note, heralding the rise of black professional power.1 Then, progress stalled.



Based on today’s rates of college degree completion for black students, which have stayed steady for the last decade, the Fortune 500 should have 50 Black CEOs.2 Today, according to independent tracking from The Executive Leadership Council, there are still only four – and still all men. In an interview for the Center for Talent Innovation’s (CTI) recently published report, Being Black in Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration, Richard D. Parsons, Former CEO of Time Warner Inc., was frank: “I thought the cohort that came through in the mid-90’s was just the beginning, and that there’d be a lot more. It just didn’t happen. There’s been dribs and drabs, but not a wave. And I’m not sure why that’s the case.” Strides have been made to answer Parsons’s query, and to examine the experiences and outcomes for black professionals – male and female – in America. Researchers have examined the trajectory of black professionals through higher education, attempted to quantify bias in hiring practices, and measured levels of unemployment. For black men, a particularly disheartening story emerged. In March of 2018, The New York Times’ The Upshot column published Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s study into the outcomes for black and white men in the United States. Chetty’s macro-economic work revealed that the privilege of wealth does little to shield against the different starting gates of race; black men from the richest families still face the all-too-real possibility of sliding into poverty.3 Yet as we, at CTI and the Executive Leadership Council, set out on this research, we found no comprehensive study documenting what happens to college-educated black men as they attempt to navigate the white-collar workforce in the United States. With Being Black in Corporate America, we fill in this narrative for all black professionals with a robust study rooted in qualitative and quantitative research. We conducted one-on-one interviews with more than 40 black professionals across industries; hosted virtual and inperson focus groups; and fielded a nationally representative survey with 3,736 respondents between the ages of 21 and 65 currently employed full-time or self-employed in white-collar professions, with at least a bachelor’s degree. As we began our analysis, we first disaggregated black professionals from the commonly-used umbrella of “people of color” – an approach that can flatten unique racial experiences. We also sought to break down another monolith: “black professionals.” Using an intersectional lens, we looked at gender, heritage, generation, U.S. region, and LGBTQ



identity. In certain instances, we zoomed in closer, looking at career level and alumni of historically black colleges and universities. The rich, nuanced stories we uncovered validated our approach. The differences that emerged make a strong case for employers to create solutions that acknowledge the spectrum of perspectives and needs. Our research covered a range of stories about black men and women, across the many intersections of identity we mention above. Today, however, we will zoom in to just one area of focus black men – in order to begin to fill the existing research gaps and tell the differentiated story that emerged in our research. Black men, we found, are a cohort that enters corporate America with lofty ambition only to become discouraged by a much steeper career climb, leaving them eyeing greener pastures of entrepreneurship and small companies. Companies looking to engage, retain and promote black male leaders must act swiftly to implement solutions that address their specific needs.

Deep drive to succeed Black men, our data shows, have the intrinsic motivation to succeed in the corporate workplace. We found that 67 percent of black men say they are “very ambitious”—while only 55 percent of white men say the same. When we dug into what motivates black men to succeed, we found that they are more likely than all other groups in our sample to be motivated by financially supporting their extended family. black men, we heard, feel both the pride and the burden of this motivator. Ella Bell Smith, Professor of Business Administration at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business, and an advisor on our report, shared, “Your family tells you you’re at the forefront: moving the family forward, moving the race forward, moving the community forward. It’s not just an individual dynamic.” Black men also cultivate the connections to make their big dreams a reality. Three out of four of black men told us that they have strong professional networks. And we find that these networks extend well beyond the workplace. Collegiate networks proved particularly robust: black men are 2.5 times as likely as white men to be an active member of a college alumni group and are 2.6 times as likely to be an active member of a fraternity. Inside the halls of Corporate America, however, it seems that the robust networks black men cultivate are not translating into critical access or meaningful career development. One black millennial male told us about a pattern he noticed among his white colleagues of affinity relationships



with those in power: “I didn’t have the social network that a lot of my white colleagues had. Having a neighbor or a family friend who is a senior in the industry—it just opened so many doors for them.” Indeed, we found that white men working full-time are 44 percent more likely than black men to say they have access to senior leaders at work.

Systemic racism reveals itself at work Unfortunately, this is far from the only challenge black men face as they seek to build their careers. Most black men (58 percent) have encountered racial prejudice on the job. In fact, we found that black professionals, male and female, were more likely to report experiencing racial prejudice at work than any other racial or ethnic group we surveyed. Despite a disturbing rise in hate crimes since 2016, overt forms of racial discrimination are largely deemed socially unacceptable.4 However, we found that more subtle, insidious prejudice, in the form of microaggressions, runs rampant in the workplace. In the seminal work Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life, Derald Wing Sue, Ph.D., and his team of researchers at Columbia University codify the language of microaggressions, which they define as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to people of color because they belong to a racial minority group.”5 Informed by Sue and his co-authors, we asked our survey takers if they had encountered any in a long list of scenarios, which fell into Sue’s three categories of microaggressions: micro assaults, deliberately discriminatory words or actions such as racial epithets, physical intimidation, or violence; microinsults, often unconscious comments that demean their victim by showing a lack of sensitivity towards an individual’s racial identity; and microinvalidations, often unconscious words or actions that dismiss or downplay the lived reality of a person of color.6 We found that black professionals experience 14 of these microaggressions at a significantly higher rate than other racial groups—and black men and women are equally likely to experience almost all of them.



Black professionals experience these microaggressions at a significantly higher rate than other professionals MICROASSAULTS

Overt forms of racism, such as racial epithets and other deliberately discriminatory actions Colleagues have used racially insensitive language


Actions or comments, often unconscious, that dismiss or downplay the lived reality of a person Colleagues have asserted that they are “color blind” (e.g., “I dont see race”) I have to explain what it is like to live as a person of my race/ethnicity I have been mistaken for someone else of the same racial background Colleagues have told me they have friends of my race/ethnicity Colleagues have asserted they’re not racist


Often performed unconsciously, microinsults demean their target by showing a lack of sensitivity towards an individual’s racial identity Colleagues have touched my hair without my permission I have been told I’m “not like others” of my race/ethnicity I have been repeatedly been told that “I’m articulate” Others have regularly taken credit for my ideas in meetings I have been excluded from meetings relevant to my job Others have mischaracterized me as “angry” I have been excluded or passed over for growth opportunities My manager has met one-on-one with others on my team, but not with me



Rather than shield from these indignities, we heard in interviews that senior leadership status can compound the likelihood that an employee will experience some microaggressions—a pattern that holds in our data for black male professionals, but not for white male professionals. The higher a black man climbs on the corporate ladder, the more likely he is to be the “only,” and the more likely he is to be considered a trusted insider—so white peers may feel freer to make racially charged comments in his presence. In interviews, black male executives told us that they frequently experience microinsults. For example, colleagues frequently assume black male executives are more junior in the organization, or make comments such as, “you’re so articulate.” These subtle aggressions indicate that colleagues perceive black men as less capable and are surprised when a black man rises to the top of his field. But because microinsults are subtle, black leaders sometimes question how to interpret them. One black male executive told us, “I gave a speech, and one of my colleagues said, ‘That [speech] was amazing, did you write it yourself?’ I took that as, ‘How could you have written that?’ I pointed it out to someone else, and they said to me, ‘Aren’t you being paranoid? A little sensitive?’” The powerful, pervasive stereotype that black men are threatening impacts which black men do manage to get to the C-suite. In interviews, black men shared with us that they calculate what they wear to work in order to counteract the threat their body conveys to white colleagues— from clothing to accessories that “soften” their appearance, like glasses. One psychology review from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University supports this finding— black male CEOs with “baby faces” are associated with greater corporate and financial success compared to more mature-faced black CEOs, while the opposite pattern emerged for white male CEOs.7 As a black male executive working in the Fortune 500 C-suite shared, “I could write you encyclopedias of the indignities I’ve suffered. But, if I wasted time wallowing in that, I couldn’t possibly be effective. It’s not that I compartmentalize – the frustration is ongoing – I just can’t let it derail me.” Understandably, many black male professionals do hit a point where they cannot take any more—and look to leave their current employer, or the corporate workplace all together. A full one-third (33 percent) of black male professionals told us they intend to leave their current companies



within two years. As a black millennial male in financial services told us: “There are not many senior leaders that look like me. So how am I going to get to that level, how is there a path for me? Over three, 10, 15 years, maybe I could be the first one to break through.”

The allure of entrepreneurship Where are black men going? As we set out on this study, we saw that back male entrepreneurship has been documented, but not recently researched in relationship to more traditional corporate careers.8,9,10 Our research uncovered that many black men indeed are pursuing entrepreneurship—no doubt leveraging their strong networks to do so. Further, we found that black men have an entrepreneurial drive that outpaces their black female counterparts and all white professionals: of those who are not currently business owners, black men are 3.2 times more likely than white men to be planning to leave to start their own ventures (38 percent black men versus nine percent white men), and 58 percent more likely to have started their own business ventures (41 percent black men versus 26 percent white men). As a black male millennial told us, “Amongst my circle of friends, there is definitely a focus on having our own businesses and using our skillset for ourselves instead of for a company we don’t run.” Michael C. Bush, the CEO of Great Place to Work, shared, “Generally speaking, the smaller the company is the more each person is needed. When people are respectfully asked to do, more they have more opportunities to develop and excel. Entrepreneurism is the ultimate situation because the equity provides the sweet freedom to be your beautiful unedited self.” From our research results, we have a vivid portrait of what pushes black men out of the workplace, from the daily litany of microaggressions to lack of a line of sight to leadership. But we also wanted to understand the pull factors: what black men gain when they leave for an entrepreneurial venture, or to work at smaller companies. What black men who have worked at both small and large companies find at large employers does not come as much of a surprise. Large companies are more likely to provide good benefits, higher—and more stable—income, opportunities to travel, and amenities such as car service that ease the day-to-day grind. The five advantages that are far more common at small companies for black men aren’t so straightforward. On the contrary, they represent the intangible components of an inclusive workplace culture.



■■ Ability to implement your ideas – 64 percent at a small company, 32 percent at a large company

■■ Authority – 68 percent at a small company, 39 percent at a large company

■■ A sense of belonging – 67 percent at a small company, 40 percent at a large company

■■ Respect for your contributions – 66 percent at a small company, 43 percent at a large company

■■ Trust with colleagues – 62 percent at a small company, 42 percent at a large company

If large organizations can continue to deliver on the traditional promises of corporate employment while developing innovative ways to replicate these unmet needs, they stand to slow attrition and move towards a better working world not just for black men, but for all black professionals. Assessing what exists As we pivot toward the forward-thinking solutions that might truly move the needle for black men, we first examined the efficacy of common programs in place today. After all, companies invest billions of dollars on diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts annually.11 Yet as sociologists Frank Dobbins and Alexandra Kalev write in their sweeping analysis of D&I efforts at more than 700 private sector organizations, “At best, ‘best practices’ are best guesses. We know a lot about the disease of workplace inequality, but not much about the cure.” We found that only 36 percent of black male full-time employees agree that D&I efforts in their workplaces are effective. Though trust in D&I’s effectiveness is, in fact, low across the board, the first step towards an inclusive culture for black men is to mitigate risk. We’ve analyzed established D&I solutions and identified the ones that boost black men’s satisfaction with advancement and intent to stay at their companies. We see these solutions as table stakes for companies looking to retain black men. Some of these programs, as you will see in figure to the right, do lay the groundwork for those entrepreneurship intangibles—authority, trust, belonging, and respect. At best, however, these solutions only boost the likelihood of satisfaction with advancement and retention among black men to 38 percent. Yet without them, black men are even less likely to be staying and satisfied with their advancement. 29


Top five advantages for black men at small companies over large ones*


Ability to implement your ideas




A Sense of belonging


Respect for your contributions


Trust with colleagues

Top five advantages for black men at large companies over small ones*


Good benefits


High income


Opportunities to travel


Stable income


Amenities (e.g., dry-cleaning)

*These questions were only asked of those who have worked at both large and small companies. Small companies have fewer than 100 employees, and large companies have 100 or more employees.

One notable intervention that makes a difference for black men is providing funding to attend external conferences for people of color. In interviews, we heard that community-building, along with opportunities to learn from other black men, plays a crucial role in their ability to navigate through the workplace. Organizations such as the National Association of Black Accountants and the National Society of Black Engineers offer enriching conferences that help many Black men find their footing in corporate America, as well as enable them to further expand their already-strong networks. Moderated forums for conversations about race are another not-tobe-overlooked solution. As we explored in our research on Easing Racial Tensions at Work, silence about race can feel like endorsement of racialized violence and rhetoric. Yet about two-thirds of all employees are currently uncomfortable talking about race.12 Companies can provide space and facilitation for employees to convene around this challenging topic. When black men have a safe space to discuss the emotions that come with the day to day stressors attached to their gender and race, such as the danger



of “driving while black,” it can be productive as well as healing. When nonblack employees can hear a colleague’s differentiated experience as a black man in America, it can evoke empathy and understanding, and prime them for more active allyship. Since 2007, all white male directors, vice presidents, and senior executives at Lockheed Martin are mandated to participate in Effective Leadership of Inclusive Teams, a program that begins with immersive and experimental learning labs for no more than 25 participants and culminates in a Summit for up to 80 Lockheed employees. The labs create an environment where participants feel comfortable sharing their experiences, questions, and concerns regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The curriculum encourages men to consider the tenets and impact of white male culture in the U.S., insider-outsider dynamics, privilege, and structural racism. The 1.5-day summit builds on the lab work, replicating some of the activities on a larger scale. This comprehensive experience helps white men awaken to the unique privilege and power they hold in the workplace. Through carefully crafted conversations and activities, they learn how to better interact with employees across difference; Lockheed boasts that the program has empowered its leaders to become more proactive in D&I conversations and promote inclusion at the organization. Unilever is seeking to better educate its employee base through a program called “Cultural Immersion – the Black Experience.” All of Unilever’s marketing employees, as well as others, if space permits, attend the 4.5-hour-long program—which has become so popular, it is almost always full. Part of a series of cultural competency training programs, The Black Experience was created in partnership with Language and Culture Worldwide (LCW), a global consulting firm which conducts intersectional research on effective and ineffective approaches for companies marketing to black consumers. Volunteers from BeU, Unilever’s black employee ERG, provide input and feedback on the programming, which focuses on the history and experiences of black communities, allowing Unilever to update and improve the curriculum annually. Since the launch of the program, Unilever has trained 4,000 local and global employees at both Unilever and partner agencies. The program works towards many positive outcomes for non-Black employees: to eradicate bias and harmful stereotypes about the black community, to engender understanding and empathy for the black experience within Unilever and outside of the workplace, and help marketers better cater to its black clients. 31


Once companies have meaningfully taken the first two steps – evaluating corporate work culture with an audit, and awakening employees to think critically and talk about issues of race and racial equity – they can begin to act. The importance of co-creating these transformative solutions— and co-owning the outcomes—cannot be overstated. Employers must act with black, Latinx, Asian, and white stakeholders around the table, engaged in the conversation, heard, and valued. Some outcomes could include levelling the playing field on sponsorship – advocacy by senior leaders on behalf of high potential talent – for black men, and developing a more severe stance on discrimination: once employees have been given a foundational education on microaggression, a company could act by implementing a “no microaggressions” policy. Being Black in Corporate America exposes a rocky path for black men to top leadership, surrounded by a thicket of systemic factors in their way. Yet the future can be full of hope. Our call to action could not be clearer: if companies pivot toward tailored, co-created solutions that address the needs of black men, they engage a hugely valuable cohort. We can stop the brain drain by nailing the basics, and then thinking more broadly. Black men do find many things appealing about corporate life—especially the stability, opportunity for financial security, and for a comfortable lifestyle through which they can support their families. But they also want the things they seek in entrepreneurial ventures or at small companies; a sense of belonging, trust, respect, and authority. In order to get there, companies need to engage with deeper work – education and empathy-building, to name two, in order to engage white employees as allies; action and policies built with input from all employees. Being Black in Corporate America is an expansive sweep of the black working experience and demonstrates that there is much work to be done. But when employers undertake this work, equipped with knowledge about what black men and women need, and a desire to disrupt systemic prejudice and unlock white allyship, we stand not only to regain the momentum of black leadership, but cascade those gains to other groups. Because when we transform our workplaces into more equitable, inclusive spaces, we all benefit.



Notes: 1 – https://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2002/07/22/326294/index.htm 2 – https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_322.20.asp 3 – https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/19/upshot/race-class-white-and-black-men.html 4 – Griffin Sims Edwards and Stephen Rushin, “The Effect of President Trump’s Election on Hate Crimes,” January 31, 2019, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3102652 5 – Derald Wing Sue, Christina M. Capodilupo, Gina C. Torino, Jennifer M. Bucceri, Aisha M. B. Holder, Kevin L. Nadal and Marta Esquilin, “Racial Microagressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice,” American Psychologist 62, no. 4 (2007): 271-286. 6 – Ibid. 7 – Robert W. Livingston and Nicholas A. Pearce, “The Teddy-Bear Effect: Does Having a Baby Face Benefit Black Chief Executive Officers?” Psychological Science, 20, no. 10 (October 2009): 1229-1236, doi:10.1111/ j.1467-9280.2009.02431.x 8 – https://fortune.com/longform/black-executives-men-c-suite/ 9 – https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=blackstudfacpub 10 – https://www.guidantfinancial.com/small-business-trends/african-americans-in-business/ 11 – Daniel Culbertson, “Diversity and Inclusion Jobs Grow Briskly,” Indeed Hiring Lab, March 26, 2018, https://www.hiringlab.org/2018/03/26/diversity-and-inclusion-grows-briskly/ “Glassdoor report reveals one-third of hiring decision makers expect to increase investment in diversity & inclusion programs in next year,” Glassdoor, November 7, 2017, https://www.glassdoor.com/about-us/ glassdoor-report-reveals-one-third-of-hiring-decision-makers-expect-to-increase-investment-in-diversityinclusion-programs-in-next-year/ “Diversity & Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market,” Mercer, accessed October 18, 2019, https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/career/diversity-and-inclusion-technology.html Rik Kirkland and Iris Bohnet, “Focusing on what works for workplace diversity,” McKinsey & Company, April 2017, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/focusing-on-what-works-for-workplacediversity 12 – Ella Bell Smith, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Trevor Phillips, Ripa Rashid with Melinda Marshall and Tai Wingfield, Easing Racial Tensions at Work (New York: Center for Talent Innovation, 2017).



It’s Time for Companies to Step Up — Or Pay the Price by Nina Shaw and Tina Tchen The TIME’S UP story began two years ago in a moment that was nothing short of extraordinary. It began with a group of women gathered in a room in Hollywood determined to make a change that would resonate far beyond the Hollywood community. We helped co-found TIME’S UP because, like so many, we were deeply horrified by the prevalence of sexual harassment not only in Hollywood, but across industries. NINA SHAW and TINA TCHEN are original signatories and co-founders of TIME’S UP, an organization that works for change across culture, companies, and laws to promote safe, fair, and dignified work for women of all kinds. NINA SHAW is a founding partner of the law firm Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. She represents talent in television, motion pictures, and on the live stage.


TINA TCHEN is an attorney who currently serves as TIME’S UP’s president and CEO and previously served as a senior official in the Obama Administration. AS WOMEN OF COLOR AND MOTHERS, we knew firsthand the impact of

gender and racial discrimination in the workplace. We understood the structural barriers that prevent low-income women and women of color from seeking the justice they deserve. And we were committed to doing something about it. As lawyers, the two of us, along with Robbie Kaplan and Hilary Rosen, a public relations professional, knew the most immediate need was to get legal and public relations assistance to the many sexual harassment survivors who were coming forward to speak out or to seek redress for the wrongs they experienced in the workplace. From that came our first initiative, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, housed and operated by the National Women’s Law Center. To date, the Fund has connected nearly 4,000 individuals to attorneys and committed to spending over $9 million helping people fight for equality and respect at work. This is one solution, but it cannot be the only one. To overcome centuries of racial and gender discrimination at work, companies must step up and lead the fight for safe, fair, and dignified workplaces for women of color. 34


And it will take more than putting new policies on paper and a few sexual harassment trainings to undo the economic, physical, and psychological damage created by centuries of racial and gender bias and discrimination. The current reality is unacceptable. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that black women are three times more likely to file sexual harassment claims than their white peers.1 Black women, on average, earn 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men2 — and at our current pace, black women would have to wait until 2119 to earn the same pay as white men.3 Beyond the pay gap, women of color continue to face discrimination as they try to move up the corporate ladder: while 44 percent of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, just one in 25 of C-suite executives identify as a woman of color. To put this in perspective, just 58 black women are promoted to manager for every 100 entry-level men.4 These structural barriers, however, have not stopped women of color from forging their own path. In the past year alone, women started an average of 1,817 new businesses per day — that’s 42 percent of the nearly 13 million businesses in this country. Businesses led by women of color make up the highest proportion of them by far (89 percent), and black-owned businesses are growing at the fastest rate (50 percent).5 Black women are subject to both racism and sexism — a unique experience that has driven many black women to lead the fight against systemic racism and gender inequality for generations,6 dating back to the lawsuits that first established the caselaw around sexual harassment 30 years ago and Anita Hill’s piercing of the public consciousness.7 And today — inspired by the #metoo movement — black female leaders, from Hollywood, the C-suite and sports, are not taking workplace injustice sitting down. Black women activists like Carmen LoBue and Leslie Silva successfully lobbied the New York State Legislature to pass the TIME’S UP Safety Agenda. Governor Cuomo of New York, on August 12, 2019, signed sweeping reforms to its legislation that strengthened protections against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Black athletes like Alysia Montano pushed Nike to change its pregnancy and maternity leave policies — and won.8 And Hollywood trailblazers, such as Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay, and Oprah Winfrey wore black in solidarity with survivors at the 2018 Golden Globes in 2018, and helped make TIME’S UP the organization it is today. 35


Companies are starting to realize what many of us who have made this our life’s work have known for some time: diversity and inclusion is not just a nice-to-have for a company. It’s an economic imperative. There’s evidence to back this up: studies show that companies that have greater gender and racial diversity are more likely to have higher financial returns in the long run.9 Progressive Casualty Insurance Company is exemplary of this. The company ranked first in The Wall Street Journal’s diversity and inclusion ranking of companies in the S&P 500 based on 10 metrics including the representation of women, age and ethnic diversity, and whether the company has diversity programs in place. The Wall Street Journal study found that the companies on this list had better operating results on average than the lowest-scoring firms and their shares generally outperformed those of the least-diverse firms.10 Progressive’s annual report on pay equity reported that for its employees with similar performance, experience, and job responsibilities, women earn one dollar for every dollar earned by men. In the same report, Progressive reported that people of color earn one dollar for every dollar earned by their white coworkers.11 “Our focus on diversity and inclusion and pay equity aren’t new at Progressive,” commented chief human resource officer Lori Niederst. “Our company culture and our reputation for treating our people fairly are big drivers of our success. We recognize this and work very hard to maintain this competitive advantage. We published this report to tell our story to our customers, shareholders and Progressive people.”12 Creating workplaces that are free from discrimination and harassment will not happen if it is delegated to the human resources department to accomplish alone — it must be led from the top. Company leaders must take full ownership over their workplace culture, including by setting an example for how employees should be treated and how they should treat each other. If companies don’t step up, businesses and their employees will bear the cost of discrimination and harassment. A report by the International Center for Research on Women outlined some of the costs of sex-based harassment to employees and businesses.13





Individual Productivity

$22,500 per harassed individual, 2007

Team Performance

Varies, one study found $193.8 million lost to the civilian U.S. Government, 1992 - 94



Turnover and Transfer Costs

$5,000 - $211,000 per lost employee, depending on level and industry, 2016


Settlements: $75,000, Jury awarded damages: $217,000, not including legal fees, 2017


$1,000 - $1,000,000 per claim, not including standard premiums 2017

Brand Perception and Reputation

Varies by industry, and difficult to quantify

The values and code of conduct that companies will live by must go beyond just satisfying existing legal requirements, and instead set the standard for behaviors that will foster workplaces cultures that respect and support all workers. Leaders should create new mechanisms to provide space for survivors to tell the truth — without fear of retaliation. They must invest in the latest business technology, machinery, or investment tools to attract the best talent. And they must break down the structural barriers that keep women, and others, from succeeding at work — that means instituting new policies and practices, including paid leave, pay transparency, and flexible work hours. It has been two years since we founded TIME’S UP, and we are living in a moment that is nothing short of extraordinary. Women of all backgrounds and industries are coming forward to share their stories and turn their pain into action. It is a moment unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. This is what we — and so many other women of color — have been fighting for throughout our lives: a fair shot at success and financial security. Company leaders have a critical role to play in achieving safe, fair, and dignified work for all women. It’s time for business leaders in our communities to step up to the plate or pay the price in lost talent and revenue.



Notes: 1 – https://nwlc-ciw49tixgw5lbab.stackpathdns.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/SexualHarassmentReport. pdf 2 – National Partnership. America’s Women and the Wage Gap. 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/ our-work/resources/economic-justice/fair-pay/americas-women-and-the-wage-gap.pdf 3 – http://www.equalpaytoday.org/equalpaydays 4 – McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org. Women in the Workplace. 2019. https://womenintheworkplace. com/ 5 – American Express State of Women-owned Businesses Report. 2019 https://about.americanexpress.com/ files/doc_library/file/2019-state-of-women-owned-businesses-report.pdf. 6 – Lipsitz, R. Sexual Harassment Law was Shaped by the Battles of Black Women. P The Nation. 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/sexual-harassment-law-was-shaped-by-the-battles-of-black-women/ 7 – Crenshaw, K.W. Whose Story is It, Anyway? Feminist and Aniracist Appropriations of Anita Hill. 1992. In: Morrison, T. editor. Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power. New York: Pantheon Books, p. 402-40. 8 – Nike to Change Pregnancy Policy in Athlete Contracts https://www.wsj.com/articles/nike-to-change-pregnancy-policy-in-athlete-contracts-11558137409 9 – Hunt V, Layton D. and Prince S. Why Diversity Matters. McKinsey & Company https://www.mckinsey.com/ business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters 10 – Holger D. The Business Case for More Diversity. 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-business-casefor-more-diversity-11572091200 11 – https://www.progressive.com/about/diversity-and-inclusion/ 12 – https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/us/news/breaking-news/progressive-takes-another-steptowards-workforce-diversity-appoints-female-board-chair-100604.aspx 13 – The cost of sex-based harassment to businesses: An in-depth look at the workplace. https://www.icrw. org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ICRW_SBHDonorBrief_v4_WebReady.pdf



Black Brew Movement: What The Future of Diversity in Craft Beer Means for African American Business Owners, Investors, and Students by Courtney I. Brown, MA This article discusses the current and future state of the craft beer industry through diversification. The purpose of this article is to provide information to black business owners, leaders and students about the opportunities within the craft beer industry. This article is built upon a series of public and private publications that give a wide range of perspectives.


COURTNEY I. BROWN, MA is a Research Analyst at Brightline Strategies and a CoFounder of Black Brew Movement, LLC. Her research interests include education, consumption and media. Courtney is based out of Alexandria, VA. IN RECENT YEARS, the business of craft beer has expanded far and wide.

Today, more people than the bearded white guys have their hands in the tasting and making of crafted beer. As craft beer begins to acquire the interests of blacks, many are beginning to recognize that outside of general consumption, craft beer has the infrastructure to generate new streams of revenue and investment opportunities for black business owners and investors. As the brewing industry begins to infiltrate higher education, it can be suggested that this industry will also provide a wealth of opportunities for black students, specifically those who attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). From advocacy-based businesses and organizations and brewing focused college curriculum1 to our first black female-led brewery 2 the opportunity for black enterprises to invest in this burgeoning industry starts now.

Advocacy Businesses Community organizations have a longstanding history of advocating for an increase in cultural capital amongst blacks.3 Small businesses and 39


organizations like Black Brew Movement, Black Brew Culture and Uncap Everything recognize the gap in the beer industry and are shocking the scene and preparing it for a much needed extension in clientele. These businesses and organizations are fundamental to the diversification of craft beer because they educate communities and empower blacks to be informed consumers and serve as a liaison between the black community and the existing craft beer community. Craft beer industry remains monochromatic. According to the Brewers Association, 85 percent of craft beer drinkers are white, while 15 percent are black, Latino, Asians and Native American drinkers.4 Festivals like Fresh Fest Beer Fest, the nation’s first black craft beer festival, give black brewers and consumers a space to celebrate craft beer and learn from the best brewers at a festival that values the richness of black culture as well as quality beer. Events such as these are building a foundation and etching the blueprint for the future of black brewers, investors, and consumers. These advocacy businesses are perfect avenues to promote entrepreneurship and mentorship.

Crowdfunding As these businesses grow so does the need for resources. Obtaining finances is one of the most important initial steps in the entrepreneurial process. Crowdfunding serves as a simple yet effective way to begin to establish collateral. According to Dan Selis, founder, and CEO of Mission Brewery, equity crowdfunding is a valuable tool for business owners who have not mastered pitching to potential investors, or simply don’t have the time.5 Crowdfunding is a form of disintermediated finance that allows entrepreneurs to raise funds directly from large numbers of individual contributors in an online setting.6 This type of funding is particularly helpful for investors interested in the brewing industry because of the number of immediate capital costs (i.e. land, building, equipment, branding, etc.). As blacks begin to establish a presence in the craft beer industry, the democratic nature of crowdfunding allows more people an opportunity to contribute, even those with less capital.7 While providing more opportunities for investment, crowdfunding also allows the receiving party to develop a community through public online communication channels. Startup investment sites like Seed Invest and WeFunder provide a public platform for startup businesses to speak directly to their funders. Crowdfunding has provided Crowns & Hops Brewing Company founders, Beny Ashburn and Teo Hunter, the room to preserve the culture, diversify 40


the palate and build community through world-class beer. There was little to no influence for blacks in the beer scene and with the development of the first black-owned independent craft brewery in Inglewood, California, Ashburn and Hunter have integrated into the next realm of craft beer making with funding that grants them more independence due to the minimal influence of their seed funders and an expanded market share developed through front-facing fundraising model. Although crowdfunding presents opportunities for small black-owned businesses, the structure of this style of fundraising does present risks that all investors should be aware of. These risks can be generalized as a high level of uncertainty in the investment with respect to achieving the final funding goal. According to Nguyen, “although investors will receive a refund in the event the campaign is unsuccessful in meeting its target, such investments still impose a degree of cost; the refund process takes time and investors may miss out on other investment opportunities as a result.” This risk highlights the need for black brewers and investors to create a branding strategy that speaks to a diverse group of investors and supporters, especially in a new market.

Capital Investments Research shows that many craft breweries are aware of the lack of diversity in the industry and as they are placing their breweries in places highly populated by blacks, they recognize that just bringing the beer won’t work. Much of the suspicion around craft beer is relative to the perceived atmosphere of exclusivity, so craft brewers have become keen on the structure of their facilities and know that to generate more black consumers they must cultivate an atmosphere that includes them. This includes everything from music, art, food, and events. As a capital-intensive industry informed investor are imperative to the transition to a more heterogeneous craft beer scene. Black executives with established vendor and community relationships and can serve as a consultant to these establishments and help them seamlessly create an environment that will be most attractive to minorities. Investment in infrastructure and general landscaping are foundational to the general atmosphere of craft brewers. Capital investments in overall branding and strategy could potentially be the greatest contribution to the craft beer industry. The current market for craft beer needs brand differentiation and input from people of color. The voice and the culture and even agricultural knowledge are necessary for complete immersion into the craft beer industry. Organizations like the 41


Brewers Association offer research and service grants that contribute to the sustainability and profitability of small and independent breweries in the United States through hop and barley research and other agricultural developments.

HBCU Program Expansion and Funding. Lastly, as many historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) struggle to find resources for funding, recent developments in brewing curriculum create an opportunity for increases in STEM and hospitality degrees that help students obtain marketable job skills along with private funding for the universities.1 Investments in brewing programs similar to Brewing Laboratory Science at University of California, Davis and Bachelors of Science in Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University would teach African American students the trade of beer making and get them acquainted with the functions of most independent breweries and other profitable sectors of the craft beer industry. According to Peterson1, the need for Beer Industry Programs to prepare students for a career in brewing is at a new high since the industry has shifted to more technologically advanced systems. Investors can not only invest in the institutions that create these programs, but they can also contribute to the development of the curriculum since the disciplines are relatively new. Educators from diverse disciplines can begin to cultivate the narrative on how black students will understand the brewing industry and the opportunities available. Students can look forward to information that is created specifically for them as they are groomed in a specific brand of STEM that gives them the historical, theoretical and technical information that makes them marketable and competitive employees post-graduation. Since 2013, Colorado State University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Regis University, University of Northern Colorado and Front Range Community College have all brought brewing to the curriculum in an impressive way. They have outlined a model that could be duplicated by the administration at HBCUs. Students within these academic programs gain transitionary business skills through the programs affiliated local breweries. Students learn to create their own beer from grain to glass and local independent breweries sell the students beers and the respective university shares in the profits gained from the sales.1 This is an opportunity to gain funding for HBCUs and other predominately black organizations and institutions. Aligning closely with strategic planning initiatives of Howard University,8 including 42


brewing programs and establishing local partnerships with microbreweries will enhance academic excellence, inspire new knowledge, serve the black community, improve efficiency and effectiveness, and help achieve financial sustainability through the introduction of diverse revenue streams, asset acquisition and management (e.g. capital investments in microbreweries). Understanding that with any new business market, creativity and willingness are the cruces of growth and success. As a budding industry, the craft beer scene gives a tremendous amount of opportunity for black business owners, investors, and students to expand their social, economic and environmental capital. There was once a time where these predominately white breweries did not have space for people of color.9 Numerous studies10,11 have explained that diversity in the brewing industry did not come easy. Interested brewers went to speak with brewing industry [employers] in the ’50s, and they tell them, ‘There’s no place for blacks, skilled or unskilled, in our breweries.’ Today, we have the power to educate ourselves and those around us to be skilled, informed and wealthy members of the craft brew industry.

Notes: 1 – Peterson, Eric. 2019. Education on Tap: Area Schools Prep Students for Beer Careers. Colorado Biz;46(6):68-75. 2 – Gibbs, Adrienne Samuels. 2011. Beer….66(5):64. 3 – Luft, Harrison, 2016. Cultural Capital: An Investigation in Community Sustainability. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. https://digitalcollections.sit.edu/isp_collection/2298 4 – https://www.brewersassociation.org/insights/shifting-demographics-among-craft-drinkers/ 5 – Crescenzo, Sarah. 2017. Betting on Beer. San Diego Business Journal [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 3];38(48):44-45. 6 – Nguyen, Cox, and Rich. 2019. Invest or regret? An empirical investigation into funding dynamics during the final days of equity crowdfunding campaigns. Journal of Corporate Finance 58:784-803 7 – Micic, Igor. 2015. Crowdfunding: Overview of the Industry, Regulation and Role of Crowdfunding in the Venture Startup. Hamburg: Anchor.p. 14-44. 8 – Howard Forward: Envisioning the Future. https://magazine.howard.edu/categories/featureshomecoming/howard-forward-envisioning-future 9 – Herz, Julia. 2019. The Diversity Data Is In: Craft Breweries Have Room and Resources for Improvement. Communicating Craft [Internet]. Brewers Association 10 – Sugrue, Thomas. 2005. The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequity in Postwar Detroit. Princeton University Press. 11 – Pokrivicák, Ján, Soña Chovanová Supeková, Drahoslav Lancaric, Radovan Savov, Marián Tóth, Radoslav Vašina. 2019. Development of beer industry and craft beer expansion. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 58(1):63-74.



The Authenticity Challenge by Cindy R. Kent The race topic. Again. Let’s face it, race is a complicated subject and from all accounts, not getting any easier. Even in 2019, crucial conversations about diversity, inclusion, and equity have never been more prevalent. Yet for black folk in Corporate America, the relationship between ethnicity and authenticity remains fraught with tension. CINDY R. KENT has been a member of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) since 2010. She was also a participant in The ELC’s 2008 Strengthening the Pipeline initiative. She is a Healthcare Executive, Corporate Director, Public Speaker and Philanthropist.


I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I heard an Executive Leadership Council

(ELC) officer say in an open forum of both members, as well as non-black executives from partner companies, that the focus of the organization was unapologetically black. To be honest, the statement caused me to shift in my seat, as I quickly and covertly glanced around the room to see if anyone else had had a visceral response to the statement. To be clear, we all knew that being unapologetically black was an implied and fundamental belief of the ELC, a membership organization that aims to advance the representation of African Americans in C-suites and on corporate boards of directors. But to hear it said out loud to this audience, I thought would conjure images of racial revolutionaries storming into the boardrooms of their respective corporations—corporations whose strategic partnerships were so vital to the mission of the ELC. To my surprise (and relief) there was no obvious discomfort in response to the statement. Interestingly the only responses of note were just a few of the ELC members who had caught each other’s glance – a subtle acknowledgement that we had all shared this common thought. So what was this about, one may wonder?

New leadership currency Authenticity, Transparency, Purpose and yes, even Failure are all prominent tenets of modern leadership teachings. Just as bitcoin and blockchain are disrupting financial markets, so too, is authenticity one of the relational currencies disrupting the traditional practice of corporate leadership. The



advent of millennials and Generation Z’ers in the workplace is placing demands on leaders, as well as the organizations they lead, to rise to a new standard of existence. In the U.S., millennials and Generation Z account for 40 percent of the U.S. Labor Force.1 Shareholder value is a necessary, but insufficient, performance standard. Similarly, stoicism, command-and-control, and fear-based models of leading are quickly becoming C-suite relics of old. This seismic shift was symbolized most notably in August 2019 when 181 CEOs of the Business Roundtable signed and published the Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation2 as public declaration of their commitment to a broader cast stakeholders beyond shareholders— to include their employees as well as the communities they serve. Based on these new leadership models, corporate environments are becoming more welcoming and inclusive for non-majority populations. Right? While it is my hope that corporations in America are on a journey to becoming meritocratic entities for which talent trumps all, the truth is we are not there yet. Going by college completion rate, there is no shortage of black talent. Based on the rate of college degree completion, there should be 50 black CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. There are only four black CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies.

The black tax A research by Great Place to Work suggests that organizations where ALL employees have a great experience no matter who they are or what they do for the organization see much higher revenue growth at their organizations.3 Are black employees having great experience at their organizations? Black employees experience conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace. The collective effects of conscious and unconscious bias for blacks seeking to advance in their respective spheres is fondly known as black tax. In Corporate America, the black tax is reflected in hiring practices, longer promotion cycles, having to take on riskier assignments to prove oneself, pay gaps and a host of other inequities. It may also include the undue burden upon the highest leveled black in the company being expected to represent, speak for, and wear the mantle for all things black both inside and outside of the organization. When outlined as such, it seems ridiculous, but a so-called black tax is a daily reality experienced by most black professionals. Although it doesn’t use this phraseology, a study by Korn Ferry released in October 2019 entitled, The Black P&L Leader: Insights and Lessons from Senior Black P&L Leaders in Corporate America examines the attributes and barriers that impact blacks ascending into the C-Suite and more 45


specifically, P&L executives who desired to be well-positioned for CEO succession. In this study, dominant and consistent themes emerged; the rigor and intentionality required by participants to manage their careers, the need to take on high risk assignments to prove themselves; the stealth-like agility required to navigate setbacks and failures so that they did not become career-limiting, and the seminal need for sponsors who can provide exposure and access to advancement opportunities.4 In the Predictive Index’s Annual CEO Benchmarking Report 2019, 156 CEOs were asked what keeps them up at night. Eighty percent indicated that their top five challenges were related to talent – finding it, keeping it, aligning skills with strategy, etc. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that with a real war for talent looming ahead, leaders and organizations would want to optimize their most important asset, their people? Wouldn’t companies also want to set ALL their employees up for success? If it is as critical an issue as the CEOs in this benchmark study suggest, why don’t we just fix it? While talent optimization is hard, the issue of race is even more challenging.

The conundrum is personal One of my favorite instructional YouTube videos is the six-minute “Bob Newhart—Stop It” video.6 In the video, Bob Newhart plays a psychologist who advises a patient about her irrational and long-held fear of being buried alive in a box. His advice to her is simple and direct. He instructs her to just “Stop It.” I was referred to this video several years ago by a mentor, in response to my obsessing over some then- important work situation. One that now completely escapes my recollection. Oddly enough, since that time, I have referred countless other friends and mentees of my own to the video as well. It is interesting how issues that were seeming crises in the moment, with time and perspective are hardly even memorable blips on the timelines of our lives. I can recall times throughout my nearly 30-year career, when I was told that my clothing colors of yellow and red were too bright and that I needed to tone it down. Or that I laughed too loud and I needed to tone it down. Or that I asked too many questions in meetings and that I needed to tone it down. And my all-time personal favorite, was when I was advised that my very presence was too big and others found me ‘threatening’ (actual word choice) just by me entering into the room. In this case, at least the accuser smartly acknowledged however, that it was unlikely that I would be able to tone it down, yet was at a complete loss in offering suggestions to allegedly fix me. 46


Though I was an early adopter and corporate partner of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Movement, one criticism that I found quite valid, and that applies here, is that the responsibility for leaning in cannot solely lie with the respective gender or ethnic referenced group. There is only so much that can be controlled at the individual level. If companies and institutions want to unleash the power of all their employees, then they too, must do some leaning in of their own. I am a firm believer that the tone and soul of the organization is set at the top of the house. Beyond the mission statement being posted on the company website or framed and hung in the conference rooms, executives must think critically about the mission and values that they are espousing through their behaviors. When employees look up and around, what do they see? These are all signals of the normative cultural context – the unwritten rules of the workplace that instruct employees on acceptable behavior as well as how to advance up the ranks. Earlier in my career, I would respond to this type of feedback by doubling-down on self-improvement (translate: self-fix) efforts until that particular feedback point went away. Even the mentors and advisors that I had at the time would advise me along these lines. Now with the benefit of age, and some modicum of personal growth and success, I think we would likely approach things differently. But at that time, we were all doing the best we knew how to do. For years this has been the approach for many blacks and other non-normative groups in Corporate America—responding like stringed marionettes to a confusing confluence of feedback, that often conflicted from supervisor to supervisor. Whether it related to our clothing, hair styles, our language, diction or accents—we have gone about this schizophrenic code-switching7 behavior in a futile effort to fix ourselves, sometimes consciously and at other times as an unconscious means of survival. But if authenticity is the new currency of leadership, why are black professionals in Corporate America still struggling with these behaviors that fly in the face of authenticity? Most likely because most organizations are still in the early stages of understanding inclusion and have not reached the tipping point of doing inclusion, let alone, doing it well. Simply stated, we’re on a journey and we are not there yet.

Time is ripe for change Please do not misinterpret my point here—organizations have every right to dictate who it wants to be as well as how it expects its employees to act and behave. What is NOT okay, however, is when those cultural norms are disproportionately restrictive or biased for a specific employee group.



Today I am often described as an authentic leader and get many questions asking about how I have been able to remain so grounded and authentic. It is apparent from some of the personal stories I have shared in this article, that this has not always been the case. But my journey to showing up more authentically, is grounded in my deep faith as well the confidence and conviction that everything will work itself out in time. Let’s be clear, I still get feedback, but I also now recognize that I am the only one who gets to decide what to do with it. Rather than allowing any and every feedback point drive me into a flurry of self-fix gyrations as I did early on, I consider the feedback through three different lenses. First, ask who’s giving the feedback? If I trust that the provider’s intentions are well-meaning, and that they sincerely have my best interest at heart, then I am more inclined to consider what they are telling me. Second, ask would my response require a tweak to what I do versus a change to who I am? Obviously, I would be less likely to change who I fundamentally am as a person, and more likely to adjust behaviors. Finally, the third lens is asking what’s at stake? What are the implications to my making or not making the adjustment? These considerations frame how I choose to respond—but that too, is a great revelation: YOU and you, alone, get to decide. Despite the real and personal experience of the authenticity challenge for blacks in Corporate America, several factors give me hope. First, the time is ripe for change. The talent fears of CEOs found in the benchmarking report will act as a forcing mechanism to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces – not only as an effort to be more competitive, but more importantly for companies to have any chance of survival. The war for talent is real. Great Place to Work study found that inclusive companies experience more than three times the revenue growth of less inclusive companies.8 Second, each subsequent generation in the workplace is increasingly insisting that their employers reflect the world they want to live in. And when they don’t find cultures that are aligned with their values or ones that the organization’s vision statement promised, they leave. Finally, as boards and C-suites become more diverse, black executives and board directors can lead from the front. We can normalize our authenticity in ways that have both subtle as well as more bold ethnic inferences. For example, during the period that I wore my hair natural, I was amazed by the number of younger black women who thanked me for doing so. Other black executive friends described similar experiences



when they switched to locs and braids as their hair styles of choice. Another opportunity we have is being willing to speak up during talent or management reviews when blacks in the organization are either not on slates or are not given fair consideration for promotions and stretch assignments. I would like to believe that each such instance inches us closer to a truly inclusive workplace as well as puts us one step closer to resolving the authenticity challenge faced by black professionals in Corporate America.

Notes: 1 – Richard Fry, “Millennials Are the Largest Generation in the U.S. Labor Force,” Pew Research Center Fact Tank (April 11, 2018). 2 – https://www.businessroundtable.org/business-roundtable-redefines-the-purpose-of-a-corporation-topromote-an-economy-that-serves-all-americans 3 – https://fortune.com/2019/12/20/diversity-inclusion-key-to-beating-next-recession/ 4 – https://www.elcinfo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/korn-ferry_theblack-pl-leader.pdf 5 – https://www.predictiveindex.com/content/reports/the-annual-ceo-benchmarking-report-2019/ 6 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw 7 – https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-costs-of-codeswitching 8 – https://www.greatplacetowork.com/book


About the Contributors Crystal E. Ashby is the interim President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. Courtney I. Brown, MA is a Research Analyst at Brightline Strategies and a Co-Founder of Black Brew Movement, LLC. Her research interests include education, consumption and media. Courtney is based out of Alexandria, Virginia. Pooja Jain-Link is an Executive Vice President of the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). Along with co-leading CTI’s groundbreaking research studies, she oversees culture audits at companies seeking to identify and implement best practices for building diverse, inclusive workplaces where every employee belongs. Julia Taylor Kennedy is an Executive Vice President of the Center for Talent Innovation. In addition to co-leading cutting-edge research into the issues impacting each member of today’s professional workforce, she oversees leadership development programs to build an inclusive and equitable global workplace where everyone can thrive. Cindy R. Kent has been a member of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) since 2010. She was also a participant in The ELC’s 2008 Strengthening the Pipeline initiative. She is a Healthcare Executive, Corporate Director, Public Speaker, and Philanthropist. Raena Saddler is the Vice President of People & Managing Director of The Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation. Nina Shaw is an original signatory and co-founder of TIME’S UP, an organization that works for change across culture, companies, and laws to promote safe, fair, and dignified work for women of all kinds. Shaw is a founding p artner of t he law firm D el S haw M oonves Tanaka F inkelstein & L ezcano. S he r epresents t alent i n television, motion pictures, and on the live stage. Skip Spriggs is the former President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. Tina Tchen is an original signatory and co-founder of TIME’S UP, an organization that works for change across culture, companies, and laws to promote safe, fair, and dignified work for women of all kinds. Tchen is an attorney who currently serves as TIME’S UP’s president and CEO. She previously served as a senior official in the administration of President Barack Obama. Rachel Thomas is CEO and co-founder of Lean In. Justina Victor is a Senior Research Manager of The Executive Leadership Council.



A Research Journal for Black Professionals The Executive Leadership Council The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) is the preeminent membership organization committed to increasing the number of global black executives in C-suites, on corporate boards, and in global enterprises. Its mission is to increase the number of successful black executives, domestically and internationally, by adding value to their development, leadership, and philanthropic endeavors, thereby strengthening their companies, organizations, and communities across the life cycle of their careers. Its purpose is to open channels of opportunity for the development of black executives to positively impact business and its communities.

ISBN 978-0-578-64060-0

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