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The Executive Leadership Council Journal

A Research Journal for Black Professionals Winter 2021


The Executive Leadership Council Journal

A Research Journal for Black Professionals Winter 2021


Copyright © 2021 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 978-0-578-85756-5


Contents Letter from the Editor.............................................................. 1 Repurposing Code-Switching Habits as Career Assets for Black Professionals ..................................... 3 by Lee V. Pham Cognitive Biases and the Danger of the Decision-Making Gap................................................... 23 by Karima Mariama-Arthur Creating Standards of Leadership and Professionalism Rooted in Blackness...................................... 31 by Jennifer M. Tardy and Brittany Crichlow Performative Allyship Looks Good but Genuine Trust Takes Time ......................................................43 by Ron Pegram Implementation of a Pilot Global Leadership Accelerator for Black and Latina Women in the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Industry .....................................................53 by Kemi Olugemo, M.D.; Monique Adams, Ph.D.;

Patricia Cornet, M.A.; Charlotte Jones-Burton, M.D., MS

The Unique Experience of Black Women in Corporate America .............................................................69 by Chelsea Carter, EdD, NCC About the Contributors........................................................... 79


Letter from the Editor Hope. Health. Harmony. These words weighed greatly upon us as we began this year and yearned for something new to differentiate the day-to-day monotony in which we have found ourselves for the past twelve months. The desire to interact with co-workers, colleagues, and friends, outside of the opportunities made available through sitting in front of a computer screen, have intensified. Questioning our mental and physical health, and the curiosity of a vaccine intended to allow these interactions to take place but not knowing when you may be able to receive it or if you even want to, have added additional stress to an already stressful time. The social justice movement is no longer a movement but instead a matter of fact that we hold on to and hold those accountable to, even if others do not. We continue to emerge through these mentally exhausting times with the vigor and tenacity that show our strengths, and we celebrate our many wins, whether big or small. Embarking on the age of Corporate Social Justice, we are uniquely positioned to be the catalyst needed for growth in the corporate space. Leveraging the expertise and experiences of Black professionals is how we as global citizens see the true possibilities of what could be, instead of what currently is. Advancement of Black talent has been so abundant in the past six months, corporate board diversification is taking top-priority, and the appointment of Rosalind Brewer as the new CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance and ELC Member Thasunda Duckett as the new CEO of TIAA is just the beginning. We see this edition of the journal as a continued resource to put to paper the resilience exhibited daily, to highlight our strengths within our corporate community, and to bring conversations to the forefront that with the backing of science cannot continue to go overlooked. This peer-reviewed journal is your voice, your experience, and your tool to use as you best see fit. Christopher Butts, Ed.D. Vice President/Chief Learning Officer for the Institute for Leadership Development & Research The Executive Leadership Council

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

Repurposing Code-Switching Habits as Career Assets for Black Professionals by Lee V. Pham, Esq. Black professionals who code-switch are wired to be great executives. Code-switching and interdisciplinary behavior share a common point of origin in the human brain. Because of this shared neurobiological foundation, Black professionals’ tendency to code-switch can serve as a proxy for identifying interdisciplinary corporate leaders among their ranks, presenting an unexpected gateway for Black professionals to excel as 21st century executives. This opportunity rests on three distinct but related propositions: ■ Proposition 1: Interdisciplinary Leadership Is Required for 21st century Corporate Competitiveness ■ Proposition 2: Code-Switching and Interdisciplinary Leadership Ability are Enabled by Common Neurobiological Processes ■ Proposition 3: Black Professionals May Generally Possess a Heightened Capacity to Lead in the Modern C-Suite as an Unintended Consequence of Code-Switching Habits.

LEE PHAM – is an experienced business leader with interdisciplinary expertise in strategy, finance, law, and engineering. He holds a distinct competency in intellectual property as a patent attorney.

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CORPORATE LEADERSHIP in the 21st century requires an interdisciplinary repertoire of skills.1 Research indicates that people connected across groups are more familiar with alternative ways of thinking and behaving, thereby driving innovation.2 Being interdisciplinary involves communicating across boundaries, as does the practice of code-switching relied upon by Black people.3

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But code-switching is generally viewed as a necessary evil and a burdensome survival mechanism imposed on Black people, especially in corporate and professional contexts.4,5 One’s propensity to code-switch may serve as a personal career asset when holistically viewed as an indicator interdisciplinary leadership ability. Specifically, Black professionals may generally possess a heightened capacity for the interdisciplinary skillset valued in the modern C-Suite, made possible by the same neurobiological processes that drive code-switching. An important caveat: The gravity of the negative impacts of codeswitching endured by Black professionals cannot be understated. This paper does not intend to glorify, promote, or fetishize codeswitching behavior. These impacts are discussed further on in the analysis of Proposition 2. While counterintuitive, we can conclude that the notion of code-switching serving as an indicator of interdisciplinary leadership ability is conceptually sound – both behaviors involve sociolinguistics and subliminal cueing.6 To apply the habits underlying code-switching in a constructive way, business leaders and Black professionals will have to stretch their understanding of the phenomenon while remaining wary of the psychological toll that it exacts.

Proposition 1: Interdisciplinary Leadership Is Required For Twenty-First Century Corporate Competitiveness. To be interdisciplinary simply means to relate to more than one branch of knowledge. Experts describe interdisciplinary practice as integrating the insights of different knowledge domains to produce a more comprehensive understanding of complex problems, issues, or questions.7 The term interdisciplinary most frequently refers to academic or scholarly pursuits. But in a commercial context, interdisciplinarity is an element of both innovation and agility, two widely accepted prerequisites to commercial success in the 21st century.

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

First of all, who’s your A&R? A mountain climber who plays an electric guitar? But he don’t know the meanin’ of dope when he’s lookin’ for a suit-and-tie rap that’s cleaner than a bar of soap. GARY EARL GRICE D/B/A GZA PROTECT YA NECK, BY THE WU TANG CLAN (ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS, 1993)

Innovation and Agility Require Interdisciplinary Participants. Interdisciplinary participants drive innovation where people connected across groups integrate insights from different domains to better understand complexity. These individuals are more likely to express ideas, less likely to have ideas dismissed, and more likely to have ideas evaluated as valuable.8 Agility also requires interdisciplinary participants insofar as it involves balancing the comfort of standard operations with the pursuit of innovation and risk-taking.9 This balancing act “forces leaders to get out of their silos and work together as a multidisciplinary group, breaking through impediments and pivoting when necessary.”10

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Organizations need leaders who embody innovation and agility to remain competitive into the 21st century. It follows that corporations should recruit, retain, and promote professionals that possess interdisciplinary backgrounds. Future-Focused Industries Investing in Interdisciplinary Talent. One example of an entire sector embracing interdisciplinary leadership is the automotive industry. The century-old industry faces transformation without precedent in business history.11 Auto companies with insular organizational silos are addressing the challenge in part by adjusting their talent strategies. They are hiring software engineers from the digital technology industry as they face competition from Uber, Apple, Alphabet, Tesla, and others.12 Doug Betts, a veteran auto industry executive who spent time at Apple and now leads a division of J.D. Power, asserts that car companies must change employees’ mindsets and approach new ventures by getting different parts of their organizations to work collaboratively.13 Betts himself embodies interdisciplinary leadership; he trained as a mechanical engineer in the early 1980s, has a decades-long career across top automotive competitors, pivoted to consumer technology by joining Apple, and now leads a division of a data analytics and consumer intelligence company.14 Examples of interdisciplinary efforts are evident in other sectors as well. In a collaboration between space agencies and the financial services industry, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association have explored how quantum computing can benefit investment portfolios by partnering with Standard Chartered Bank.15 And in the luxury goods space, the Spanish subsidiary of LVMH has been praised for appointing two enologists (wine experts) to coordinate the efforts of the company’s marketing and sales groups with positive economic results.16 Talent Strategy and Interdisciplinary Focus at LVMH. LVMH, the multinational corporation and conglomerate specializing in luxury goods, also offers examples of investment into interdisciplinary talent. LVMH has consistently tracked or outperformed the S&P 500 over the past three years.17 And a

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

2014 INSEAD report titled, LVMH Möet Hennessy • Louis Vuitton: The Rise of Talentism, outlines a talent philosophy and executive hiring profile that demonstrate a recognition of the value that interdisciplinary professionals offer. The report opens by quoting the Executive Chair of the World Economic Forum, who asserts that “[t]he success of any national or business model for competitiveness in the future will be placed less on capital and much more on talent.”18 LVMH proves this sentiment by cultivating agility through mobility. A shortage of available talent and the company’s rapid growth forced its human resources organization to adopt an interdisciplinary recruiting strategy, looking to industries that it had not previously considered for hiring. To attract talent from other industries, LVMH made mobility central to its appeal to external talent beginning in 2007, later turning its focus inward to further cultivate retained talent with a sustained focus on mobility. Acquiring interdisciplinary professionals and then investing in their mobility across functions resulted in increased collaboration across brands, which in turn led to lower operating costs, customer savings, and increased profits without sacrificing the legacy of LVMH’s portfolio of brands. LVMH’s focus on mobility also elevated the prospects of lateral moves in such a way that they held the same appeal as vertical promotions among employees. This further institutionalized the value proposition of agility and the interdisciplinary professional. The INSEAD report highlights an unnamed executive who was an aerospace engineer by training, had a career as a management consultant, and held prior roles in other luxury goods companies prior to joining LVMH. Over a relatively short period, the executive was promoted repeatedly across business units and geographies, taking on stretch assignments that demonstrated credibility, versatility, agility, and ultimately legitimacy as a global business leader. Another notable interdisciplinary hire and now recent alumnus of LVMH is Ian Rogers.19 Rogers made a name for himself in digital media as CEO of Dr. Dre’s Beats Music, joined Apple to help lead

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Apple Music and aid their integration of Beats, and later joined LVMH in 2015 to be the luxury company’s Chief Digital Officer. In late 2020, Rogers exited LVMH while retaining an advisory role to help lead a cryptocurrency startup in France. Once again, we see the luxury brand investing in an interdisciplinary leader who was able to demonstrate credibility, versatility, agility, and legitimacy as an executive. Individual Interdisciplinary Leaders. At an individual level, successful figures in other future-focused businesses present additional evidence that interdisciplinary leadership is key to success in the 21st century. In his current iteration, Ken Chenault sits on the boards of major Silicon Valley technology companies and serves as chair of General Catalyst, a venture capital firm focused on early stage and growth investment.20,21 The Black business luminary also recently joined the board of Berkshire Hathaway, assuming the seat previously occupied by technologist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.22 Taking a static view of Chenault’s current commitments would lead anyone unfamiliar with him to conclude that he is a product of Silicon Valley. But Chenault is widely known for his storied tenure as Chairman and CEO of the payments juggernaut American Express, and he is a legend of Wall Street rather than of Silicon Valley. In fact, Chenault’s tenure in financial services was his third career having worked in management consulting after practicing law.23 The extraordinary leadership value that Ken Chenault presently brings to Silicon Valley and to the venture capital community is undergirded by his interdisciplinary career across law, consulting, and financial services. Another executive whose interdisciplinary background has advanced her leadership, and who worked under Ken Chenault at American Express, is Discover’s Wanji Walcott. Discover has generally outperformed the S&P 500 for the past 10 years, and the company recently announced restructuring that prepares the company to compete for the future of fintech.24 A Black business luminary in her own right, Walcott is known to have earned more than the CEO who she reports to as Discover’s Chief Legal Officer 8


REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

in 2019. But Walcott is more than an accomplished legal leader; reporting from that year indicates that she “provided strong leadership and counsel in ongoing innovation, litigation strategy, and business initiatives.” Black Enterprise named Walcott to its List of The Most Influential Blacks In Technology in 2018 while she was still General Counsel of PayPal.25 And she launched her career by going directly to an in-house legal role at aerospace and defense firm Lockheed Martin. Walcott’s highly valued leadership is interdisciplinary, integrating law, technology, finance, and strategy. Other examples of interdisciplinary executives include Boeing’s CEO of Global Services, Ted Colbert, III (earned degrees in engineering and interdisciplinary science with career experience across defense, financial services, automotive, and telecommunications); Disney’s new Chairman of Media and Entertainment Distribution, Kareem Daniel (earned degrees in engineering and business with experience in investment banking); and Bank of America’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion and Talent Acquisition Officer, Cynthia Bowman (earned degrees in engineering and business with career experience in consulting). Boeing, Disney, and Bank of America are all investing in the futures of their industries.26,27,28 Colbert, Daniel, and Bowman all happen to be Black executives at the helm of those companies. In sum, we see ample evidence at industrial, corporate, and individual career scale for the proposition that interdisciplinary leadership is required for 21st century competitiveness. And at the individual level, we have evidence that Black interdisciplinary leaders are rising to the C-Level and are achieving great success when they do.

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Proposition 2: Code-Switching and Interdisciplinary Leadership Ability Are Enabled by Common Neurobiological Processes Code-switching is a Behavioral Adjustment Relied Upon by Black People. In 2019, the Harvard Business Review published the findings of a team of experts who conducted research on code-switching. The team outlined the drivers behind code-switching behavior among Black professionals, the benefits and drawbacks of relying on that behavior, and how professionals and companies should respond in turn. The report notes that “[r]esearch suggests that codeswitching often occurs in spaces where negative stereotypes of Black people run counter to what are considered ‘appropriate’ behaviors and norms for a specific environment.”29 Generally, code-switching involves adjusting speaking style, physical presentation, and behavior to achieve equitable treatment. A summary of literature in the Harvard Business Review report identifies three principal reasons why Black professionals codeswitch in the workplace: 1. To increase perceptions of professionalism and the probability of being hired in light of their membership in a stigmatized and under-included racial group, 2. To boost their perception as leaders in spite of negative racial stereotypes, and 3. To increase their chances of promotion in the workplace by expressing shared interest with dominant groups, projecting similarity with powerful members of the organization.

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

The report’s authors developed a survey and scale for determining the complexities and nuances of code-switching among Black professionals as a part of their research. In their survey of about 300 Black, college educated professionals, the researchers identified a few key situations that invoke code-switching behavior: ■ When Black professionals aspire to corporate leadership, ■ When they attempt to exhibit “fit” in their organizations, ■ When they are constantly braced for potential discrimination and mistreatment, and

■ When they sense a need to be visible in their racial identity where a work environment espouses to value racial diversity

With respect to this last scenario, it may also be true that Black professionals rely on code-switching to signal camaraderie to each other in workplace environments that impose a general sense of “otherness” on them as a group.30 An example of code-switching that recently circulated in popular culture is the viral video clip of Barack Obama greeting members of the U.S. men’s Olympic Basketball Team in 2012. In the video of the impromptu exchange, President Obama greets a white coach and Black NBA player Kevin Durant with starkly different gestures, even as they stood next to one another. The codeswitching employed by Obama in that moment was parodied in a subsequent sketch by comedy duo Key & Peele.31

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It’s funny, but the truth is I do hear about guys in the corporate offices who psych themselves up listening to my music, which sounds odd at first, but makes sense. My friend Steve Stoute, who spends a lot of time in the corporate world, tells me about young execs he knows who say they discovered their own philosophies of business and life in my lyrics. It’s crazy. SHAWN CARTER D/B/A JAY-Z DECODED (2010)

Code-switching is Both Necessary for and Harmful to Black Professionals. At a neurological level, the cognitive load associated with negotiating interactions in which race is a factor is shown to result in diminished performance in task-oriented tests.32 The Harvard Business Review report asserts that code-switching is one of the key dilemmas that Black employees face regarding racial identity in the workplace based on a collection of anecdotal accounts. The researchers note that code-switching results in social and psychological harm to Black professionals. The behavior fosters hostility among Black colleagues, depletes cognitive resources thereby hindering performance, and contributes to burnout due to

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

self-imposed stifling of authentic expression and suppression of identity. A sampling of quotes from Black professionals who were surveyed for the referenced report illustrates the harm caused by code-switching: ■ “…I find it easy to modify my behavior slightly to consistently outpace [unfairly low] expectations of my abilities.”

■ “In my actions and verbal communications, I try to avoid any

opportunity for someone to label me as the ‘angry Black woman.’ I also carry myself in a professional manner that may seem to be a step above the somewhat casual professional environment of the office.”

■ “I also feel as though I am in a constant battle of censoring/

watering down my views, thoughts, and personality for the possibility of being looked at differently than a non-Black man or woman in the workplace if they exhibited the same behavior. It’s exhausting navigating an all-white workplace.”

■ “… it is simply easier to anticipate the complaints, jokes, and

negative comments from white people and just adapt to their discomfort and ignorance in order to maintain workplace peace.”

Similar sentiments are cataloged in a piece entitled The Only One in the Room, published by Bloomberg in August 2020. In it, a number of Black corporate leaders as high as the C-Level share the challenges that they face as Black professionals in the financial services industry.33 The gravity of the negative impacts of code-switching endured by Black professionals cannot be understated. Code-switching is a survival tactic that Black people and members of other excluded groups employ in hopes of achieving fair treatment. It is also the case that perpetuating code-switching “damages organizations, which may miss out on the distinct perspectives and contributions from racial minorities who are uncomfortable being themselves in the workplace.”34

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Us/Them Behavior and The Brain. There is a neurobiological set of processes that dictate codeswitching. The human brain forms what neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky refers to as Us/Them dichotomies, or “Us/Them behavior.” The process of Us/Them behavior occurs in the human brain within milliseconds in response to minimal cues about race and gender. The process involves a part of the brain called the amygdala, the section of the brain where unconscious biases originate. Us/Them behavior is hardwired into the human brain and is observed as early as infanthood. “The strength of Us/ Them behavior is shown by: the speed and minimal sensory stimuli required for the brain to process group differences, the unconscious automaticity of such processes, its presence in other primates and very young humans, and the tendency to group according to arbitrary differences, and to then imbue those markers with power.”35 Contrary to these Us/Them dichotomies being formed in milliseconds however, Sapolsky indicates that we can still feel positive associations with people who we believe to share the most meaningless traits.36 Aside from the attributes of race and gender, “even if groupings are based on flimsy differences (e.g., whether someone over- or underestimated the number of dots in a picture), in-group biases, such as higher levels of cooperation, [nevertheless] still soon develop…. People preferentially allocate resources to anonymous in-group individuals.”37 Research indicates that mimicry of certain traits serves to induce this positive in-group association. Mimicry activates hormones in the person being mimicked that result in a pleasing effect and a higher willingness to assist and cooperate with the one doing the mimicking.38 Along with the enhanced assistance and cooperation that flows from mimicking generally, Sapolsky notes that implicit racial bias decreased in white research subjects following subliminal cueing, or exposure to counterstereotypes. One study showed how

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

subliminal cueing decreases implicit racial bias by invoking the likeness of favored celebrities of the same race.39 Other research has shown that an audio cue in the form of classical music written by a white composer being whistled by a young Black man signaled to those observing him that he was not a threat as he walked through a wealthy white neighborhood at night.40 Sapolsky’s research further indicates that Us/Them behavior is also mitigated by Contact Theory, which brings “Us-es” and “Thems” together to achieve superordinate goals where everyone works together on a task they care about. The result is disappearing animosity and greater emphasis on similarities.41 Code-switching is a Form of Us/Them Behavior. Strategic mimicry, subliminal cues, and a focus on superordinate goals can offset the Us/Them behavior that flows from identifying a person as being from another race. These practices disrupt the default processes undertaken by the brain’s amygdala and the hormonal releases that otherwise drive group identification and Us/Them behavior. Code-switching behavior (adjusting speaking style, physical presentation, and behavior) is a strategic and unconscious use of mimicry and subliminal cues to achieve less disparate treatment from a dominant group in a given environment. The behavior stems from predictable activity in the human brain that is as strong in its control over our behavior as it is innate. For Black professionals, an endemically excluded group, codeswitching is a cultural habit developed over centuries of seeking equitable treatment in all facets of life. The habit is a well-developed and unconscious reaction to a set of subliminal cues stemming from individual interactions with in-group (white) colleagues or the working environment established by powerful in-group members of corporate organizations.42 Even so, Sapolsky warns us to manage Us/Them behavior rather than seeking to suppress it. Forming in-group associations is necessary for the functioning of groups, organizations, and society. “From massive, breathtaking barbarity to countless pinpricks of

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microaggression, Us versus Them has produced oceans of pain. Yet our generic goal is not to ‘cure’ us of Us/Them dichotomizing. It can’t be done, unless your amygdala is destroyed, in which case everyone seems like an Us. But even if we could, we wouldn’t want to eliminate Us/Theming.”43 When understood and productively managed, Us/Them behavior can yield valuable achievement. Us/Them Behavior and its Common Neurobiological Roots with Interdisciplinary Behavior. We defined interdisciplinary behavior and highlighted its value in Proposition 1. Recall now that both innovation and agility comprise interdisciplinary behavior as a foundational element. Regarding innovation, remember that those connected across groups integrate insights from different domains to better understand complexity. These individuals are more likely to express ideas, less likely to have ideas dismissed, and more likely to have ideas evaluated as valuable. By cueing likeness based on training or experience (e.g., college majors or tenures in certain industries) or being able to mimic jargon as a familiar tactic, an interdisciplinary professional can effectively achieve in-group status more easily, thereby driving innovation. In effect, interdisciplinary individuals who drive innovation do so by utilizing their familiarity of different disciplines to offset Us/Them behavior by colleagues, garnering the perception of in-group membership and the cooperation that comes with it. Regarding agility, recall that interdisciplinary professionals are adept at balancing the comfort of standard operations with the risky pursuit of innovation, giving teams the psychological safety to work together across silos. To balance familiar ways of doing business with risky innovation requires a focus on superordinate goals, which is another mechanism for offsetting Us/Them behavior among professionals. A focus on superordinate goals can also garner the perception of in-group membership and the cooperation that comes with it.

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REPURPOSING CODE-SWITCHING HABITS AS CAREER ASSETS FOR BLACK PROFESSIONALS

Here is where the neurobiology overlaps: In the same way that Black professionals instinctively adopt shared vocabularies and behaviors by code-switching to achieve in-group status based on race in the workplace, shared vocabularies and behaviors across disciplines are involved in achieving corporate innovation and agility. Interdisciplinary professionals position themselves to drive innovation and agility inside of otherwise foreign practice groups by offsetting Us/Them dichotomies with mimicking, subliminal cueing, and directing attention to superordinate goals. These are the very same offsetting tactics employed by Black professionals who code-switch to the same ends. And in both cases, the behaviors are governed by the same neurobiological processes that begin in the amygdala.

Proposition 3: Black Professionals May Generally Possess a Heightened Capacity to Lead in the Modern C-Suite as an Unintended Consequence of CodeSwitching Habits “At this point in my career, code-switching feels natural. I am not even cognizant that I do it anymore.” — 30-year-old Black male researcher cited in the Harvard Business Journal report

Black professionals’ tendency to code-switch can serve as a proxy for identifying promising interdisciplinary talent among their ranks. Black professionals who are adept at code-switching are likely to be equally adept at interdisciplinary behaviors where both phenomena are grounded in the same neurobiological processes. Because interdisciplinary leaders drive innovation and agility, we can conclude that Black professionals who rely on code-switching are psychologically equipped to successfully lead 21 st century organizations. In short, Black professionals who code-switch are wired to be great executives.

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Clout chasin’ (Clout chasin’)

Let me truth on the verse (Yeah)

If they paid you to do it, you don’t gotta ask what you worth DONALD GLOVER D/B/A CHILDISH GAMBINO MONSTER, BY 21 SAVAGE (I AM, I WAS, 2018)

What Corporations Can Do. The idea that code-switching can be leveraged as an indicator of interdisciplinary leadership ability is worthy of consideration where, despite corporate efforts over the past decade, the number of Blacks in executive ranks and on boards remains unacceptably low.44 To address this persistent opportunity deficit for Black professionals, corporate leaders must look beyond the nowubiquitous diversity and inclusion playbook and invest creatively in cultivating the innate capabilities already possessed by the next generation of Black executives.45 At the executive management level, corporations must decide that identifying and investing in interdisciplinary talent is an

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ongoing imperative – and more than a program undertaken as part of the HR group’s typical portfolio of initiatives. Actionable commitment to a philosophy akin to LVMH’s focus on socalled talentism is required.46 Whatever philosophy is adopted, management must also acknowledge that its Black and otherwise excluded employees are prone to modify their behavior to achieve equitable treatment, even when workforces are diverse and inclusive, and that the prevalence of racism both in and outside of the organization is the root cause. Further research is recommended to undergird the proposition that Black professionals may generally possess a heightened capacity to lead in the modern C-Suite, or at least business leadership roles, as an unintended consequence of code-switching habits. Nonetheless, sufficient evidence and existing research exists to test the proposition in practice. Operationally, HR or talent management staff groups could offer to survey a company’s employees who self-identify as Black to gauge their own individual perceptions of how they rely (or don’t) on codeswitching in their professional lives. Under such an initiative, those who express willingness to take the survey and have their results considered could be evaluated for potential cross-functional roles, high mobility assignments, or learning and development programs if they do not already possess interdisciplinary backgrounds. Like LVMH did with its talentism philosophy, such an initiative should create opportunities for Black professionals to assume stretch assignments that demonstrate their credibility, versatility, agility, and ultimately legitimacy as business leaders. Corporations that undertake such an endeavor must measure and report on the business impact of such an initiative not only in numerate commercial terms, but also in terms of changes in the population of Black employees who occupy management roles with meaningful tenures. Anecdotal evidence of individual success stories above a certain paygrade is insufficient to make the case that a corporate talent strategy is fully leveraging the potential of its pipeline. A deeper understanding of Black professionals’ potential must be accompanied by reciprocal effort.

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And even while organizations identify and advance Black interdisciplinary talent on the basis of their tendency to codeswitch, companies still “can and should play a pivotal role in creating environments where code-switching is not necessary for success, particularly by cultivating spaces that value inclusion and differences.”47 What Individual Black Professionals Can Do. The dilemma that code-switching poses for Black professionals should not be left to them to solve on their own. It is beneficial however for Black professionals to build an informed selfawareness of the behavior, its impacts, its underlying psychology, and how it can be managed. To the extent that Black professionals have interdisciplinary education or experience, it may be valuable to reflect on whether they adjust their behaviors across disciplinary groups to achieve better communication, acceptance, or cooperation. If these behavioral adjustments are apparent, then one can assess how their own cross-disciplinary adjustments help drive innovation (by expressing ideas that those from other disciplines find valuable) or drive agility (by achieving a consensus that balances familiar ways of doing business and risky innovation). This exercise may help one identify whether they possess the hallmark attributes of interdisciplinary leadership, which are career assets with or without code-switching. The Risk of Overlooking These Three Propositions. Andrew Hill, an associate editor and the management editor of the Financial Times proposes that, “[t]he moral is obvious: if a company’s people cannot communicate the how, why and what of innovation to each other, the chances of progress are low.”48 Black professionals who instinctively adjust their communication and behavior to survive likely possess a heightened capacity to drive the innovation and agility required for corporate competitiveness as we all press farther into the 21st century. We see that Black interdisciplinary leaders like Ken Chenault, Wanji Walcott, Ted Colbert, Kareem Daniel, and Cynthia Bowman

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are well suited for the C-Suite. And an entire generation of Black interdisciplinary professionals are present in talent pipelines throughout corporate America. Specific to this pipeline, the moral is equally obvious: if a company does not identify its Black interdisciplinary professionals, come to terms with the challenges they face as an excluded racial group, and then repurpose their capacity to overcome these challenges in order to advance them as innovative and agile leaders, the changes of progress are low. Corporations that fail to identify and advance their most innovative and agile contributors risk losing those professionals to other employers or stifling their own competitiveness. Notes: 1 – Rigby D, Elk S, Berez S. 2020. The Agile C-Suite. Harvard Business Review [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://hbr.org/2020/05/the-agile-c-suite 2 – Duhigg C. 2016. Smarter Faster Better. New York (NY): Random House. p. 215. 3 – McCluney C, Robotha K, Lee S, Smith R, Durkee M. 2019. The Costs of Code-Switching. Harvard Business Review [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-costs-ofcodeswitching?ab=seriesnav-bigidea 4 – Davis M. 2020. Black and White on Wall Street: The Unwritten Code on Race. Bloomberg [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-06-29/rules-of-working-onwall-street-from-black-employees-who-lived-it 5 – Roberts L, McCluney C. 2020. Working from Home While Black. Harvard Business Review [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from https://hbr.org/2020/06/working-from-home-while-black 6 – Sapolsky R. 2017. Behave. New York (NY): Penguin Books. p. 84-90. 7 – Mission, Vision, & Core Values [Internet]. [updated 2021 Jan 14]. Association for Interdisciplinary Studies; [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available at: https://interdisciplinarystudies.org/mission-vision-core-values/ 8 – Ibid note 2. 9 – Ibid note 1. 10 – Ibid note 1. 11– Colias M, Higgins T, Boston W. 2018. Will Tech Leave Detroit in the Dust?. The Wall Street Journal [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/can-detroit-become-a-softwarebusiness-1540008107 12 – Ibid. 13 – Ibid. 14 – Betts D. LinkedIn Profile [Internet]. [updated 2021 Jan 14]. LinkedIn; [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doug-betts-854309b/ 15 – Walker O. 2018. Nasa says quantum computing is the future for funds. The Financial Times [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.ft.com/content/195ce103-2419-30e4-a19d-96e8cb8a3c9b 16 – Casciaro T, Edmondson A, Jang S. 2019. Cross-Silo Leadership. Harvard Business Review [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://hbr.org/2019/05/cross-silo-leadership 17 – LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE [Internet]. [updated 2021 Jan 14]. The Motley Fool; [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.fool.com/quote/otc/lvmh-moet-hnsy-l-vutn/lvmhf/ 18 – Leung N, Godart F, Shipilov A. 2014. LVMH Möet Hennessy • Louis Vuitton: The Rise of Talentism. INSEAD European Competitiveness Initiative. INS905:1. 19 – LVMH digital chief to join French fintech start-up [Internet]. [updated 30 Nov 2020]. Thefinanceinfo.com; [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://thefinanceinfo.com/2020/11/30/lvmh-digital-chief-to-join-frenchfintech-start-up/ 20 – Sorkin AR. 2018. For His Next Act, Ken Chenault Turns His Focus on Silicon Valley. The New York Times [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/business/dealbook/ kenneth-chenault-silicon-valley.html 21 – Carson B. 2018. Airbnb Adds Outgoing American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault To Board of Directors.

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Forbes [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bizcarson/2018/01/25/ airbnb-adds-outgoing-american-express-ceo-kenneth-chenault-to-board-of-directors 22 – Dingle T. 2020. Ken Chenault Leaving Facebook Board; Appointed First Black Berkshire Hathaway Director. Black Enterprise [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www.blackenterprise.com/ ken-chenault-leaves-facebook-board-as-he-is-appointed-l/ 23 – Bianco A. 1998. Ken Chenault: The Rise Of A Star. Bloomberg [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1998-12-20/ken-chenault-the-rise-of-a-star 24 – Discover Forms New Internal Data and Analytics Organization [Internet]. [updated 2 Nov 2020]. Discover; [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://investorrelations.discover.com/newsroom/press-releases/pressrelease-details/2020/Discover-Forms-New-Internal-Data-and-Analytics-Organization/default.aspx 25 – Editors. 2018. List Of The Most Influential Blacks In Technology. Black Enterprise [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: [https://www.blackenterprise.com/list-of-the-most-influential-blacks-in-technology/ 26 – Colbert T. 2020. Road to Recovery. LinkedIn [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www. linkedin.com/pulse/road-recovery-theodore-ted-colbert-iii/ 27 – The Walt Disney Company Announces Strategic Reorganization Of Its Media And Entertainment Businesses [Internet]. [updated 12 Oct 2020]. The Walt Disney Company; [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/the-walt-disney-company-announces-strategic-reorganization-of-its-mediaand-entertainment-businesses/ 28 – Isaacson T. 2020. The Blockchain Patent Landscape Shows Accelerating Growth. IPWatchdog [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2020/12/04/the-blockchain-patentlandscape-shows-accelerating-growth/id=127922/ 29 – Ibid note 3. 30 – Duhigg C. 2014. The Power Of Habit. New York (NY): Random House Trade Paperbacks. p. 219. 31 – Ibid note 3. 32 – Ibid note 6. p. 416. 33 – https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-black-on-wall-street/?sref=Gku5p9jW 34 – https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-costs-of-codeswitching?ab=seriesnav-bigidea 35 – Ibid note 6. p. 392-93. 36 – Ibid note 6. p. 390. 37 – Ibid note 6. p. 389-90. 38 – Ibid note 6. p. 390. 39 – Ibid note 6. p. 418. 40 – Ibid note 6. p. 89. 41 – Ibid note 6. p. 420. 42 – Ibid note 30. p. 162. 43 – Ibid note 6. p. 423. 44 – Sahadi J. 2020. After years of talking about diversity, the number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal. CNN Business [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/ success/diversity-and-black-leadership-in-corporate-america/index.html 45 – Ibid note 4. 46 – Ibid note 19. 47 – Ibid note 3. 48 – Hill A. 2018. Successful innovation needs a shared vocabulary. The Financial Times [Internet]. [cited 14 Jan 2021]. Available from: https://www.ft.com/content/6640fe1e-f480-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d

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COGNITIVE BIASES AND THE DANGER OF THE DECISION-MAKING GAP

Cognitive Biases and the Danger of the DecisionMaking Gap Confronting Systemic Judgment Errors That Lead to Flawed Reasoning, Animus, and Stereotypes by Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. Decisions are an important part of our everyday lives. To create the most direct path toward an objective, we reach for a single option from an array of alternatives in hopes of achieving the best result. But determining which option is best can be tricky and often time-consuming. KARIMA MARIAMA-ARTHUR – is founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm with exclusive expertise in professional development and advisory services worldwide.

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RESEARCHERS ESTIMATE that humans make an average of 35,000 decisions every day, and a good chunk of them are affected by cognitive biases.1 According to one study, 20 percent of healthcare providers’ diagnostic mistakes are caused by cognitive biases.2 And that’s after years of training. With a universe of competing interests vying for first place in our lives, we often feel pressured to act quickly. The problem is there is often a chasm between the information we have and the information we need to make good decisions. Thus, we take mental shortcuts known as heuristics. Unfortunately, heuristics often fuel our cognitive biases. Cognitive biases are systematic judgment errors.3 They comprise the perceptions, attitudes, and stereotypes that exist within our subconscious, and are therefore commonly referred to as unconscious or implicit biases. Born of flawed reasoning, they often cause us to misinterpret information and draw false or inaccurate conclusions. Not surprisingly, cognitive biases are 23


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quite common: We all have them. Our penchant for self-delusion is consistent.4 Dr. Daniel Kahneman, world-renowned psychologist, and recipient of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, notes that the neurological basis for cognitive impairment or illusion is great, especially where perception and choice are concerned.5 One such example is illustrated in the Müller-Lyer illusion, an optical illusion, wherein the brain struggles to reconcile depth cues, size constancy and conflicting cues. The research makes clear the human brain’s tendency to process information reflexively, rapidly, and unconsciously, not just in this experiment, but also in the real world. When unchecked, cognitive biases frequently inspire emotional ambivalence toward valued-based differences, including aptitude, race, class or political views and lead to varying degrees of interpersonal conflict. One salient example is that of moral licensing, which occurs when “people derive such confidence from past moral behavior that they are more likely to engage in immoral or unethical ways later [and without any negative selfjudgment].”6 In a 2010 study, researchers found that “participants who had voiced support for U.S. President Barack Obama just before the 2008 election were less likely, when presented with a hypothetical slate of candidates for a police force job, to select a Black candidate for the role.7 According to their hypothesis, “presumably, the act of expressing support for a Black presidential candidate made them feel that they no longer needed to prove their lack of prejudice.”8 This example emphasizes the need to address the elephant in the room more directly, particularly where race relations are concerned. It is important to note that cognitive biases are not merely problematic at the individual level. They also pose a danger at the organizational level. The main difference is that the impact is increasingly multifaceted and pervasive. “[I]nsidious [cognitive] biases are often the main cause of ineffectiveness [within] organizations; but knowing about [their] existence and how they operate can lead to effective solutions to organizational 24


COGNITIVE BIASES AND THE DANGER OF THE DECISION-MAKING GAP

problems.”9 Understanding their impact on the portfolio of an organization’s attributes to include culture, communication, engagement, boundaries, influence, and relationships is critical to successfully managing its performance. Such insight has proven largely useful for customer-facing organizations where, for example, “operational transparency” and customer service are critical for attracting and retaining clientele.10 The good news is that, regardless of the target audience, awareness and the application of proactive strategies can help anyone think more clearly and make better overall decisions. According to a recent study, debiasing training can improve [one’s] ability to make rational decisions and avoid the errors commonly associated with faulty ways of thinking.11 This is why education and training are necessary to effectively address cognitive biases, especially in the workplace.

The following are seven common examples of cognitive biases 12

Anchoring Bias Salespeople exploit our susceptibility to the anchoring bias, wherein we use an initial piece of information as the yardstick for measuring other information. After seeing the sticker price on a new car (i.e., the initial information), a buyer might feel like they’ve beaten the bank by negotiating the price down 15 percent. In reality the dealership still comes out ahead. The buyer only believes they received a deal because they are comparing the final price to the initial price. Pro Tip: An effective way to combat the anchoring bias is to immediately delay the decision (or in some cases, the conclusion). Then, during an information-processing window, conduct an appropriate level of research and analysis before reaching a conclusion. If someone walks into a dealership knowing the average out-the-door prices in their area, that sticker price will be less likely to sway them. The goal here is to avoid an over-reliance on the anchor, which is no substitute for due diligence. 25


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Availability Heuristics The availability heuristic is the reason some people deny climate change. Memories of the one-hundred-year blizzard that buried the East Coast a few years back are easier to recall than those of gradually rising temperatures over decades. Too often we make decisions based on easy-to-recall facts that require little mental exertion. Pro Tip: To avoid the availability heuristic, acknowledge that our memories may not always serve us best. Then seek out credible information to best understand the landscape. In the climate warming example, before shooting down the collective knowledge of the scientific community, consider researching and evaluating their claims for validity. A fair amount of sweat equity is usually required to obtain accurate and trustworthy information, but such efforts are certainly worthwhile.

Confirmation Bias In a world of hyper-fractured media, it is easy to fall into the confirmation bias trap. The tendency to search for, interpret, or embrace information in a way that supports our existing beliefs and values does not necessarily legitimize them. More than that, the practice often leads to skewed thinking and poor decisionmaking. An example of confirmation bias is illustrated in the widespread notion that police officers only shoot Black males when they’re “up to no good,” so goes the belief, and the officers feel their lives are in danger. While this narrative functions mostly as pretext, it also sanctions an internalized fear of Black males, even when the evidence does not support such assertions.13 For example, Harvard sociologist Charles Ogletree points out that, “Ninetynine percent of Black people don’t commit crimes, yet we see the images of Black people day in, day out, and the impression is that they’re all committing crimes.”14 Inasmuch as confirmation bias is often associated with subjective validation, there are also inherently social and political 26


COGNITIVE BIASES AND THE DANGER OF THE DECISION-MAKING GAP

factors that may influence and bolster an individual’s or a group’s belief system. Pro Tip: An excellent way to confront confirmation bias is to examine information from multiple sources, including those offering evidence that counters your beliefs. Engaging in contrarian thought and healthy debate are also productive ways to counter this bias.

Fundamental Attribution Error When we commit a fundamental attribution error, we overemphasize character as the reason for anomalies in an individual’s behavior, while minimizing the role of situational dynamics. The cashier making mistakes at the register might not be a careless person; she may have just learned her mother passed and is easily distracted. Likewise, the fourth grader’s record-breaking consumption of his lunch each day—without regard to the rules of etiquette—may not be a function of poor home training. Perhaps this is the only meal he gets each day and cannot quite nourish himself fast enough. Pro Tip: To avoid fundamental attribution errors, resist the urge to instinctively levy blame and instead look for cause. Assume a person’s undesirable behavior is caused by tough luck or some other factor, rather than a reflection of poor character. Our tendency to judge and find fault usually fuels this bias. Empathy is a more valuable response.

Halo Effect The halo effect tricks us into believing that if one part is exceptional, then the whole must be, too. Companies collectively spend billions on advertising because they know consumers are prone to the halo effect. An excellent ad campaign often translates into increased sales across the board (not just for the featured sale items), even for average products. We see the impact of the halo effect across industries and it confirms the fact that knowledge, when effectively leveraged, can 27


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be extremely powerful. As a practical matter, it also demonstrates that critical thinking is not often prioritized when we engage in various modes of decision-making. Pro Tip: To avoid the halo effect, acknowledge that people—and organizations—are complex, and unfortunately being good at one thing doesn’t always translate into competency across the board. Additionally, increasing our level of cognitive strain—often achieved by escalating the amount of time and mental energy involved in making the decision—can expand our mental acuity and decrease our reliance on heuristics.

Ostrich Effect Ostriches don’t actually bury their heads in the sand to avoid unpleasantness, but we humans have a knack for avoiding mental discomfort by ignoring facts that contradict our beliefs. When someone continues to invest in poorly performing stocks despite repeatedly losing large sums of money, they might be suffering from the ostrich effect. Another common example is avoiding a doctor’s visit or follow-up appointment to circumvent an unwanted diagnosis. Yet another is disregarding unopened bills in hopes of distancing one’s obligations from the balances due. Obviously, tactics such as these only make matters worse, as the facts remain no matter how creatively one attempts to conceal them. Pro Tip: To avoid falling victim to the ostrich effect, pay just as much attention to costs as to benefits. Toe the line between faith and skepticism by being optimistic and acknowledging hard truths, rather than pretending they don’t exist. Finally, work diligently toward rectifying the situation, instead of being tormented by stress of the unpleasantness.

Framing Effect Spin doctors are masters of exploiting the framing effect. They know that opinions (whether held by an individual or the public 28


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at-large) can be swayed by the way they present information. Rather than admitting over-the-month unemployment increased ten percent, they might say it decreased three percent yearover-year. To be clear, the positive or negative connotations associated with the way information is presented often determines whether an individual will be risk adverse or risk tolerant. Those who seek to influence others are sensitive to this probability and likewise knowledgeable on how to frame information to their advantage. Pro Tip: If someone is prone to changing their opinions based on the way facts are framed, a great strategy is to seek points of comparison that shine the light on them differently. Illumination can make half-truths wither.

By realizing the various ways in which our thinking can go astray, anyone can learn to correct cognitive biases. And, by applying practical strategies that support our increased awareness, we can make the changes stick. It takes practice to make good decisions, but the rewards of rational choice are incalculable. To this end, individuals and organizations who prioritize this work can avoid the worst results. By changing our minds, we can change the world around us - one good decision at a time.15

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Notes: 1 – Dr. Joel Hoomans. “35,000 Decisions: The Great Choices of Strategic Leaders.” The Leading Edge, March 20, 2015, https://go.roberts.edu/leadingedge/the-great-choices-of-strategic-leaders. 2 – Darcie Reeson. “Cognitive Bias and How It Affects Healthcare Providers’ Decision Making.” Children’s Hospital Association, July 30, 2018, https://www.childrenshospitals.org/Newsroom/Childrens-HospitalsToday/Issue-Archive/Issues/Summer-2018/Articles/Cognitive-Bias-and-How-it-Affects-Health-Care-ProvidersDecision-Making. 3 – Jeff Desjardins. “Every Single Cognitive Bias In One Infographic.” Visual Capitalist, September 25, 2017, https://www.visualcapitalist.com/every-single-cognitive-bias/. 4 – Ben Yagoda. “The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain.” The Atlantic, September 2018, https://www. theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/09/cognitive-bias/565775/?gclid=CjwKCAjwsan5BRAOEiwALzomXRWgYWl4Yme3nsFUE_rOn4yZWcM8U0ZKShTGjyX0_zQqxzeo5eL2hoC67gQAvD_BwE 5 – Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). 6 – Adwoa Bagalini. “ 3 Cognitive Biases Perpetuating Racism at Work and How to Overcome Them.” World Economic Forum, August 19 2020, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/08/cognitive-bias-unconsciousracism-moral-licensing/. 7 – Ibid. 8 – Ibid. 9 – John Beshears and Francesca Gino. “Identifying the Biases Behind Your Bad Decisions. “ Harvard Business Review, October 31, 2014, https://www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2014/10/identifying-thebiases-behind-your-bad-decisions. 10 – Ibid. 11 – Anne-Laure Sellier, Irene Scopelliti and Carey K. Morewedge. “Debiasing Training Improves DecisionMaking in the Field.” Psychological Science, July 26, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797619861429. 12 – Karima Mariama-Arthur. “Expose Cognitive Biases for What They Are.” Entrepreneur Magazine, November 20, 2020, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/352159. 13 – Carol Rivers. “Confirmation Bias Has a Long History of Helping Whites Demonize Blacks.” Los AngelesTimes, December 12, 2014, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-rivers-confirmation-bias-race20141212-story.html%3f_amp=true. 14 – Ibid. 15 – Michael Lewis. The Undoing Project: The Friendship that Changed Our Minds. (New York: Norton, 2016).

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CREATING STANDARDS OF LEADERSHIP AND PROFESSIONALISM ROOTED IN BLACKNESS

Creating Standards of Leadership and Professionalism Rooted in Blackness by Jennifer M. Tardy and Brittany Crichlow. The measurement of Black representation through CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, at the top of organizational hierarchies, has decreased from six CEOs in 2012 to three today.1 According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data, among all U.S. companies with about 100 or more employees, Black people hold just about three percent of the executive or senior-level roles.2 But why? We believe part of the answer stems from how hiring leaders perceive leadership and professionalism. JENNIFER TARDY – is founder and owner of an award-winning, Maryland based, diversity recruiting consulting firm. BRITTANY CRICHLOW – is the Learning and Innovation Specialist with Jennifer Tardy Consulting.

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IT IS KNOWN that systemic issues are preventing increased diversity at the senior executive ranks for Black professionals. To unpack the causes for this underrepresentation, there are three areas we know are not the issue: The problem is not a lack of a business case to increase diversity. Firms that have the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33 percent more likely to perform better than their peers on profitability, and those with gender diversity in their executive-level worldwide forming 21 percent have a likelihood to outperform their industry competitors.3

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The problem is not a lack of desire among Black professionals for career advancement into the executive ranks. For example, Black women are more likely to aspire to hold a powerful position with a prestigious title than white women. Black women’s advancement into leadership roles has been seen to stagnate, even as their number in professional and managerial roles has increased.4 The problem is not a deficit in the workforce supply of Black professionals who are available. According to U.S. Census data, the availability of a talent pool of Black leaders (i.e., manager and higher) is nearly 1.5 million or seven percent of overall leaders in the U.S. See Figure 1. Figure 1 Workforce Supply of Black leaders among the U.S. Population 1,168,941

American Indian & Alaska Native Asian alone Black or African American alone Hispanic or Latino Native Hawaiian & other Pacific Islander alone Some other race alone Two or more races White alone Total Count: 21,744,895

1,491,877

5.4%

6.9%

2,177,277

10%

15,815,697

72.7%

490,707 456,619

2.3%

2.1%

So the question remains, why are we not seeing more Black professionals in leadership positions? To answer this question, we need to address the perception of how leadership potential is shaped and measured. In other words, by whose standards are we shaping and measuring leadership potential?

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An article by Ready and others suggests that to be perceived as a high potential employee, one must deliver strong results, master new types of expertise, and exhibit behaviors that reflect their companies’ values and culture in an exemplary manner.5 However, we know from the previously mentioned data that this is not true across race. If it were, then the percentage of Black professionals in executive positions would be higher. For professionals to enter leadership ranks, they must first be seen as high potential leadership candidates. According to Bridgespan, it’s the employees who can put together the total package – ability, aspiration, and engagement. They also have the highest potential to be promoted to organizations’ key leadership roles and succeed in them. One challenge is that high potential leadership standards are foundationally centered on standards of professionalism rooted in whiteness. The whiteness has become embedded and reflected in companies’ culture and values because of the historically white individuals’ skills, traits, and behaviors at the top. Therefore, the shaping and measurement of leadership potential are rooted in whiteness, creating a leadership obstacle course for Blacks and people of color. The less you assimilate to whiteness, the less likely you will be perceived as professional, leading to a lack of leadership potential and, therefore, less frequently identified as high potential. Sylvia Ann Hewlett talks about the idea of Executive Presence in her book with the same name,6 She breaks down cracking the code of executive presence to present unique challenges for professionals of color because standards of appropriate behavior, speech, and attire demand they suppress or sacrifice aspects of their cultural identity to conform. They further emphasized that the standard for professionalism and measuring leadership potential is rooted in whiteness. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2 Challenges of professionals of color and leadership potential as dictated by whiteness standards EXECUTIVE PRESENCE AT MY COMPANY IS DEFINED AS CONFORMING TO TRADITIONALLY WHITE MALE STANDARDS 73%

50%

African American

Asian

Source: Center for Talent Innovation

I FEEL THE NEED TO COMPROMISE MY AUTHENTICITY TO CONFORM TO EXECUTIVE PRESENCE STANDARDS AT MY COMPANY

48%

Hispanic

45% 37%

37%

Caucasian

African American

37%

Asian

Hispanic

30%

Caucasian HBR.org

However, this challenge is more deeply pervasive. Because these standards have been preserved and prevalent for so long, no matter the characteristics attributed to executives and leaders, an implicit bias must also be addressed. According to leadership categorization theory, leadership traits are more strongly associated with white people than ethnic minorities in Western societies. Further research also uncovered that those leadership roles are largely associated, automatically, and unconsciously, with white group members instead of people of color.7 Therefore, demonstrating that there is a collective agreement that takes place, demonstrating a pro-white leadership bias. To see an increase in Black professionals entering senior leadership roles, we must address the implicit bias hidden in the idea of high potential leadership by creating space for standards of professionalism and leadership rooted in Blackness. Standards of Professionalism and Leadership Rooted in Whiteness To understand standards of professionalism and leadership rooted in Blackness, we first need to identify standards rooted in whiteness. According to American grassroots organizer-scholars Tema Okun and Keith Jones, the standards of professionalism are heavily defined by white supremacy culture—or the systemic, institutionalized centering of whiteness. In the workplace, white 34


CREATING STANDARDS OF LEADERSHIP AND PROFESSIONALISM ROOTED IN BLACKNESS

supremacy culture explicitly and implicitly privileges whiteness and discriminates against non-Western and non-white professionalism standards related to dress, speech, work style, and timeliness.8 Seemingly race-neutral selection criteria can make whiteness a kind of unstated credential, for instance, in light of historical processes of segregation and discrimination that have helped create racially homogenous workplaces.9 These values, established over time as history and fact, create the narrative of white supremacy that underpins professionalism today, playing out in the hiring, firing, and day-to-day management of workplaces worldwide. The story unfolds many ways. In white and Western standards of dress and hairstyle (straightened hair, suits but not saris, and the burqa and beard bans in some countries); in speech, accent, word choice, and communication (never show emotion, must sound American, and must speak standard white English); in scrutiny (Black employees are monitored more closely and face more penalties as a result); and in attitudes toward timeliness and work style.10 In return, this concept of professionalism directly impacts how we perceive leadership. Impacts of Standards of Professionalism Rooted in Whiteness on the Black Leadership Pipeline Through these standards, three outcomes typically occur: (1) few Black professionals enter leadership immediately, (2) a significant number of promotions of Black leaders are delayed unnecessarily, and (3) the mass majority are rejected. 1. Few Black professionals enter leadership immediately. As previously stated, only three percent of people in executive roles are Black. The cost of being the first or one of the few mixed with the forcing of yourself into these standards create several downstream implications: ■ Assimilation: According to Frank Cooper’s white paper, one’s reputation within the institution, attributed to identity, may be as important to advancement as one’s actual performance.11 The minority employee will attempt to create the impression that the corporation is rewarded by engaging in identity performance

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practices, such as sending emails at late hours, to imply they are hardworking. Black men’s problem in the corporation is that they are often subject to stereotypes that negatively affect their attributed identity. This requires them to do extra identity performance work to succeed. ■ Authenticity Tension: As a result of assimilation, we believe it is not uncommon for Black professionals to experience authenticity tension. With relationship being necessary for achievement and advancement, deciding how much of yourself to bring to the workplace creates a sense of authenticity tension. According to Phillips and others’ article, decades’ worth of studies show that similarity attracts—a phenomenon known as homophily. Being one’s true self, disclosing elements of one’s personal life, and forming social connections are easier within one’s group than they are across a demographic boundary such as the racial background.12 ■ Racial Trauma: A form of race-based stress that affects Blacks and people of color when they experience and witness dangerous events and perceived racial discrimination experiences. For many, racial trauma appears as threats of harm and injury, humiliation, and often witnessing people of color being harmed, which can negatively impact one’s mental health.13 This can look like a top-performing Black employee being let go for the same mistake made by white employees in the workplace. ■ Imposter Syndrome: For people of color, imposter syndrome isn’t just an imaginary voice. Black professionals receive almost daily messages from society that they don’t truly belong. Feeling like an impostor can exacerbate the intensity of discrimination, and discrimination can also exacerbate the impact of impostorism.14 ■ The Glass Cliff: Another scenario that often occurs is that of people of color having their leadership ability tested by being placed in risky initiatives or assignments where they are not expected to succeed.15 This is known as glass cliff assignment. One that appears as if they are breaking through to glass ceiling only to go off a cliff. 36


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2. Promotions are delayed, often for years. A delay in promotion into leadership or executive ranks comes at the expense of being under-leveled or having more knowledge and skills for a role than necessary to perform its duties, responsibilities, and tasks. By the time many Black professionals are accepted into leadership, they are often overqualified for their current management role. The most critical challenge with these delays in executive leadership is in the messaging. Black employees are told that they are not yet ready for leadership without clear and concrete reasons or a professional development strategy. Black professionals are not told why they go unperceived as having characteristics of high potential leadership. Rather, employers double-down on the readiness factor stating that Black employees are not ready. Therefore, the employee is left to navigate the path to leadership alone. 3. A larger proportion of Black professionals who are openly rejected are ruled out or not considered. This rejection of candidacy has its downstream implications. ■ Employee Esteem. “Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance,” says Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live. With enough rejection, exclusion, and gaslighting, employees may begin to turn inward and wonder if something is wrong with them, ultimately affecting their self-esteem and, in effect, performance. ■ Psychological harm. This emerges when Black professionals continue to get overlooked for opportunities. The notion of working hard and trying to check all the boxes and be seen as having the leadership potential, only to be met with implicit bias and ultimately rejected, can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health, feeling trapped, threatened, humiliated, used, or all of these combined.16 ■ Corporate complex trauma. With enough rejection this can lead to corporate complex trauma, which arises from a series

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of what alone would be relatively minor traumas but traumatic when connected by repetition. As these traumas accumulate, the small but unsettling and distressing events culminate and exceed a person’s capacity to cope and disrupt emotional functioning. While these traumas have no accompanying threat of physical harm, they are ego-threatening due to the individual’s feeling of helplessness, along with guilt and shame.17 ■ Resignation. Clients often share hopelessness when met with a glass ceiling and believe that the only option is to resign. For example, when women feel hemmed in by rigid policies or a glass ceiling, for instance, they are much more likely to respond to the pull of family.18 Complicity in the Standards of Professionalism and Leadership Rooted in Whiteness Without a doubt, the standards of professionalism and leadership are contributing to the deficit of Black leadership. But who or what is responsible? As we learned before, a pro-white leadership bias is demonstrated across race, so we know that although the historical origination of the ideals began with white people, there has been a collective response to its preservation. Many factors are complicit in the preservation of standards of professionalism and leadership rooted in whiteness. ■ Culture Fit. Embracing the idea of culture fit versus culture adds leaves room for elusive notions of who does and does not belong in a company and leadership. ■ Definition of high potential leadership. Defining leadership potential as the ability to exhibit specific behaviors that reflect the company’s culture and values in an exemplary manner can lead to homogeneity among those who get to the next level. ■ Complicit leaders. These are leaders who have identified barriers and remain silent. ■ Complicit departments. Specifically, departments are meant to support leaders and offer checks and balances in decisionmaking. Departments such as Human Resources (i.e., HR Business Partners and Recruiters), General Counsel, Diversity 38


CREATING STANDARDS OF LEADERSHIP AND PROFESSIONALISM ROOTED IN BLACKNESS

and Inclusion, among others that fail to identify, acknowledge, or disrupt the bias baked into policies, practices, and behaviors that create barriers in hiring and promotion. ■ Employee enablers. These employees do not escalate matters and would prefer to exit the organization than to call out barriers. Creating Space for Standards of Leadership Professionalism Rooted in Blackness In 2016, Symone Sanders was the national press secretary for Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign. After one CNN appearance, she received an influx of emails criticizing her fingernails. Rather than responding to the emails or direct messages, she took to Twitter and shared her thoughts in a thread where she shared, “When someone tells me my nails, the dress or blouse I wore or my hair is ‘unprofessional,’ I find what they are saying is out of the norm for what they are used to seeing on cable news.” She went on to write that an agent once told her she wasn’t “palatable” enough for cable, and another suggested she take voice lessons to sound more “professional” — comments that reinforce racist perceptions that Black people aren’t intelligent, articulate, or suitable for the spotlight in their “natural form.” The solution to increasing diversity within senior leadership ranks is acknowledging the implicit bias of professionalism standards rooted in whiteness that shapes the way we view leadership potential. Rather than changing Black professionals, focus on changing the environment where they are observed and assessed. Create space for professionalism and leadership standards rooted in Blackness, or standards of professionalism inclusive of Black norms. Earlier, we identified that whiteness standards are prevalent in the workplace dress code, speech, work style, timeliness, and scrutiny, among other factors. To incorporate standards inclusive of Black norms means that leaders must: ■ Build cultural competence. Culturally competent individuals can understand and navigate cultures unique to their own (i.e., Black culture). They see professionalism as a fluid concept 39


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that manifests in diverse ways across cultures. This should be a requirement of leaders and high potential leadership candidates. ■ Learn how to mitigate unconscious bias in their assessment techniques. Teaching leaders to assess based on ability rather than physical features (i.e., clothing, makeup, nails, hair, etc.). ■ Be open and inclusive to diverse communication styles. This one is twofold. On the one hand, it is an individual who can actively listen to what is being said instead of how. For example, focusing on the presentation’s content and not being impacted by the accent or pronunciation. On the other, it is an individual who is aware of the power of language, recognizing the dynamic between the intent and impact of the language we use. ■ Getting comfortable with the discomfort of unfamiliar new images representing professionalism in the workplace. In addition, provide mentorship and sponsorship to individuals whose leadership style and professionalism are unique to your own. Only about 11 percent of Black women in corporate America have been sponsored and can powerfully advocate for investment in their career success. For this reason, leaders (overwhelmingly white men) tend to select, groom, and promote individuals who remind them of themselves. An unconscious bias that blinds them to prospective leaders who don’t look, act, or sound like they do.19 Who is Accountable for Redefining Standards of Leadership Professionalism? All employees play a part in redefining professionalism. However, the primary onus falls on leaders because, ultimately, they make the hiring decisions. Leaders have access to the hiring process and decide who progresses and who gets left behind. Therefore, in redefining and shaping standards of leadership professionalism, leaders must: ■ Acknowledge the problem that Black executives’ underrepresentation is due to unconscious bias in defining

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high potential professionalism and the inability to assess ability rather than physical features. ■ Deal with resistance. Understand that to create space for new images of professionalism will require leaders to deal with their resistance to change and diversity that is not assimilated in whiteness. ■ Be an authentic ally. Call people in when having courageous conversations. Debunk myths of unprofessionalism. Uncouple cultural misunderstanding from work performance. Redefine professional standards – continually ask yourself and others what is professionalism? How do we measure it? And by whose standards? Black senior leaders also have a specific level of accountability to create space for high potential leadership inclusive of Black norms, even though it is not a problem created by this group. Understand that this will feel like working within the problem and working on the problem simultaneously. This work includes: ■ Unlearning standards of professionalism rooted in whiteness. Do not fall victim to respectability politics where you feel you must police the behaviors of other Black professionals that do not adhere to traditional professionalism standards. ■ Role-modeling authenticity. In Grayson Perry’s recent docuseries, Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, he engages in dialogue with residents of Atlanta, Georgia, known as the Black elite. He asks provoking questions to unpack the concept of white privilege and its impact on the Black experience of professionalism and leadership. Within this docuseries, Perry highlights a space where professionalism and leadership rooted in Blackness already exist, but Black leaders are in-network and fellowship among other Black peers. Rather than codeswitching, redefining professionalism standards requires those who are currently in senior leadership to dress, communicate, work, and engage in the same manner with their white peers as they do with Black peers.

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■ Sponsorship. Publicly mentoring and sponsoring Black high performing employees that represent diverse images of professionalism. ■ Having courageous conversations. Have conversations that matter and that drive change. When you see something, say something. Underrepresentation of Black professionals can change, but it won’t change overnight, and it will not change without intentional and concerted action. Hope is not an action, and inaction is not a strategy. With a strong business case for increased representation, desire for leadership among Black professionals, and a clear workforce supply, we are better positioned today to create change than ever before—starting with professionalism and leadership. With all leaders’ support, in particular Black leaders, we can create space for professionalism and leadership standards rooted in Blackness. Notes: 1 – Ray, V. (2019). Why so many organizations stay white. Harvard Business Review. 2 – Chen, T.-P. (2020, September 28). Why Are There Still So Few Black CEOs? 3 – Pace, C. (2018, August 31). How Women of Color Get to Senior Management. 4 – Ibid 5 – Ready, D. A., Conger, J. A., & Hill, L. A. (2010, June). Are You a High Potential? 6 – Hewlett, S. A., (2014). Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success. 7 – Gündemir, S., Homan, A. C., Dreu, C. K., & Vugt, M. v. (2014). Think Leader, Think White? Capturing and Weakening an Implicit Pro-White Leadership Bias. 8 – Gray, A. (2014, June 4). The Bias of ‘Professionalism’ Standards. 9 – Ray, V. (2019, November 19). Why So Many Organizations Stay White. 10 – Gray, A. (2014, June 4). The Bias of ‘Professionalism’ Standards. 11 – Cooper, F. R. (2007). Against Bipolar Black Masculinity: Intersectionality, Assimilation, Identity Performance, and Hierarchy. 12 – Phillips, K. W., Dumas, T. L., & Rothbard, N. P. (2018, April). Diversity and Authenticity. 13 – Pridgett, T. (2020, July 22). Racial Trauma at Work — Here’s What It Looks Like and How to Navigate It. 14 – Wong, K. (2018, June 12). Dealing With Impostor Syndrome When You’re Treated as an Impostor. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/smarter-living/dealing-withimpostor-syndrome-when-youre-treated-as-an-impostor.html 15 – Smith, A. N., Watkins, M. B., Ladge, J. J., & Carlton, P. (2018, May 10). Interviews with 59 Black Female Executives Explore Intersectional Invisibility and Strategies to Overcome It. 16 – Renfrewshire Council. (2020). Psychological harm. Retrieved from Renfrewshire Council: http://www. renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/3005/Psychological-harm#:~:text=Psychological%20harm%20is%20one%20 of,that%20matters%20to%20the%20person.&text=Psychological%20harm%20can%20have%20a%20serious%20impact%20on%20a%20person’s%20mental%20health. 17 – Chick, G. (2019, April 4). Corporate Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD) Is the Scourge of the 21st-Century Workplace. Retrieved from Training Industry: https://trainingindustry.com/blog/compliance/corporatetraumatic-stress-disorder-ctsd-is-the-scourge-of-the-21st-century-workplace/ 18 – Hewlett, S. A., & Luce, C. B. (2005, March). Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success. 19 – Hewlett, S. A., & Wingfield, T. (2015, June 11). Qualified Black Women Are Being Held Back from Management.

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PERFORMATIVE ALLYSHIP LOOKS GOOD BUT GENUINE TRUST TAKES TIME

Performative Allyship Looks Good but Genuine Trust Takes Time by Ron Pegram Over the last four years, I’ve researched minority entrepreneurship and how a minority entrepreneurs’ lack of trust for banking systems impacts their willingness to borrow. As you might imagine, many minority entrepreneurs self-select out of the banking system, even when they need funding, if they don’t believe that banking systems are fair and trustworthy. After concluding my dissertation, I began to ponder the effects a similar lack of trust for corporate initiatives and policies might have for so many brilliant Black employees, who are locked out of the top echelons of the companies they helped to build. The result is this article, which reviews the benefits of trust, how trust is established, and ends with a call to action for corporate America to move beyond performative measures and begin real partnership with Black America. RON PEGRAM – is currently a Vice-President and General Manager for Federal Signal, Inc., and is an adjunct lecturer of management at several universities.

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UNDOUBTEDLY SPURRED BY THE SOCIAL UNREST during the summer of 2020, many well-known and large corporations took to social media to declare their support for Black Lives Matter, diversity, and equality. The collective message seemed to be, “We get it; it’s time for a change; you can trust us.” This is lovely sentiment, but, as we all know, true change takes time, and it is much harder to implement change than it is to craft messages. Unsurprisingly, many of my colleagues and friends maintain a healthy amount of skepticism in the face of so many companies pledging support. It all looks good but where do we go from here?

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I think we should begin with trust. Let’s assume that companies are being genuine with their supportive messages in the wake of 2020. Let’s also assume that those companies would like to build more trusting relationships with their Black employees. The questions we should then ask as leaders and stakeholders are many. Why does a company want a trusting environment? What are the benefits of trust within an organization? How do we build and maintain trust? Finally, what is trust exactly? The benefits of trust within an organization are profound Perhaps my favorite definition of trust comes from Earle, who suggested that trust is the willingness to make oneself vulnerable in the expectation of munificence.1 Said differently, this is someone taking a leap of faith because they expect to be supported. Such a leap of faith within a corporate setting might include sharing innovative ideas with teammates and managers, doing work beyond your current scope of responsibilities, or even having emotionally supportive relationships with coworkers and managers because you assume that the benefits of the firm will be distributed fairly. At a macro-level, trust is an engine of growth for a company. When there is trust between team members, the cost of doing business is lower and transactions happen faster. This is because trust reduces the need for contracts between people.2 A contract is a detailed, written specification that attempts to consider all possibilities. Although most of us are familiar with contracts that we sign to purchase a house or car, we also make verbal contracts with our managers regularly, and usually of the “So if I am willing to do this extra work for you, it should lead to this positive outcome for me...” variety. Rarely are those agreements written out explicitly, but trust reduces the need for them to be so formal. If everything doesn’t need to be spelled out completely, then a team can move faster as its members have faith that praise, and recognition will be awarded with equity. Trust also correlates strongly with one’s faith in the rule of law, whether that of a nation or company.3 When I believe I am

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generally being supported within a group, I am also more willing to subject myself to being adjudicated by that group. Within a corporation, we can think of the rule of law being the company’s human resources policies and procedures. Without trust, it is likely that I’d have zero faith in the company’s HR group to have my back if ever needed or to even evaluate me fairly. The constructive criticism in my evaluation that seems helpful today in a trusting environment could resonate with me very differently tomorrow in an untrustworthy setting. Sharing best practices and innovative ideas also requires trust between partners.4 Innovative ideas are often one of the best ways for team members to get noticed, especially within larger organizations. It takes faith for team members to propagate their good ideas for saving the corporation money, or growing the company’s sales, if they are not confident that some credit for the innovation will return to them in the form of increased career mobility. Although basic, the above evidence suggests at least a rudimentary questionnaire for anyone to use to discern their own trust in their current employer. Do you believe that your efforts to go above and beyond are noticed by your manager and senior leaders? Are you given credit for them? Do you trust that if you were treated unfairly, your current company’s HR leadership and policies could support you? Are you willing to share your best ideas with peers and managers because you believe you’ll be awarded proper credit? How many would answer yes to all? For those who honestly answer no to one or more of the questions, how much is your company losing from you because of the lack of a trusting environment. My guess is a lot. Developing and maintaining trust requires a review of power and equity Although most firms would probably go on record as saying that they try to foster a trustworthy team environment, the reality of that is complex in any scenario in which a majority group is asking a minority group to trust them. This is even more complex

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if the minority group is disproportionately underrepresented in leadership, because trust is sensitive to power imbalances and social distance between people. Power imbalances occur when one partner in a transaction has less dependence on the other than the other has on them. In such a scenario, the relatively weaker of the two is often motivated to trust the more powerful for reasons of hope. However, high levels of power have been shown to decrease the willingness of the more powerful partner to act in trustworthy fashion.5 Social distance occurs when a person is not easily accessible to another within a network. Businesspeople often turn to their networks when they need to access resources that they themselves may not have. In a corporate setting, you can think of an example of social distance as the theoretical space between a manager and the company’s CEO. Would a front-line manager feel comfortable communicating their concerns directly to the CEO, or would the manager feel compelled to use multiple channels of intermediate communication? Just as is the case with power imbalances, trust can be very sensitive to social distance between people.6 We tend to trust more when we can more freely interact without fear of judgment or of exclusion. If we apply this to many corporate settings, we can start to form a framework in which to view the average transaction between Black and white team-members. You can evaluate how likely power imbalances are to exist by asking whether it is typical that a Black team-member of Company A would have a position, authority, and title commensurate with their expertise and accomplishments when compared to a white team-member of Company A. You can evaluate how likely social distances are to exist by evaluating how likely it is that a white team-member from Company A would need the support of a Black team-member from Company A to implement certain corporate initiatives. If the answer to either is “not likely,” then research suggests the Black team-member may be hopeful that their white colleagues will act with munificence, but the white team-member has very little corporate incentive to

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do so. They have the power and the connections that their Black colleague does not. Many companies will try to address these power imbalances and social distances by making high-profile hires of talented and deserving senior Black leaders. This is to be commended and encouraged, especially given that just few Black CEOs exist across the S&P 5007. However, it is not enough. Trust is both a collective and individual decision. A company that selects high-profile hires of senior Black leaders but does nothing to address power imbalances and social distances in its rank-and-file management team will still have issues with trust. One way to explain this is to borrow the concept of ergodicity from economics. Ergodicity is used in economics to explain how a person views the benefits of a scenario based on the average outcome for all members. If I believe that my outcome is likely to be similar to the average outcome for all participants who have similar attributes to my own (education, accomplishments, experience), then I’m likely to view my involvement with that scenario more positively. If I don’t believe my outcome is likely to resemble the average, and, in fact is likely to be worse, I will make a very different decision. High-profile hires are needed but may do nothing to address fundamental power imbalances and social distances that happen daily between Black and white teammembers of a company. Specific tensions between Black and white people in a corporate setting The review of power imbalances, social distances, and equity that I recommend above really should happen whenever one group is the majority in a group setting, and a minority group has talent and skills to contribute. However, in the United States, there are specific tensions that persist between Black and white people in corporate settings that go far beyond the majority/minority paradigm. To begin, the historical patterns of racial segregation and discrimination that extend beyond work settings, to how our

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communities are designed, have left many Black Americans unsure of how much trust to place in the current system.8 This distrust is not unwarranted and has certain benefits. Research shows that healthy skepticism of white team-members can help Black team-members detect disingenuous motives from others.9 In addition, many white people express discomfort when there is a growing concentration of Black people within a community or group,10 and tend to negotiate more harshly and seek less mutually favorable outcomes when they are negotiating with Black team-members.11 These various aggressions, both micro- and macro- in nature, can leave Black team-members uncomfortable with their authenticity and uncomfortable discussing bias in the workplace.12 When groups don’t trust each other, trust for institutions suffers as well People are not just asked to trust other people when they are employed by a corporation. They are asked to trust the institutions of a corporation as well. I can remember an uncle telling me how his company “…always did right by him.” When he spoke of the company, he spoke of it as if it were a person and that’s because he trusted the company as an institution with rules and fairness. But when people don’t trust other people, this institutional trust is lower as well. One of the many academic theories on trust suggests that within a community, there are really three types of trust: personal (this is between you and people you perceive to be like you), interpersonal (this is between you and other groups that are different from you), and institutional (this is between you and the systems of a group).13 When interpersonal trust, or trust between different groups, is low, institutional trust declines. The analogy for corporations is very clear. If your environment is not one in which the minority group can easily trust the majority group, the minority group’s trust for the institutions of your company will be low as well.

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What does corporate America need to do? First, establish a change in attitudes Remember that this is an American issue, and that Black teammembers have been experiencing both overt and implicit racism for hundreds of years. To solve this problem will require leadership from the most senior managers of our top corporations. It simply is not fair to expect the rank-and-file managers of a company to make things fairer by themselves when they, themselves, are operating in an environment of power imbalance. Also, empathy is required. I recently read a letter from a white CEO that stated that the CEO was sure that their company was doing all it could in the wake of social unrest. While perhaps good-intentioned, the reality is that white managers often miss instances of racial discrimination, as Black team-members are five times more likely to report work-place discrimination than white team-members.14 Simply believing that a company is free of racism and discrimination, while simultaneously belonging to the majority in-power group, is hopeful at best and willfully blind at worst. Perhaps most importantly, companies need to begin to replace platitudes with action. The various messages that have come up in the wake of the summer of 2020 may be in the right spirit but performative allyship without real commitment advances no cause. It merely creates fatigue for all of us. Second, set a course of action! If we can allow ourselves the right empathy and commitment, there are certain actions companies can take right now to create greater trust. One of the most important of these actions is a review of the power imbalances that exist not just in top leadership positions but across the company. The issue facing Black Americans in corporate settings is no longer just one of diversity and the benefits from it, but a moral issue of years of underrepresentation. Many companies will make appointments of deserving Black leaders to senior ranks and to their boards, but

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how many will take the time to go through their actual teams to ask themselves the following: ■ Are Black team-members proportionately represented at all levels of supervisory positions? ■ Are Black team-members proportionately represented at all levels of developmental opportunities and training? ■ Are Black team-members proportionately represented in all important initiatives and corporate projects? ■ Have we recognized the educational achievements, tenure, and accomplishments of our Black team-members in such a way to produce equity across the various positions of the company? Actions taken to correct those imbalances where they exist can help. But remember, trust not only diminishes in environments of power imbalances, but also when there is social distance from one group to another. To mitigate unwanted social distances, we can consider who can be the friends and associates of the top management team at work. Everyone has seen the effects that informal work relationships can have on a career, and yet research suggests that Black mentee and white mentor relationships typically only work well when the Black mentee is willing to suppress salient racial identity.15 That is unfair and an example of social distance – the person with power opting to only engage in their terms and not being accommodating of the power and perception imbalance. For this to change for the better, senior white mentors must do three things – find the moral courage to genuinely mentor Black team-members, display the empathy and patience to listen, and consider changing all the instances of unfairness they learn of from their mentee. Without real action to combat inequity, Black team-members should be cautious of their trust of their employers. And without the full commitment and trust of Black team-members, most major corporations simply cannot optimize their results. In the wake of 2020, the onus is now on corporate America. If you want Black America’s trust, then earn it!

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Notes: 1 – Earle, T.C. (2009). Trust, confidence, and the 2008 global financial crisis. Risk Analysis, 29(6), 785-792. https://doi.org/20.1111/j.1539-6924.2009.01230.x 2 – Reiersen, J. (2017). Trust as a booster. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 18(4), 585-598. https://doi.org/10.3846/16111699.2017.1334228 3 – Bjornskov, C. (2012). How does social trust affect economic growth? Southern Economic Journal, 78(4), 1346-1368. 4 – Chen, Y., Lin, T., Yen, D. C., (2014). How to facilitate inter-organizational knowledge sharing: the impact of trust. Information & Management, 51, 568-578. 5 – Schlke, O., Reimann, M., & Cook, K. S., (2015). Power decreases trust in social exchange. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(42), 12950 – 12955 6 – Kwon, S., & Adler, P. S., (2014). Social capital: maturation of a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 39 (4), 412-422. 7 – Malloy, R. & Cortese, A. (2019) Inequality in the workplace: the conversation that won’t end. Briefings Magazine. Available online at https://www.kornferry.com/insights/articles/inequality-in-the-workplace-theconversation-that-wont-end 8 – Smith, S., S. (2010). Race and Trust. Annual Review of Sociology, 36(2010), 453-475. 9 – LaCosse, J., Tuscherer, T., Kuntsman, J. W., Plant, E. A., Trawalter, S. & Major, B. (2015). Suspicion of white people’s motives relates to relative accuracy in detecting external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 61 (2015), 1-4. 10 – Rudolph, T. J., & Popp, E. (2010). Race, environment, and interracial trust. The Journal of Politics, 72(1), 74-89. 11 – Oore, D. G., Gagnon, A., & Bourgeois, D. (2013). When white feels right: the effects of in-group affect and race of partner on negotiation performance. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6 (2), 94-113. 12 – Roberts, L. M., & Mayo, A. J. (2019). Toward a racially just workplace. Harvard Business Review. Available online at https://hbr.org/2019/11/toward-a-racially-just-workplace 13 – Buriak, A., Voznakova, I., Sulkowska, J., & Kryvych, Y. (2019). Social trust and institutional (bank) trust: empirical evidence of interaction. Economics & Society. 12 (4), 116-129. 14 – Society of Human Resource Management. (2020). Together forward at work. Available online at https://togetherforwardatwork.shrm.org/?utm_source=shrm_article&utm_medium=shrm.org&utm_ campaign=communications~together_forward~press_release 15 – Thomas, D. A. (1993). Racial dynamics in cross-race developmental relationships. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38 (2), 169-194.

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IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR FOR BLACK AND LATINA WOMEN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY

Implementation of a Pilot Global Leadership Accelerator for Black and Latina Women in the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Industry by Kemi Olugemo, M.D.; Monique Adams, Ph.D.; Patricia Cornet, M.A.; Charlotte Jones-Burton, M.D., MS Black and Latina women remain underrepresented at all levels in the pharmaceutical and life sciences (pharma) industry, with few women holding seats at the executive and C-suite level. Although various policies and programs aimed at increasing the number of female executives of color have been enacted with varying success within individual companies, a formal culturally competent global leadership accelerator (GLA) program with potential for broad adoption across the life sciences industry is currently lacking and is proposed as a solution to enact sustained and systemic change. KEMI OLUGEMO, M.D. – is currently Executive Medical Director, Neurology Clinical Development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the Director of Communications at Women of Color in Pharma. MONIQUE ADAMS, PH.D. – is Director, Janssen Clinical Innovation in Global Development at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company. She also serves as Vice President of Women of Color in Pharma. PATRICIA CORNET, M.A. – is Co-Founder & Board Member at Women of Color in Pharma as well as Group Director, Community Research Partnerships, US Medical Affairs at Bristol Myers Squibb. CHATLOTTE JONES-BURTON, M.D., MS – is dedicated to creating healthier communities globally through drug development, patient advocacy and people engagement/empowerment. She co-founded Women of Color in Pharma, and is currently VP, Global Clinical Development, Nephrology at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. 53


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Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP) implemented a level-agnostic accelerator pilot program to build a learning development model for women of color through individualized and group coaching, as well as strategic networking with industry peers and leaders. GLA participants underwent pre- and post-assessments including the Energy Leadership™ Index (ELI) assessment and the WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey, as well as individual and group coaching sessions. Post-program ELI assessments revealed a 15 percent increase in anabolic levels of energy and a 19 percent decrease in the most catabolic level of energy. Key findings also included enhanced self-awareness, mindfulness, and improved productivity. Overall, accelerator participation resulted in broadening of professional networks, acquisition of tools to respond to stress, and recognition of individual purpose.

BETWEEN JANUARY 29, 2020 AND JULY 31, 2020,

Resolving Challenges in the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Industry The pharma industry has been at the forefront of rapid change because of numerous societal issues such as growing healthcare costs, an expanding elderly population, digitization of clinical trials, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic created unprecedented disruption in all sectors and increased the need to work collaboratively in ambiguous and stressful conditions. This reinforced the need for a workforce with agile and innovative solutions to address the needs of evolving stakeholders. Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP) was established to address the needs of Black and Latina women in pharma. Since 2015, WOCIP has enhanced the visibility of women of color, a growing base of

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pharma professionals, by empowering them with resources to excel in their personal and professional development. Its priorities are to strengthen cultural and leadership competencies and to explore the link between emotions and energy to promote higher levels of self-care and leadership. These skills are developed through individual and group coaching programs, conferences and peer networks that help to develop personal and professional skills such as goal setting, active listening, emotional intelligence, communication, conflict management, mindfulness, and others. Work-related stress is prevalent amongst professionals and requires effective management to avoid burnout and deleterious effects on health. Mastery of core energy has been researched and identified as a sustainable way to enhance productivity, decrease stress, and increase leadership capacity.1,2 Tony Schwartz, founder of the Energy Project, has described how managing one’s energy increases fuel and capacity to work. He details four key renewable dimensions: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit which can be systematically expanded to establish rituals that will build energy.3 Bruce D. Schneider created Energy Leadership, an approach to leadership that empowers individuals to uncover inner blind spots and understand how experiences, values, and assumptions impact actions.4 Energy Leadership refers to the process of shifting your energy and the energy of those around you to create inspirational encounters, and to get more done with less effort and stress. The Energy Leadership principle describes two types of energy: anabolic and catabolic.5 Anabolic energy is useful in leading others in the same direction and involves increasing fuel, growth, and innovative techniques to achieve successful long-term solutions. Catabolic energy, on the other hand, is draining and resisting, providing a more constrained perspective with fewer choices. While catabolic energy can provide a short-term energetic boost to combat a stressful situation, it imparts mental, emotional, and physical tolls that can be detrimental. Research shows that the most successful leaders are those with high levels of anabolic energy.6,7 Those who lead using catabolic energy can get results in the short-term, however, these results are not sustainable.

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Coaching enhances business performance. A growing number of organizations are embracing the need for effective internal and external coaching programs as a solution for rapid talent development and to reduce executive stagnation. Recently the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Human Capital Institute (HCI) published shared data in a research paper that included over 366 participants across organizations of human resources, learning and development, and talent management professionals.8 This report identified markers of organizations with a strong coaching culture in contrast to organizations lacking a strong coaching culture. Those organizations with a strong coaching culture reported increases in ten key performance indicators compared to companies without a coaching culture (see Figure 1). Figure 1. Performance on key indicators in companies with and without coaching culture (adapted from HCI/ICF Research Survey) COACHING CULTURE EVALUATION

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ob ility

90% 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Non-Coaching Culture

Coaching Culture

The GLA Pilot Program was designed to enhance self-awareness and emotional intelligence for daily situations using energy management, to understand the impact core energy has on outcomes and to identify ways to modulate personal core energy, mindfulness and decision-making via individual/group coaching. It

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was hypothesized that combined coaching and learning in a group setting would increase personal and professional performance and increase energetic responses. This article provides quantitative and qualitative data from a group of women who participated in the pilot program and were exposed to peer learning, mindfulness practice and executive coaching. Methodology In the latter part of 2019, a committee of WOCIP Board of Directors and coaches reviewed 61 applications for the pilot program. Applicants were required to be WOCIP members who had never received formal coaching and were Energy Leadership Index (ELI) assessment naive. Applicants were also required to submit a written application as well as a three-minute video describing three areas of personal or professional growth and development they wished to achieve during the program. Openness to coaching was one of the factors required for selection and was evaluated from the videos. From the videos submitted, growth areas were identified and framed the key discussion points for the three group coaching sessions and six individual coaching sessions which were modified according to the individual agenda of the participant. The top ten areas for professional development were: ■ Self-advocacy ■ Increase confidence ■ Communication strategies, including communicating when under duress

■ Increase situational leadership

■ Demonstrating and articulating value

■ Creating and maintaining boundaries

■ Building and developing trust ■ Finding opportunities in obstacles

■ Managing up ■ Increase visibility and executive presence

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The coaching team developed three group coaching sessions using the most frequent development goals identified in the participants’ survey. The sessions were Self Care: Leadership Starts at Home (focus on mind body, spirit), Influential Communication (communication theory, DiSC styles), and Managing Your Career (situational leadership, managing up, and managing tasks with teams). Additionally, one, 90-minute webinar and six, 60-minute individual executive coaching sessions were made available to all participants. The Energy Leadership™ Index (ELI) assessment is a 70-item selfrated survey that is designed to quantify the amount of anabolic and catabolic energy in a person’s core energy disposition, under both stressful and non-stressful settings (Table 1). Table 1. Energy levels with corresponding core thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Energy Energy Type Level

Emotion/ Frame of Ref.

Action

1

C

Powerlessness

I lose

Lethargy

2

C

Conflict

I need to win

Defiance

3

A

Responsibility

I want to win but you can win too

Cooperation

4

A

Concern

I want you to win

Service

5

A

Opportunity

We both win

Acceptance

6

A

Synthesis

We always win together

Wisdom

7

A

Non-Judgment

There is no winning or losing

Creation

C=Catabolic A=Anabolic

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IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR FOR BLACK AND LATINA WOMEN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY

These levels are reflected in both the Energetic Profile (EP) and the Energetic Stress Reaction (ESR) profile. The EP describes an individual’s response under normal, i.e., non-stressful conditions, whereas the ESR describes an individual’s reaction when they experience a circumstance perceived to be a major stressor. GLA participants underwent the ELI assessment at the beginning and end of the program. The WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey was adapted from Schwartz and McCarthy and is a self-evaluation of energetic presence in areas relating to emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical habits. Participants were asked to rate their level of engagement on a scale of 1-5 (1 = not actively engaged in the activity and 5 = currently active in the activity). To evaluate the impact of the pilot program on participants’ levels of mindfulness and self-care, this survey was administered before and after the program. Results Of those who applied for the opportunity, 36 were found eligible based on criteria established by the review committee and 15 women were selected who were from North America and Europe and had functionally distinct roles (data not shown) from ten different pharma companies (Figure 2). Figure 2. The companies represented by GLA participants.

7%

6%

7%

20% 7%

7% 20%

7%

20% 13% 7%

6%

7%

7%

6% 20%

7% 7% 6%

Boehringer Ingelheim Genentech Nova Nordisk, Inc. AstroZeneca Bristol Myers Squibb Camargo Pharmaceutical Services Regeneron Sanofi Genzyme IQVIA GSK

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The level of engagement for all components of the program were high. All of the applicants completed the accelerator program. The majority of participants attended the program sessions, including the 90-minute Webinar (93 percent, n=14), all three group coaching sessions (80 percent, n=12), and all the executive coaching sessions (86 percent, n=13). Participants were asked to provide a 90-second video detailing their gains from the program and their impression of how successful they were in achieving their pre-program professional development goals. Four (27 percent) participants provided feedback via a 90-second video and seven (47 percent) participants provided written feedback regarding their growth as a result of the program. Overall, program participants learned the following skills: ■ Leadership presence ■ Situational leadership ■ Increased visibility ■ Confidence (she belongs) ■ Communication skills ■ Appreciation of different personalities and

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communication styles

■ Delegation skills ■ Better listening skills ■ Emotional Intelligence ■ Sustainable self-care practices


IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR FOR BLACK AND LATINA WOMEN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY

After the ELI assessment, participants had a one-on-one session with an executive coach who is an ELI-Master Practitioner to debrief and discuss their results. The assessment helped members raise their level of consciousness of blind spots and limiting beliefs that they could alter to transform their situations as detailed in their comments:

“The ELI assessment has increased my awareness of improvements I need to make immediately in the way I communicate at work. I realized in this conversation how one-word changes everything which is a major breakthrough for me. I know I will make immediate improvements with staff and project leads with this knowledge.” LT, Associate Director “The ELI assessment has helped me learn more about the energy levels and how my self-doubt impacts how I communicate about myself when looking towards advancement at work.” MO, Talent Acquisition “I’ve learned so much about how my unconscious energy impacts my intentions at work and at home. I’m going to need the support of coaching to help move me beyond my current state and into a better work environment.” CB, Physician

Positive group trends were observed in all key objectives as outlined below. Enhanced Self-Awareness Participant EP prior to program participation shows a range of energy levels with most exhibiting traits between levels three and five (Figure 3). Under normal conditions, leaders with these results tend to see possibilities and opportunities but can’t seem to get things done as they may be too far in the weeds. This group profile is one of leaders who will tolerate situations and people to maintain success while unconsciously losing their ability to recognize the resultant physical, mental, and emotional drain. Under stress, feelings of self-doubt, worry, or fear predominate, along with a restricted perspective (Figure 4).

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Figure 3. Amount (expressed as average percent) of specific energy levels under normal conditions as measured by participants’ responses on the ELI Assessments before (blue bars) and after (orange line) the pilot program. ENERGETIC PROFILE Measures of Efficacy (pre & post) Program 20 18 16

16.6

14

14.6

12 10

11.5

12

11

8 6 4 2 0

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Pre-Program Avg.

Level 4

Level 5

Level 6

Level 7

Post-Program Avg.

After the program completion, GLA participants showed an increased ability to see all possibilities while weighing their options before making decisions. The post-program profile is one of a highly conscious leader who creates and maintains synergistic relationships, and is able to leverage boundaries, allowing others to be responsible for themselves. Under stress, leaders with these results tend to exhibit lower levels of guilt, worry, or selfdoubt and less tendency to perceive themselves as victims of stressful situations. They accept the situation for what it is and do what is necessary to achieve success (Figures 3 and 4).

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IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR FOR BLACK AND LATINA WOMEN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY

Figure 4. Amount (expressed as average percent) of specific energy levels under stressful conditions as measured by participants responses on the ELI Assessments before (blue bars) and after (orange line) the pilot program. ENERGETIC STRESS REACTION 50 45 40

46.4

35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

Level 1

Level 2

7.7

7.7

7.5

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Pre-Program Avg.

2.5 3.3

Level 6

Level 7

Post-Program Avg.

Improved Productivity and Mindfulness Each participant benefited from the accountability that professional coaching and group participation in a safe environment provided. The group coaching sessions and the webinar offered a time to share concrete and actionable mindfulness and self-care behaviors that participants could enact to manage their energy. Responses to the WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey administered before and after the program was a measure of program efficacy on energetic presence in areas relating to emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical habits. The largest emotional improvement was the ability to breathe through stressful situations (Figure 5). Spiritually, the largest increases were the participant’s focus on being more connected to their purpose and being fully present at home (Figure 6). Mentally, the greatest increase was the intentional practice of setting aside quiet time for themselves which fostered better preparation for future responsibilities (Figure 7). Physically, the most gains were the ability to disconnect at least one day of the weekend, getting at least six hours of sleep and intentionally taking breaks during the workday to allow for greater productivity (Figure 8). 63


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Figure 5. WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey evaluation of activities that correspond to emotional energy (participants rated on a scale of 1 to 5). EMOTIONAL ENERGY 5 4.5 4 3.5

3.9

2

3.5

3.4 3.1

3 2.5

4.6

4.2

4.0

2.2

1.5 1 0.5 0

I breathe through the stress

I praise other women of color daily

When upset, I find options

Pre-Program Avg (n=15)

I find opportunity in adversity

Post-Program Avg (n=9)

Figure 6. WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey evaluation of activities that correspond to spiritual energy (participants rated on a scale of 1 to 5). SPIRITUAL ENERGY 5 4.5

4.4

4 3.5 3

4.1

4.3 3.9

3.7 3.6 3

2.5

2.4

2

3

2.1

1.5 1 0.5 0

1 act of kindness

Zone of genius

I remove activity not connected to my purpose

Pre-Program Avg (n=15)

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Guided by core values

Post-Program Avg (n=9)

I am fully present at home (away from work)


IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR FOR BLACK AND LATINA WOMEN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY

Figure 7. WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey evaluation of activities that correspond to mental energy (participants rated on a scale of 1 to 5). MENTAL ENERGY 5

4.8

4.4

4.5 4 3.5

3.1

3

2.4

2.9

2.5 2 1.5

1.6

1 0.5 0

Daily affirmation

Checks emails in blocks

Pre-Program Avg (n=15)

15 mins. daily quiet time

Post-Program Avg (n=9)

Figure 8. WOCIP Energy Essence™ Survey evaluation of activities that correspond to physical energy (participants rated on a scale of 1 to 5). PHYSICAL ENERGY 5 4.5

4.7

4 2.9

4.4 3.8

4.1

3.5 3

4.5

3.4

3.4

2.9

2.5

2.5

2

2.4 1.6

1.5 1 0.5 0

Disconnect on weekends

Outsource

6 hrs sleep

Pre-Program Avg (n=15)

16oz - water

Exercise 2/week

Take breaks telecommuting

Post-Program Avg (n=15)

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Discussion and Future Steps The ability to manage stress is critical in the pharma industry, and a highly sought-after trait in leaders. Black and Latina women experienced unprecedented stress as a result of systemic and structural societal issues and remain less likely to secure leadership roles that involve profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities which are known to influence access to executive roles. The levels of stress disproportionately experienced by Black and Latina women during the COVID-19 pandemic, which coincided with this pilot program have been documented.9 The GLA coaching program was designed to test the hypothesis that individual and group coaching would lead to increased efficacy and improve personal and professional performance via energetic response. Program participants achieved greater anabolic energy, driving increased self-awareness and ability to respond professionally under duress. Furthermore, the broader professional network enhanced recognition of purpose and resulted in increased compensation and career trajectory for many participants. Leaders who can tap into anabolic energy can elevate engagement and empower their staff, thereby creating a sustainable work environment. Limitations of the program include the six-month duration and omission of didactic and experiential learning. Nevertheless, the benefits of the ELI Assessment, mindfulness practice and coaching in this pilot program are clearly demonstrated and will inform future research and strategies. Due to the effectiveness of the pilot, WOCIP will expand participation to 45 women and lengthen the program to up to 36 months beginning in 2021, with the aim of developing a curriculum to strengthen cultural and leadership competencies to support patient care globally. The accelerator is poised to enhance strategic thinking capabilities and business acumen, and to reinforce the importance of the link between emotions and energy to promote higher levels of selfcare and leadership that are critical to successful navigation of complex corporate environment. This program was supported with unrestricted funds from Genentech and Sanofi. This work would not have been possible

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IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR FOR BLACK AND LATINA WOMEN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY

without the expertise and oversight of the WOCIP consultant coaching team led by Tamarra Causley Robinson and Jamon Bailey. Special thanks to the GLA participants and WOCIP Board of Directors. Your tireless support, novel ideas, and late evening work has not gone unnoticed. Notes: 1 – Schwartz T., McCarthy C., Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. Harvard Business Review Magazine. October 2007. 2 – Schneider B. Energy Leadership: Transforming your Workplace and Your Life. Wiley. November 2007. 3 – Ibid note 1 4 – Ibid note 2 5 – Doyle H., Does Coaching Work? New Scientific Evidence Points to Yes. Accessed online at https://www. ipeccoaching.com/blog/does-coaching-work-new-scientific-evidence-points-to-yes. January 10, 2021. 6 – Buck KA., Galer D., Key Factor Revealed for Determining Success in Work and in Life. Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. 2011. 7 – Ibid note 1 8 – Filipkowski J., Heverin AT., Ruth M., Building Strong Coaching Cultures for the Future. Human Capital Institute/International Coaching Federation Research Survey. November 2019. 9 – Thomas C. et.al. Women in the Workplace 2020. McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org.

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THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF BLACK WOMEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA

The Unique Experience of Black Women in Corporate America by Chelsea Carter, EdD, NCC Women do not have a universal experience in Corporate America. The notion that all women are challenged with breaking the glass ceiling has been debunked. For Black women, the ceiling is not made of glass, but of dense, impermeable, nearly unbreakable, concrete. Breaking through the concrete ceiling is not impossible, but Black women cannot permeate the heavy barrier alone. Black women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, specifically engineering, face additional obstacles. In a 2019 qualitative study, the lived experiences of five Black female executive-level leaders with engineering degrees were examined. Three themes emerged from the study: Simultaneous Navigation of Complex Constructs, Concurrent Experience of the Past, Present, and Future, and Mental Strength and Inner Drive. DR. CHELSEA CARTER – is a National Certified Counselor, Leadership SME, and Human Resources Professional with over 20 years of experience in rallying teams, driving results, and building bridges.

C

CAREER PROGRESSION FOR BLACK WOMEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA

has remained unchanged for decades. Though Black female professionals have been fairly represented in entry to middle level management there has been limited access to executive level positions, therefore, Black women continue to be underrepresented in executive levels in Corporate America.1 From 2002 to 2017, the number of Black female corporate officers in Fortune 100 companies increased, 0.02 percent, from 1.1 percent2 to 1.3 percent3. The ability for Black women to ascend to roles of increasing responsibility appears to be significantly hindered. What is happening and how can this systematic recurrence be disrupted to allow for promotional opportunities? 69


CARTER

Glass ceiling vs. Concrete Ceiling Collectively women face challenges in Corporate America including discrimination, unconscious bias, and pay equity, known as; the glass ceiling effect. For Black women the glass ceiling is not the sole roadblock, as there are additional barriers they experience. These barriers comprise the concrete ceiling. The concrete ceiling is denser and more difficult to shatter than the glass ceiling. Barriers contributing to the concrete ceiling include stereotypes, scrutiny, credibility, double outside status, and exclusion from informal networks. These barriers are complex and difficult to navigate. It is reasonable to understand that given these challenges Black women opt out, stall out, or simply give up on ascending the corporate ladder. The concrete ceiling is a complex phenomenon. It is a unique impermeable barrier experienced by Black women that affects one’s “ability to ascend in an organization, but also the ability to co-exist”.4 Black women leaders in Corporate America In addition to the daily obligations, familial roles, and historical implications, Black women are also tasked to manage the intersection of gender and race in the workplace. For Black women in leadership positions this is a more pronounced challenge. Black women have a distinct experience in which their leadership styles may mirror white male approaches, resemble American middleclass women nuances, while also displaying a distinctly Black female approach to leadership. Black women’s upward leadership mobility has also been impeded by bias, lack of mentoring, exclusion from social and informational networks, and uneven distribution of low status assignments.5 Oppression, specifically sexism and racism, leadership styles, and perceptions may hinder the ability for Black women to obtain roles of increasing responsibility. What is important to note is Black women do not have the luxury of navigating any one barrier singularly but are challenged to navigate the intersectionality of various factors. Patricia Collins, a Black feminist trailblazer and

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THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF BLACK WOMEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA

author of Black Feminist Thought, argued that to fully understand the experience of Black women the analysis of oppressions should not be compartmentalized because this is not their experience, instead one should simultaneously consider the complex interplay between race, class, gender, and sexuality.6 These factors can be further compounded in male-dominated organizations and in STEM industries. The Plight of the Black Female Engineer There is a scarcity of Black women in STEM fields, specifically engineering. According to a joint study conducted by the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers, approximately one in four Black women leave the engineering profession within the first five years of entering it.7 Although reversed, this statistic means that three quarters remain, even a one quarter attrition rate prematurely decreases the number of potential female engineers available to advance to executive leadership positions. Although women have made significant gains in the engineering industry, there were only two Black women in the top 39 women engineers in 2018.8 In a 2019 qualitative study, the lived experiences of five Black female executive-level leaders with engineering degrees were examined. All participants earned a degree in engineering and represented various industries including manufacturing, technology, and aerospace. Three themes emerged from the study: Simultaneous Navigation of Complex Constructs; Concurrent Experience of the Past, Present, and Future; and Mental Strength and Inner Drive.9 Though the women interviewed successfully broke through the concrete ceiling, the intersectionality and complexity of their stories provides context to mainstream data and commentary highlighting the dearth of Black female leaders in Corporate America. ■ Simultaneous navigation of complex constructs The women interviewed shared how navigating engineering-centric, male-dominated and non-diverse industries was challenging. They also noted the difficulty of dealing with the various nuances

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CARTER

of their career and leadership progression, especially related to gender, race, and societal factors. The participants shared how they managed these, at time, competing constructs. Interestingly, all interviewed noted either their academic experience in college or early career experiences as pivotal to their ability to successfully navigate the complex constructs in which they work today. ■ Concurrent Experience of the Past, Present, and Future The study participants also shared their experience of concurrently managing historical challenges Black people have faced in the United States, while working within and attempting to change their current company landscapes in order to make a future path for Black female engineering professionals. When describing their experiences, the participants explained that having this deep awareness was burdensome, at times, but necessary to make a way for change and create a path for future Black female engineering executives. Like the first theme, the participants did not delineate gender independent of race, evidence of intersectionality which frames the simultaneous, inseparable interplay of oppressions experienced by Black women. ■ Mental Strength and Inner Drive Lastly, findings of the study revealed that perseverance, self-awareness, overcoming moments of self-doubt, and fearlessness enabled the participants to navigate the first two themes. Additionally, it was discovered that the mental fortitude the women demonstrated did not mature overnight; it evolved through life experiences and ongoing personal development. All participants discussed the importance of personal development and the importance of mentors and coaches. The importance of support networks was also highlighted. Their relentless inner drive was evident through their stories, authenticity, and career accomplishments against the odds. Insights from the study can not only empower and encourage Black women who have successfully ascended the Corporate ranks but also sensitize young Black women to what to expect if

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THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF BLACK WOMEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA

they choose to enter engineering, like fields, or have Corporate leadership aspirations. As the research indicates, breaking through the concrete ceiling is not impossible, but Black women cannot permeate the heavy barrier alone; they need help. Partnerships with corporate leaders, including human resources, as well as strong support networks are critical to changing the narrative. ■ Corporate leadership Corporate leaders have an integral role in influencing corporate culture and the acceptance, inclusion, and promotion of Black women. Leaders are change agents, make decisions, and model behavior that help shape an organization’s culture. Creating a corporate culture in which career progression for Black women is fostered is multi-faceted. Factors that corporate leaders influence include hiring practices, promotional decisions, mentoring, sponsorships, and development opportunities.10 Ensuring that Black women are equally provided these opportunities may show other Black women in the company that upward mobility is possible. Creating a corporate culture of possibilities despite racial and gender differences may not only increase employee engagement and employee loyalty, but positively impact organizational profitability.11 This approach may challenge corporate leaders on a personal and professional level. Firstly, corporate leaders may need to become aware of unconscious or conscious biases that may be inhibiting their support of the career progression of Black women. Secondly, leaders may need to be open-minded to differences related to the leadership style of Black women as it may differ from white male leaders or other previously preferred methods.12 Lastly, corporate leaders and human resources may be challenged to reevaluate current succession practices. In sum, to increase promotional opportunities for Black women, corporate leaders may need to engage with and develop Black women differently.

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■ Support Networks Support networks comprise people in which one trusts, feels safe, leans on for encouragement, and celebrates with when accomplishments are achieved. Support networks can include mentors and sponsors, prayer circles, sorority sisters, family and friends, and peers and colleagues. The purpose of a support network is to be safe haven and respite and involves stability, sustainment, and positive assistance regardless of expertise. Black women have reported using support networks as a coping strategy to manage racial microaggressions. Additionally, Black women who were most successful in their career pursuits had a support network including coaches and mentors. Support networks provide Black women an outlet for their frustration and augment their career advancement strategies by meeting their psychological needs by bolstering their mindset and sustaining their inner drive to succeed. Supporting Black Women Throughout Their Career Journey There are a variety of interventions that may help women navigate the labyrinth of Corporate America and overcome the challenges the concrete ceiling presents. The interventions proposed align to four career phases: College, Early Career, Mid-Career, and Senior Leadership. In each of these phases Black women experience unique challenges and opportunities. Mentoring, coaching, and shared experience support networks have been found to help Black women navigate the obstacles they face throughout the phases of their career journey. ■ College: Mentoring Mentoring for Black female college students is recommended because it may provide an outlet to address the unexpected academic rigor and cultural challenges young ladies may encounter. Mentoring at this career phase is beneficial because mentoring has been found to be an effective way to overcome internal obstacles. Though not required, it is ideal in this phase if mentors are same gender and race; as such exposing young Black females to Black female professionals. This early exposure

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THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF BLACK WOMEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA

may boost career efficacy and sensitize students to the realities of Corporate America, both equipping them with tools to navigate their college experience and potentially their career journey. ■ Early Career: Formal Mentoring Formal mentoring is recommended for Black women who are early in their career. Matching women with senior leaders through a formal process is ideal because this intervention creates intentional connections, increases employee engagement, and thus may increase their retention. Unlike the mentoring recommended for college students, this formal mentoring engagement is not gender or race specific. The goal of formal mentoring is to provide Black women with exposure to leadership and chances to develop relationships and learn from others. Formal mentoring may help mitigate women opting out of challenging fields, stalling out in the early stages of their career, or simply giving up. ■ Mid-Career: Executive Coaching Executive coaching at this phase in a woman’s career can be game-changing. Instead of receiving advice, recipients of coaching address questions, challenge their own assumptions, learn about resources, and gain clarity.13 Executive coaching may increase the confidence of Black women in middle management, which is essential to the type of mindset needed for Black women transitioning from middle management to more senior leadership positions. Research indicates that women need to experience an identity shift when transitioning to more senior level roles.14 Executive coaching can provide the platform for women to work through this identity shift and the adoption of a more strategic leadership perspective and overcome obstacles and work through challenges related to negative self-talk and self-defeating behaviors thus increasing self-confidence. ■ Senior Leadership: Shared-experience support network A compelling finding in the research noted previously is that when the participants discussed their support networks, they did not reference women in their profession or similar corporate 75


CARTER

positions. One can speculate that likeminded support is needed due to the number of challenges Black female leaders experience. An Executive Sisters Collective or a sister circle may provide this support. Extending existing research,15 sister circles are support groups that build upon existing friendships or encourage new relationships for the purpose of creating a sense of community. Sister circles have been proven to help address factors relevant to Black women’s lives such as “feelings of isolation, the multiple roles undertaken by Black women”. Sister circles can be a group of women within an organization or a group of women having the same experience. In this instance, the participation in an Executive Sisters Collective, a group of Black female senior leaders in Corporate America.15 Summary To view this issue solely as a race-based concern would be short-sighted as there are business and societal implications. Firstly, diversity matters. Numerous studies have proven the link between diversity and company financial performance. Secondly, Black women represent nearly two-thirds of the workforce and are a growing source of talent that can be leveraged to connect with the ever-growing and evolving diverse marketplace. Lastly, the dearth of Black women in senior leadership levels may mean there are fewer career role models for young Black girls. Without these role models, young ladies may not see leadership as a realistic and attainable goal, thus decreasing their career self-efficacy, and perpetuate the problem. There are far too-few Black female executives in Corporate America. There are many factors contributing to this phenomenon. Black women have a unique experience in Corporate America and are challenged to navigate the intersectionality of race and gender and successfully ascend in male-dominated and non-diverse companies. However, the plight of Black women leaders is not bleak. There are Black women who have successfully breached the concrete ceiling. However, they did not accomplish this great feat alone. To increase Black female representation at senior leadership ranks, corporate leaders 76


THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF BLACK WOMEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA

and human resources will need to take an active role. Through individual perseverance and relentlessness and support through mentorship, coaching, and support networks, Black women can break through the concrete ceiling and pave the way for aspiring Black female executives. Notes: 1 – Holder, A., Jackson, M., & Ponterotto, J. (2015). Racial microaggression experiences and coping strategies of Black women in corporate leadership. Qualitative Psychology, 2(2), 164-180. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ qup0000024 2 – Catalyst. (2004). Advancing African-American women in the workplace: What managers need to know. New York, NY: Author. Retrieved from https://www.catalyst.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Advancing_African_ American_Women_in_the_Workplace_What_Managers_Need_to_Know.pdf 3 – Catalyst. (2017). Women in S&P 500 companies by race/ethnicity and level. New York, NY: Author. Retrieved from https://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-sp-500-companies-raceethnicity-and-level 4 – Beckwith, A., Carter, D., & Peters, T. (2016). The underappreciation of African American women in executive leadership: What’s getting in the way? Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 7(4), 115-134. 5 – Cook, A., & Glass, C. (2008). But can s/he lead? Market assessments of Black leadership in corporate America. Journal of Workplace Rights, 13(3), 337-351. doi:10.2190/WR.13.3.g 6 – Collins, P. H. (1998). Toward a new vision: Race, class, and gender as categories of analysis and connection. In M. L. Anderson & P. H. Collins (Eds.), Race, class, and gender: An anthology (pp. 213-223). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 7 – Rincon, R., & Yates, N. (2018). Women of color in the engineering workplace: Early career aspirations, challenges, and success strategies. Alexandria, VA: National Society of Black Engineers. Retrieved from http://www.nsbe.org/ getmedia/b01e0f12-9378-46b0-ad4d a0f513b947a5/Women-of-Color Research 8 – Bort, J. (2017, February 22). The 43 most powerful female engineers of 2017 [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/most-powerful-female-engineers-of-2017-2017-2#no-2-sandias-jillhruby-42 9 – Carter, C. (2019). Breaking Through the Concrete Ceiling: Lived Experiences of African American Female Executive-Level Leaders with Engineering Degrees. Retrieved from https://dspace2.creighton.edu/xmlui/ bitstream/handle/10504/125058/Dissertation%20-%20Carter2.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y 10 – Baumann, H. (2017). Stories of women at the top: Narratives and counternarratives of women’s (non-)representation in executive leadership. Palgrave Communications, 3, Article #17009. doi:10.1057/ palcomms.2017.9 11 – Hunt, V., Prince, S., Dixon-Fyle, S., & Yee, L. (2018). Delivering through diversity. Chicago, IL: McKinsey and Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/ Organization/Our%20Insights/Delivering%20through%20diversity/Deliveringthrough-diversity_full-report.ashx 12 – Sanchez-Hucles, J., & Davis, D. (2010). Women and Women of color in Leadership. American Psychologist, 65(3), 171-181. doi:10.1037/a0017459 13 – McCarthy, D. (2019, June 25). A manager’s guide to coaching for executives. Retrieved from The Balance Careers website: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/managers-guide-to-executive-coaching-2275823 14 – Ely, R., Ibarra, H., & Kolb, D. (2011). Taking gender into account: Theory and design for women’s leadership development. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(3), 474-493. 15 – Neal-Barnett, A. M., Staduliss, R., Payne, M. R., Crosby, L., Mitchell, M., Williams, L., & Williams-Costa, C. (2010). In the company of my sisters: Sister circles as an anxiety intervention for professional African American women. Journal of Affective Disorders, 129(1-3), 213-218. .

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About the Contributors Monique Adams, Ph.D. is Director, Janssen Clinical Innovation in Global Development at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company. She is a thought expert on identifying innovative ways to improve the clinical trial experience for patients, clinical sites and the clinical teams who design and run the studies. Monique has a BS in biology, a MS in physiology, and earned her Ph.D. in pharmacology from University of Washington. Chelsea Carter, EdD, NCC is a National Certified Counselor, Leadership SME, and Human Resources Professional with over 20 years of experience in rallying teams, driving results, and building bridges. An exemplar collaborator and communicator committed to exceptional employee experience and future-focused leadership development. Patricia Cornet, MA, is the co-founder and Board Member Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP). Cornet is Group Director, Community Research Partnerships, US Medical Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS). Brittany Crichlow is the Learning & Innovation Specialist with Jennifer Tardy Consulting. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish, a Master’s in Intercultural Relations, and has wide-ranging experience as an instructional designer, intercultural and soft skills consultant, and diversity trainer/ specialist. Charlotte Jones-Burton, M.D., MS is dedicated to creating healthier communities globally through drug development, patient advocacy and people engagement/empowerment. Her three-pronged approach reflect her personal values of community, service and health and wellness. Jones-Burton is currently VP, Global Clinical Development, Nephrology at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. She is co-founded Women of Color in Pharma, a non-profit professional society focused on transforming the pharmaceutical landscape with women of color. Karima Mariama-Arthur is founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm with exclusive expertise in professional development and advisory services worldwide. 79


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Kemi Olugemo, M.D. is a Neuroscience Researcher and Healthcare Advocate. She is currently Executive Medical Director, Neurology Clinical Development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Olugemo is the current Director of Communications at Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP). Ron Pegram is a recent Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. In addition to his doctoral degree, Ron holds active CPA licenses in multiple states, and has earned a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Business Administration from James Madison University. Ron is currently a Vice-President and General Manager for Federal Signal, Inc., and is an adjunct lecturer of management at several universities. Lee Pham is an experienced business leader with interdisciplinary expertise in strategy, finance, law, and engineering. He holds a distinct competency in intellectual property as a patent attorney. His work influences and enables corporate transactions, partnerships, and investment across digitally intensive organizations. He codeswitches all the time. Jenn Tardy is founder and owner of an award-winning, Maryland based, diversity recruiting consulting firm, Jennifer Tardy Consulting (#TeamJTC). Through coaching programs for job seekers and diversity training programs for hiring leaders, #TeamJTC is on a mission to make it easy for recruiters and historically underrepresented job seekers to meet and forge career success.

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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 978-0-578-85756-5

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ELC Research Journal for Black Professionals - Winter 2021