Getting through the door in any sector is hard. Getting through the door as a Black professional is even harder.
At such a time when we are crying out for fundamental changes to be made when it comes to the opportunities that corporations are offering to Black professionals, it must be said that this under no circumstances, is inferring that opportunities should simply be given to satisfy the masses with no serious intention or substance behind it. That does not create any long-lasting effective change or impact to the status quo, because these opportunities would not be given not based on merit, but merely satisfying an agenda.
When we ask for a change to be made amongst corporations, it means them giving opportunities, legitimate opportunities to Black professionals because they are qualified and suited for said opportunities, not just because they are in the right place at the right time to suit the diversity ‘quota’.
We’ve seen how this story plays out where jobs and positions are given to Black employees simply to suit diversity key quotas. Clear lack of progression for their career prospects. Made to feel like they are simply tokens put in place because of their colour. Feelings of imposter syndrome as they feel they don't belong in the workplace. Knowing that despite their high level of skills and qualifications they were still given handouts at best. No surprise that those employees end up leaving the company after not too long.
We are asking for more now. We need more companies to seriously evaluate their systems and processes when it comes to hiring and recruiting Black talent and we need more companies who are willing to offer opportunities for said talent to show that they can be assets. Contrary to what many hiring teams at a lot of companies may say, the Black talent is out there at all levels if you are serious about looking for it. But it does involve removing cultural and educational biases and expanding the net outside the traditional recruitment criteria. Which in such a day and age this should not be an impossible feat.
It does boggle my mind how the benefits of hiring Black and diverse talent are positively shown in the company's fabric through improved products, a more dynamic and cultured workforce and a greater grasp of social consciousness when it comes to matters such as Black Lives Matter, yet still, we are faced with this fight where are urging companies to simply hire more black people, let alone foster a workforce where competent and skilled black employees are able to advance up the corporate ladder into senior and management positions.
There is so much Black talent out there, just to pigeonhole them into roles with limited importance or progression when their skill sets allow them to offer so much more. But it takes a forward-thinking and progressive company to be willing to take more chances in offering those opportunities where possible. Black professionals just want to be able to compete for the same roles as their non-Black counterparts, without stumbling blocks being thrown at them based on their colour, which prevents them from even getting into the door.
Black professionals don’t need ‘help’, they don’t need handouts, they need opportunities. And until those can be offered consistently based on the merit and competency of the individual rather than their skin colour, we can't even start to effectively break down the barriers on race inequality in the workplace.
Written by Tonte Bo Douglas (@TalkWIthTonte)