Workplace Equity: Key Learnings from the Center for Talent Innovation

On Thursday July 23, EACA attended the Unstereotype Alliance 4° Digital Moment. The discussion focused on the experience of black people in the workplace and on how to build a more equitable culture for black professionals.

Julia Taylor Kennedy, Executive Vice President of the Center for Talent Innovation shared learnings from the recent “Being Black in Corporate America” report and outlined key measures that employers should take to acknowledge racism and disrupt bias in the workplace.

Considering the career paths of black people, the study shows that although black students represent 10% of college degree holders in the US, only 3,2% hold executive/senior level positions. The percentage goes down to 0,8% when it comes to fortune 500 CEOs. It is not surprising that one in five black professionals feels that someone of their race/ethnicity would never achieve a top position at their companies.

When asked if black professionals need to work harder than their colleagues to advance in their careers, 65% of black employees have recognized the presence of barriers in their advancement, against 16% of white employees. This profound difference in perception highlights the level of unawareness that still exists among white employees.

Because of low representation and slow advancement, black professionals are 30% more likely to intend to leave their companies than their white colleagues.

Furthermore, black people are more likely than any other group to encounter racial prejudice at work, experiencing micro-aggressions at higher rates than all other professionals.

Kennedy finally presented a framework that could help both individuals and companies create a more inclusive environment for black employees:

  • Audit: Understand the current state of black employees. Ask yourself if you have been an active ally. Reflect on your own past behaviour and ask yourself if you have unwillingly engaged in a micro- aggression (e.g. used racially insensitive language, excluded black colleagues from meetings relevant to their jobs, told black colleagues you have friends of their same race/ethnicity)
  • Awaken: Educate yourself. Begin learning and awaken through conversations about race.
  • Act: Call out micro-aggressions. Activate your allyship by leveraging awakening and building solutions.