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To Promote Inclusivity, Stay Away from Personality Assessments

Quinisha Jackson-Wright

08/25/2019

My first experience taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (M.B.T.I.) was at a job where it was mandatory. The company’s chief executive announced that all employees would take the test as part of a quarterly staff retreat.

The assessment concluded that I was an I.N.T.J. (Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment.) At the retreat, we were all encouraged to share our results with one another as we participated in various team-building activities. I reluctantly revealed mine, as I wondered how this detailed profile of my personality traits and communication style would translate to my colleagues. Not only was I the sole black woman in the organization, a demographic notoriously misunderstood in the workplace, I now had the additional strike of being outed as an introvert, in the company of extroverts.

Introverts have long been marginalized in professional environments. In American office culture, where break room small talk, brainstorming meetings and open office layouts are all commonplace, there seems to be little tolerance for the solitary nature of the typical introvert.

Female introverts in the workplace seem to be at an even greater disadvantage. The percentage of female chief executives at S&P 500 companies is only 5 percent, according to Catalyst, a research firm that studies women in the workplace. On top of this, the image most people have — including hiring managers— of a successful leader is that of a charasmatic extrovert. Add in the fact that there are only three black C.E.O.s at Fortune 500 companies, and if you are an introverted black woman like myself, you face a laborious climb up the corporate ladder.

    Gender Equity/Diversity
    Racial Equity/Diversity

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