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Webinar Replay: September 2022

09/22/2022

Webinar Replay: “Keeping Women in the Workplace: What Organizations can do to Best Support Them with Equity”

Kanarys wrapped up National Black Business Month with an hour-long webinar that highlighted the journeys of some of America’s business trailblazers, as well as discussion about what this month represents for Black business leaders and women. Guiding the conversation was moderator MyrT’asia Gowan, a 3rd year student at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the Women’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development (WIELD). The featured panelists included Trina Limpert (RizeNext), Zuleemah Edwards (INROADS), and one of Kanarys’ own, Stacey Guillen.

To learn more, read highlights from the webinar below and watch the full webinar here.

As we know, August was Black Business Month. Why is it critical for the business world to acknowledge the different challenges Black business leaders face when compared to their white counterparts?

Trina used this question to reflect on her journey as a founder and the work she has done within DEI. She has been in the tech industry for 30 years and has always felt passionate about looking for equity. As the former Global President of Women in IT, she used that time to expand diversity initiatives within all aspects of the organization.

It was important to her to develop a broader understanding of her privileges as a white woman and the challenges underrepresented folks endured. In order to do so, she listened to what was happening around her in order to create change – even if there was discomfort in this process. Listening and working to understand her underrepresented colleagues made her a better leader to help her team achieve their own goals – and do so in an equitable and accepting environment.

To continue the conversation, Stacey added that when it comes to awareness there needs to be intentionality. The corporate world needs to be purposefully dedicated to creating a support system that welcomes and elevates Black-owned businesses. If we are intentional, it is easier to analyze where issues reside, and it is more feasible to navigate where the structural issues are and how they need to be addressed.

Zuleemah pointed out that even though the Black community is the largest consumer spending group in America, this community is not able to have access to the capital that would improve thriving Black businesses. Awareness of this is key, and more progress in providing access to capital is needed.

Before you were able to climb the ladder to become a leader in your career, did you face inequities as an entry level employee?   

Zuleemah recalled that inequities were not obvious at first. She was able to experience incredible summer internship experiences in college– INROADS helped with that. And in her first position outside of college, she had a great experience as well. It wasn’t until a few years after graduation when she was one of only two women in the department at her firm – and the only person of color. Feeling underrepresented, Zuleemah also experienced the pitfalls of pay inequity when she realized that her colleague who started at the same time as her with less experience was offered a higher salary. Then when the market crashed, she was one of the first to be let go – something that contributed to feelings of being undervalued as an employee.

As a woman, and for Zuleemah and Stacey as women of color, what unique obstacles do you face as leaders?

When she was first given the opportunity to be a leader in her company, Zuleemah was guiding a project as the youngest person on the team. She shared that it was an interesting dynamic – people who were once her colleagues were now supposed to follow her lead. While she was a person of color, Zuleemah felt that it was more of a test to her emotional intelligence as a young person in this environment rather than having to do with her skin color.

Stacey’s perspective shared unique obstacles that she feels as a Latina. Representation of Latinx women at the corporate board and Fortune 500 company level is severely lacking. Stacey said that this creates a sense of invisibility. She knows that there are women who are making headway in representation, but it is sometimes hard to find those trailblazers. So, she decided to turn those instances into opportunities. As the only one in the room sometimes – how can she use that to coach others who may see her as a leader?  

What do you know about the ‘Glass Cliff’ phenomenon and the idea that women are often promoted in companies during times of crisis, or when the company is undergoing a recession, or when there is a higher likelihood of failure? What is your take on this?  
Stacey’s take is that the “Glass Cliff” is a trap of promoting or hiring a woman when there is no chance of success. One way for companies to prevent this from negatively affecting women is recognizing that it is happening. But, Stacey says, how can we detect this is happening? Now that is the million-dollar question that no one has a solid answer to yet.

The first step to avoiding this phenomenon is to deeply understand what the proposed challenge is within the organization during the job search process. If we know exactly what the company is asking for, we can better understand our intentions – saving us from falling into the trap. And for those who are determined to take the challenge, creating a supportive ecosystem for yourself and being transparent about what you see happening in the company and what tools you need in order to succeed are crucial steps.

For Trina, this webinar was her first time hearing the term. Looking back on the times that she was put into such a position; she realized that people should be results-focused to prevent this. Instead of talking about the tasks – what are the results, timelines, and expectations? What does success look like in this company? Once the company outlines what they want to see to consider you successful, it is harder for them to backtrack in the future.

Zuleemah pointed out that there was an influx of women coming into leadership positions during the pandemic. Often, women are used to coming in and fixing things by any means necessary. Hence their addition to leadership roles during the height of COVID-19. When that does happen, and women are promoted during times of crisis, make sure that the goals of the company and the goals that you want for yourself are being eloquently outlined.

To learn more about Trina, Zuleemah and Stacy’s experiences in the workforce and how they conduct themselves as leaders, watch the full video now!

Kanarys is Your DEI Champion

At Kanarys, we are the diversity, equity, and inclusion people with the data-driven approach. Since 2018, Kanarys has aimed to change the world by creating equitable workplaces where everyone belongs. We guide your organization’s DEI path every step of the way with courage and collaboration. It starts with data, analytics and insights, and continues with recommendations and implementation. 

Our mission, as your partner and champion in the ever-evolving DEI journey: Help you understand what it takes to foster lasting, systemic change today and for tomorrow. Because when you succeed with DEI, your employees can thrive—and so can your organization.

 


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