190: Black Talent Matters: Why Diversity and Inclusion is a Struggle in Corporate America

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According to a 2020 report by MarketWatch, only 3.7% of Google workers were Black, less than 4% at Facebook, and 7.5% at Uber. The primary argument behind this heartbreaking statistic is the notion among corporate executives that finding capable Black talent is a challenge. It’s not clear whether they even looked at all, they didn’t know where to look, or that they didn’t look hard enough. All we know is that some things need to change. 

Furthermore, when it comes to promoting Black leaders, the process is often reactive and not intentional. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement left shareholders rushing to promote long-serving Black employees based primarily on societal pressure. Unfortunately, this approach often causes problems when society demands a sense of urgency and the organization settles for an unqualified candidate. Yes, Black talent matters, but it should be the right talent at the right time and for the right reasons.

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matters – 05:17

Even before the #BLM movement became a thing, we intuitively knew that diversity and inclusion matter. It’s also clear that it makes sense, purely in business terms, to have a diverse team. Unfortunately, most organizations believe diversity and inclusion is as simple as changing policies, programs, and increasing headcounts. Yet, it’s far more than that. Anastasia believes that organizations should not start their diversity and inclusion journey simply because everyone’s doing it. Every organization is different, and the generic strategies that companies are trying to implement won’t necessarily bear the intended fruits. Instead, leaders should try and make every team member, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they do for the business, feel equally involved and supported within the organization.

Anastasia’s Journey Into Entrepreneurship – 12:45

It’s a well-known fact that employees are more likely to leave an organization when they don’t find people who look like them. However, as Black people with fewer opportunities in the corporate world, sometimes leaving is never an option. They feel marginalized, are often overlooked for promotions, and feel pressured to work harder to prove themselves. Anastasia faced the same things. As a first-gen Black employee in corporate America, she was a pioneer in almost every single field she got involved in. The pressure to work harder than her peers made her question whether employment was the right path for her. She already possessed the entrepreneurial spirit, but it took some guts and thorough preparation to eventually make the leap. 

How to Prepare Yourself for Entrepreneurship – 19:25

Making the leap into entrepreneurship is never an easy decision to make. But successfully launching a business essentially requires three things: the leap of faith, reasoned analysis, and thorough preparation. Unfortunately, most people never consider the preparation part of getting into entrepreneurship. They just launch a business in their excitement without preparing for the ups and downs of the first few months. If you get started without thinking through what you are going to do, how you are going to make money, or how you will finance it, your chances for survival, let alone success, are very slim. 

Therefore, before you even think about starting a business, set aside some money for when tough times come knocking. According to Anastasia, the second thing you need is a business coach. She believes that the truly successful entrepreneurs are the ones that have people who keep them accountable, help them improve their business, and guide them through the potential pitfalls along the way. 

Why You Need to Invest in Yourself – 22:10

It’s no secret, investing in yourself boasts one of the best returns on investments anyone can ever have. However, investing in yourself is more than just getting that second degree or acquiring stocks and bonds. Anastasia defines self-investment as making the conscious decision to take care of your health, career, financial and mental wellbeing. Simply put, you need to pour into yourself first before you can give to others. This sometimes means stepping back when you feel overwhelmed, setting boundaries, or taking a break when things become overwhelming. Remember, the effort and amount of time you dedicate to consistently investing in yourself often determines the quality of life you’ll live now and in the future.

And if you’re stuck in a cycle of self-criticism or have unrealistic expectations of yourself, be gentle with yourself. You can’t always be there for everyone, and you definitely cannot guarantee success all the time. So, always remember, you don’t need to win every day to give yourself credit. Just celebrate the small things, manage your expectations, and keep moving.

Anastasia Boone Talton is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Meraki Human Resource Consulting LLC. based in Alpharetta, Georgia. Anastasia is a graduate of Fort Valley State University, a Historically Black College and University located in Fort Valley, Georgia, where she serves as a Lifetime Alumni Member. Anastasia earned her MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Strayer University where she graduated with honors. She has also studied Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a focus on Organizational Diversity and Social Change from Walden University. Anastasia’s educational background and passion for Diversity and Inclusion has earned her recognition by several non-profits and for-profit organizations. Connect with Anastasia Boone Talton through LinkedIn.