ADCOLOR Inside: Heavy is the Crown: The State of Women of Color in the Workplace

    By April 20, 2020 | ADCOLOR, Conference, Uncategorized

    By: Kendra Croft


    Yesterday ADCOLOR Inside launched with a powerful panel led by six amazing women of color speaking their truth and dropping some valuable gems to help lighten the load.


    Archana Gilravi, of the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Foundation, opened the panel by priming the audience with data and statistics that paint a clear picture regarding the underrepresentation of women in the workplace.


    “1 in 5 c-suite leaders is a woman. And 1 in 25 is a woman of color.”


    She outlined the challenges we face, whether it be microaggressions, sexual harassment, being the only one in the room, and of course, the pay gap. With our attention peaked and our minds opened, the rest of the panelists took the stage for an honest conversation intended to bring emotion and color to the quantitative data.


    Panel moderator and host of Mixed Company Podcast, Kai Lawson, kicked off the panel by asking the women for one favor, “to be a voice and not an echo.” And each of the women did just that.


    They each brought their authentic perspectives from their varying industries, and below are five key takeaways from the discussion.


    1. The challenge and blessing of being the only


    Too many women of color find themselves being the first, or the only, in a room, an office, a company, or even an industry. Although being the only comes with its fair share of challenges, each of the panelists spoke to how the responsibility they have to future generations keeps them showing up and breaking barriers. Christel Miller, VP of Current Programming at NBC, specifically talked about her first-hand experience of seeing the relief her mere presence can bring to writers of color in a pitch meeting.


    When we are the first or the only, we can turn our challenges into opportunities for someone else.


          2. Alternate routes to resources


    When it comes to getting access to resources, women of color can find themselves having to “get creative” with finding access. Our panelists remind us always to remember to advocate for ourselves and not to be afraid to find new routes to achieve the same goal. When finding new paths to resources, whether it be mentorship our training, you have an opportunity to create change within the company that not only benefits you but those who come after you.


    Advocating for yourself is a form of advocating for others.


           3. We lean different


    Kai pointed out that when it comes to “leaning in,” women of color are often criticized or met with skepticism. Then she asks the panelists to share what leaning in looks like for them. Jovian Zayne, Founder and CEO of On Purpose Movement, broke down a 3- point lean-in system for all of us to follow. Know yourself. Know the Company. Then navigate. In summary, when you’re secure in your own values, you can check how they align within the company values, which will ultimately help you navigate the company or industry.


    “Know what purpose looks like for you in a moment.” – Jovian Zayne


           4. Expressing your authenticity, authentically.


    When we think about the struggle to be your authentic selves in the workplace, we must also think about the atmosphere in which we are trying to be our authentic selves. Because unfortunately, it’s an atmosphere that was never truly intended for us. As Kai put it, “Something that wasn’t meant for us isn’t necessarily broken for us.” So it’s on us to define that authenticity for ourselves and our work environments. Sophia Hernandez, Chief Client Officer at Suzi and Founder of Black on Black BK, reminded us that we are all brands, and it is our responsibility to define that brand for ourselves.


    To not stifle ourselves and our work, we must find where in the system, we can express our authenticity to our benefit.


           5. Accountability, on them or us?


    When discussing accountability for creating change in these disparities, the panelists presented a range of opinions. Some called for us as the change-makers to stop trying to create change alone and to come together to make a difference. While others are calling for leaders to step up and create the change they want to see in their company. In the end, accountability is on all of us. But as we know within any industry, if you want to see massive changes, it has to come from the top and have a systematic impact. Javian called for leaders who “really care about diversity, equity, and inclusion” to challenge the information they are consuming in an effort to raise awareness in their own minds while also uplifting the views of the organization.


    Storm Smith, a producer at BBDO, ended the panel by reminding us of one fundamental fact. “We are not a burden.” Our requests for accessibility is a human right, and we deserve the same access as everyone else. It’s a human right, and it’s our human right.


    For more from this fantastic panel, head over to our ADCOLOR Youtube channel to watch in its entirety.




    ADCOLOR Inside is a series that gives people an inside look into some of the panel discussions from the 2019 ADCOLOR Conference. #TakeAStand


    Learn more about ADCOLOR at http://adcolor.org/


    On Stage:
    Mandy David, (Interpreter)
    Founder, Interpreter, JFD Communications


    Archana Gilravi,
    Vice President, Partnerships, Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation


    Sofia Hernandez,
    Chief Client Officer, Suzy


    Kai Deveraux Lawson,(Moderator)
    Director of Community Engagement, Global Culture, WPP
    Producer & Co-Host, Mixed Company


    Christel Serena Miller,
    Vice President, NBC


    Storm Smith,
    Producer, BBDO


    Jovian Zayne,
    Founder, OnPurpose Movement

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    General Inquiries: info@adcolor.org | 347.297.4407
    ©2024 ADCOLOR Inc. All Rights Reserved.