Seven years ago I walked away from my last corporate job.
I'd spent far too long in industries – and organizations – that did not welcome me. Everyday I asked myself: What was wrong with me? Was I not tough enough? Did I just not have what it takes to succeed?
I was always a confident person (the harmful “submissive model minority” myth did not apply to me and, come to think of it, most people I know!) but over years in those unwelcoming environments I felt my confidence… and eventually my soul… being chipped away.
My experience awakened a passion — no, an obsession — to get to the bottom of what really holds women back in the workplace.
We can build inclusive workplaces with women of color at their center. I know it is possible.
So what's the problem? Well, too much of the existing narrative focuses on “fixing women”—getting more women to negotiate, demand, and “lean in." But “leaning in” barely works for white women. For women of color, it’s actually harmful. When corporate structures are inherently biased, telling women to “lean in” doesn’t solve anything.
What holds women back are biased, exclusionary workplaces, not a lack of confidence, leaning in or imposter syndrome. (I recently debunked the myth of women’s imposter syndrome in this Harvard Business Review article with Jodi-Ann Burey.)
I’ve spent the seven years since I quit exploring what really works to create organizations where women of color and employees with other historically marginalized identities can thrive.
I’ve interviewed countless leaders, experts and really smart people about the solutions that are working (or when those aren't available, at least how to think about these problems).
That’s why I’m excited to tell you about what’s coming next: the Inclusion is Leadership series. Starting this month, I’ll write to you weekly about powerful, research-based interventions to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces.
I’m sharing this series because the information exists and I believe it should be freely available. I don’t want to hear, “I want to do better but I don’t know how.” Start here. Start small. Start now.
We’re in a pivotal moment. We’re already reimagining our workplaces and have a unique opportunity to learn from the carnage of the past year.
Let’s build intersectional, inclusive workplaces where everyone can win together.
Inclusion is leadership.
Do you agree?