This month I thought I would do a short list of ways Black leaders can be better together by showing Pride year-round. I’ve written before about my journey to unpack the biases I grew up with coming from a deeply religious Black family. In that post, I wrote about some things I learned on my journey to be a more inclusive leader. As my world expanded, through education and travel, I began to understand the importance of difference. Being in community with people who are different deepened my leadership. And, I’m grateful to be in spaces that allow me to continue to learn and unlearn.
5 Ways to be Better Together
These top tips helped me on my journey and I hope you find them useful as well.
- Everything doesn’t have to be a lesson. LBGTQ folks don’t always feel safe being ‘out at work’ so drawing unnecessary attention to team members can cause harm. Being kind is being inclusive.
- Model inclusion in your leadership. Don’t just recruit Black folks who act, think, and have the same background as you. Be intentional about recruiting diverse talent. That means your job description needs to state explicitly how you value diversity. You can clearly state things like how your benefits packages offer coverage for all types of families or highlight certain benefits that LGBTQ candidates might find attractive (i.e. access to IVF for all genders, gender-affirming hormone therapy, etc.)
- The best way to keep people safe is to not tokenize them. If your team has ONE person of a different lived experience, that can be isolating and harmful. See bullet 2 on how to start to address this.
- Stop checking boxes. I know this can get tricky. Working toward becoming an inclusive space cannot be a box-checking activity. It has to be a mindful process that includes recruiting, retaining, and promoting staff LGBTQ staff. Provide opportunities (many and often) for staff to give input on what would make your team/organization an inclusive place for them.
- Be approachable. One way to do this is by redefining what professionalism means. As a leader, you can take some of the pressure to perform off of your staff. In valuing your staff’s lived experiences, you create the psychological safety needed for LGBTQ folks and those of other identities to bring their best energy and ideas to work.
I hope these are helpful to you. I love to see Black leaders grow in their understanding of Black folks who may have a different identity or life experience. We cannot get into positions of power and then perpetuate the same bias and harm. If we can remember that we are better together, we can invest in doing the work necessary to make inclusion a leadership strength.
Black LGBTQ History
Since it is Pride Month I’ll let you with a few resources for those who want to go further in their learning journey.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black Trans Woman who was living in New York City helped spark a movement at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. Marsh may not have been considered a leader but that’s exactly what she was! Pride Month is an opportunity to remember what happened at Stonewall, honor leaders like Marsha and others, and continue the work left to achieve equity for LGBTQ folx.
Commit to learning more about Marsha and being inspired by her leadership.
- Happy Birthday, Marsha! (documentary) – http://www.happybirthdaymarsha.com/
- Pay It No Mind – The Life and Times of Martha P. Johnson (documentary) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjN9W2KstqE
- The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson – https://www.netflix.com/title/80189623
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