While attending a conference or book presentation a couple of years ago, a person of a certain age (not to say an ‘old’ man) engaged a conversation. He told me the following: « my father said to me; if you want to be free, don’t work for someone else ».
So, I asked him « which understanding have you taken from this? » because he did not share more insights to that story.
His reaction? The typical for someone from Congo in that generation: « Son, it took me 50 years to understand what my father meant. Up to you now, go on that quest ».
Yesterday, I bumped into a friend who shared his excitement for Marvel and Black Panther. I have not watched the movie and I heard the buzz about ‘Wakanda’. It will be good if it translates to upgrading the minds and stereotypes from certain people and friends who told me things like: « Blacks don’t want other blacks to succeed », « when I am working with white folks, I am always on time to meetings but in associations with blacks, I am more relax and coming late », etc.
On the other hand of the spectrum, friends in different industries also told me: « I feel lonely in my field », « If I had to do it again, I will make sure not to stay alone », « 90% of my clients are whites, blacks don’t trust other blacks », « I need a space where I could be vulnerable and share my project, my goals, receive feedback, information from others without fear of being stabbed in the back », etc.
I have shared with some friends who left Belgium to do business in Congo and other parts of Africa, alone, with their personal network only… One key mistake is to ignore the fact that they will face / faced copycats there and compete against established networks (local and international).
If you are at a place where you feel like isolated and in need of a space where you could rely on others, let’s talk. Hit me with a message, share where you are and where you want to go.
As mentioned by the gentleman in the video below…
« Unfortunately in the white corporate world as we know it today, there is a ceiling on how far blacks can go. There are rare exceptions but by and large, the vice presidency is as far as you can go. Now there some of us we are not just temporarily suited to be only Vice Presidents. We want to be presidents. We want to run things, to be in charge. For those people I say , you’ve got to go out and start your own« .
Video: John Johnson
It’s about personal development.
It’s about opportunity and business development.
it’s about legacy.
« You are not alone ».
Grégory Luaba Déome
Contributing to more inclusive workplaces
More from me on Ethnostratification and Talent Advancement:
Born in Congo, I am committed to developing more inclusive workplaces. My passion is to enable others to achieve their potential and to advance equity in corporate Brussels.
About eight years ago, a friend told me something like « in my company, they consider me as a high potential. I participated to the annual event of our industry, 500 people – la crème de la crème – and I was the only non-white in the room. A journalist even came to me and discreetly asked « what about upward mobility »? The problem is that in our industry, the majority of the workers at the bottom of the pyramid are non-whites. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the whiter it becomes. »
How to increase racial diversity at the top of corporate Brussels?
What is the diverse makeup or diversity demographics of your team overall? And of your management and board teams?