If you could change the world, would you?
We all want to live in a better world, but it often feels like we lack the power to make a difference. If we are to do anything, we must first accept that we can’t fix everything. Once we accept that, we feel less daunted by the scale of what we hope to achieve.
As this Black History Month comes to an end, we want to acknowledge and reflect on the achievements of all black professionals in leadership. Society is transformed by individuals who understand that they have the power to change unjust systems.
An example of an individual that understood this is Cynthia Marshall. Cynthia Marshall, the first black woman CEO in the NBA, launched Mavs Take Action in June 2020 to combat systemic inequities after the killing of George Floyd. Marshall was hired by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, to clean up its workplace culture after investigations revealed over 20 years of sexual harassment and misconduct. Mavs Take Action is a commitment to change through employee volunteer hours and a $5M donation to support local communities through education, scholarships, mentorship, and public policy programs. Marshall’s mission is to mentor others and help others to mentor black professionals, so there is a future for a second, third, fourth, and fifth black female CEO in the NBA. (Click here to learn about other Black leaders like Marshall.)
Individuals like Marshall dared to overcome resistance and obstacles and were inspired to make that essential first step towards change. That’s why we expanded Parity.org’s focus to include People of Color in 2020. We saw wide gaps in representation, equality, and inclusion in corporate leadership and made it our mission to help close them.
Today, black professionals hold less than 1% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions. The barriers to entry and advancement are numerous, and the challenge to overcome them becomes that they often go unseen; rather, they are felt. While more companies than ever know that diversity is a key business performance indicator, many are unsure of where to start. We have developed The Parity Model to help companies understand where these silent barriers exist and how to achieve their diversity goals moving forward. The Parity Model serves as a roadmap for companies to challenge their current practices and develop unbiased internal practices to build a more balanced pipeline. By embracing this model, a new, better corporate culture can emerge. Our three foundational pillars: representation, equality, and inclusion, will help organizations reach racial and gender parity, and our eight enablers will be the key to helping you sustain it.
Changing the world is work that never ends.
It requires keen awareness and attentiveness to seeing what’s in front of you, a willingness to share in its responsibility, and a pathological belief in making hope possible for everyone. Individuals engaged in this work try to look to the positive, find resources that others may have overlooked, and discover supporters in unexpected places. They focus on the long term but always think about how to take small actions now.