In a Ted Talk video featured at the launch of the Dallas chapter of B.O.L.D. (Blacks Organized for Leadership Development), Verna Myers said,
“We can’t just decide not to see color. The problem was never that we saw color; it’s what we did when we saw color.” She went on to say, “While we’re busy pretending not to see, we are not being aware of the ways in which racial difference is changing people’s possibilities.”
I think we’d all like to believe we’re color-blind when it comes to racial diversity, but unfortunately, we’ve got a long way to go toward making equality the rule rather than the exception.
I’ll admit, I was hesitant to attend the launch. I wasn’t sure if I’d be welcome, but I decided that I would “lean into my discomfort” and go. Racial equality and civil rights are causes I am passionate about, and I’ve been looking for a way to make a difference. . . Besides, they were serving lunch, and a girl’s gotta eat!
I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a diverse group of people at the meeting. It was encouraging to see so many advocates devoted to affecting change within our company through the B.O.L.D. initiative.
We are fortunate to work for a company that puts great emphasis on diversity and inclusion and encourages us to “share our street corners” in an effort to better understand each other and our differing points of view. Admittedly, this is sometimes easier said than done. Each of us wonders if we’ll be judged or looked at differently.
But what differentiates Celanese from other companies, is that when it comes to company culture, we put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. Not only are we encouraged to share our street corners, but we are encouraged to “lean in” when others share their own street corners.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide safe spaces for employees to feel valued and included. Executive sponsors demonstrate the company’s genuine support and interest in the issues that employees face daily – in the workplace and at home. Scott Sutton, Executive Sponsor for B.O.L.D., said,
“Initiatives like this define who we are as a company. They allow us to deliver diverse and differentiated value, and that’s what we’re all about. . . It’s time to have that conversation.”
Jackie Hall, Chairperson of B.O.L.D., outlined the goals and strategies B.O.L.D. is committed to:
- Creating a cultural shift to facilitate employee engagement
- Developing (a) a professional pipeline within the company in order to advance and retain black employees and (b) an external pipeline to attract talented black candidates
- Participating in community outreach and volunteerism
- Maintaining personal wellness, including health and financial well-being
Germaine Gaspard, founder of Good Life Living Group, facilitated the conversation, challenging us all to evaluate our group of friends and colleagues and make an effort to reach out to those different from us – even if it’s awkward. In other words, set aside our cultural and racial biases and “lean into discomfort.”
“Biases are the stories we make up about people before we know who they actually are. But how are we going to learn who they are, when we’ve been told to avoid and be afraid of them? It’s not about perfection; it’s about connection.” Verna Myers
I’m excited to be an advocate for B.O.L.D. and a part of a company that not only supports this initiative but allocates company time and resources to make it a success. I look forward to being not only a member, but a contributor to the goals that B.O.L.D. seeks to accomplish.
To learn more about B.O.L.D., contact Jackie Hall at Jacqueline.Hall@celanese.com.