Rotman Management Magazine

The Delusions Holding Women of Colour Back


DELUSION 1: ‘We can’t find you!’

The idea that the pipeline is broken is a myth. White recruiters and HR leaders will also have significan­tly white networks, which therefore cultivates a white pipeline.

DELUSION 2: ‘Just be yourself.’

One of the biggest delusions is that the corporate world doesn’t require us to conform and assimilate to be successful. By working to fit into existing power structures and establishm­ents, we lose a lot of what makes us who we are.

DELUSION 3: ‘Just wait.’

We have to let go of the fairy tale of “one day” and realize that no matter what stage we are at in our careers, each action to conform is actually a decision we make, even if it might not feel like it in the moment.

DELUSION 4: ‘I don’t see colour.’

The idea that big corporatio­ns are a meritocrac­y is a setup. The truth is, your hard work alone will not get you through.

DELUSION 5: ‘Please share your thoughts.’

Most managers and executives don’t really want you to say anything unless it’s positive. If what you say causes a ripple, that makes you the problem, not the company’s outdated ways of working.

DELUSION 6: ‘That’s too political.’

There is a belief that we can fix inclusion without talking about the hard stuff and making people uncomforta­ble. The truth is, we need to alter and shock company cultures in new and uncomforta­ble ways if we want our workplaces to reflect the change we are trying to make.

DELUSION 7: ‘Diversity, equity and inclusion will fix everything.’

These days, inclusion is stated as a company priority and a CEO and board agenda item, but unfortunat­ely, it’s still just lip service within many companies.

DELUSION 8: ‘Kill or be killed.’

The definition of power can often mean being aggressive, and having power over others in corporate settings. The idea that power must be seen this way is a delusion, and the idea that this type of power should be rewarded is an even bigger delusion.

DELUSION 9: ‘Capitalism trumps all.’

We talk about capitalism without talking about power. And as the global pandemic has shown us, significan­t challenges around power have been created and exacerbate­d by capitalism.

DELUSION 10: ‘You got white-manned.’

This is the most important delusion to eradicate. When you are accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression. We can’t have white men believing they will lose something as we rise. The pie doesn’t just have to be redistribu­ted—it can always grow.

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