By Marion Mann, Marketing and Communications Director, Greenville Chamber
The Greenville Chamber’s annual ACE Leadership Symposium advocates for the advancement of multicultural leadership through intentional efforts to ensure the success of diverse individuals, so they may lead and contribute to the success of organizations and communities.
Marcus Shaw is senior director of business development for Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). MLT equips and emboldens high-achieving women and men from underrepresented communities to realize their full potential and to make a mark and a difference. Their vision is for a world where inequality is no more, where people of color realize their full potential, and where diverse leadership is no longer “underrepresented.”
According to MLT, “There is a stark racial disparity when it comes to leadership in America. Only 3 percent of senior leadership in the U.S. is black, Latino, or Native American. This disparity, combined with other troubling racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic gaps, undermines employment, advancement, and prosperity in a nation that is fast becoming ‘majority minority.’”
Shaw’s mother was a teacher, and his father spent 28 years in the U.S. Navy, then more than 20 years in the Library of Congress. He worked as an engineer and then in banking as a highly successful stock analyst until life experiences made him realize that work didn’t truly matter to him and it was time to think critically about his path and his ability to impact.
Some takeaways from his presentation:
It is impossible to be your best self if you question your sense of belonging.
If people are not comfortable in their surroundings, they will not operate to their highest potential. When leaders of organizations foster a sense of belonging, they get action and results. And further, when they provide a sense of being valued, productivity abounds.
ON SUPPORT & UNDERSTANDING
Shaw noted that much like an athlete whose talent is only fully optimized in the right system with the right coach, professionals also require a clear understanding of what it takes to be successful in an environment and have someone to help them get there. In order to maximize potential, we must understand our detractors and constraints, expand our networks, and have clarity about what the bar for success looks like.
Reflective leadership is one of the most important things you can practice. You need to understand how people see you, listen actively, and learn how to take and give feedback in order to build trust and credibility. A sense of empathy and humility is critical to leading effectively.
Shaw encouraged intentionality in diversity and inclusion efforts. Once the decision is made to be intentional about these efforts, you can:
- Build critical mass: Ensure there is a pipeline of diverse people trained and ready with a similar vision to succeed you and others in leadership positions.
- Strategic rigor: Commit to addressing human capital in diversity and inclusion with the same rigor as that which you develop, innovate, and market your products and services.
- Promote high performers: Advance the best people and put them on the best teams so they can become leaders, and keep on doing it.
- Results and accountability: Compensation for leaders and managers needs to be tied to the success and failure of diversity and inclusion efforts.
INCLUSION IS A NECESSITY FOR DOING BUSINESS
If you’re a business not thinking forward to 2040, you’re already behind.
America is currently made up of 30 percent underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans) and slated to be over 50 percent by 2040. If you are a leader selling any kind of widget of any kind to any consumer in this country and you are not intentionally focusing on diversity, you will not be successful.