Carter's Viewpoint: An invitation to dinner is not enough
This text is discussing how people of color want to be included in the decisions that are made about them, not just tokenized with a seat at the table.
Imagine getting an invite to dine at the house of a neighbor. You've heard about them, admired them and are eager to meet them. You've heard the family is well respected and that the husband cooks very well.
You notice the beautiful welcome mat that is on their porch when you arrive. It puts you at ease. After you knock on the front door, and are welcomed in, things change. You realize that the family does not seem very friendly. It is hard to talk with anyone. You never seem to be included in conversations. Sometimes they seem to be listening to you but there is always something distracting them. While you're eating, you notice that everyone else is having filet while you get Spam. You're confused as to why they invited you when you feel like you don't fit in. You take a moment to reflect on your beautiful invitation and welcome mat, but you doubt that you were welcomed in the first instance. Why was I invited to the party? Was it just to check the diversity box?
You may have read this article and thought: 'Wow! Those neighbors are rude!' Before you make a judgment, consider that some organizations unintentionally exclude Black, Brown and other marginalized groups from their workplaces. It is not a lack of talent but rather a homogenous, unwelcoming work culture and environment that makes it difficult to retain or attract diverse talent.
People are happy to be invited to dinner, or work for you, but to retain them, they must feel welcomed. Here are Dr. Clyde W. Pickett's suggestions for making your workplace more inviting:
Listen to Black, Brown and other marginalized members of the community. Invest in the growth of your employees and their professional development.
Black, brown and marginalized communities do not just want to be invited to the table. We want to be heard and involved.