Leveraging Our Black Voice at Work

A NEW DAY IN OUR COMPANIES For some blacks in corporate America, being an activist has not exactly been a part of our strategy to…


For some blacks in corporate America, being an activist has not exactly been a part of our strategy to climb the corporate ladder. We have been very aware and connected to the injustices blacks face in this country, and perhaps involved with fighting them outside of work, but have not made racism a part of our daily conversation track with our non-black colleagues in the office.

Instead, we’ve become really good at choosing our topics carefully. We’ve developed our cultural competence to the point where we’ve mastered keeping other races (particularly white) comfortable around us. It has been the only way to survive in most environments, let alone succeed.

But this day is different. Many of us are now being ‘handed the mic’ by our white counterparts who have grown to trust and respect us. They are pulling up a seat in the audience with abated ears, asking us to help them understand the struggle and what they can do to help. Now what do we say?


First we tell our truth. Our truth about what we’ve experienced in this country and how it makes us feel. That truth will vary from person to person — which is good, because it means they will hear multiple versions of the same story.

After telling our truth, we shift to solutions. The first set of solutions are around changes to the systemic inequities that exist for blacks in many organizations. Pay equity, and inclusive policies for hiring, promotions, and job assignments are good places to start. Of course, the list grows from there. And if there is a specific issue you have dealt with, now is a great time address it.

The second set of solutions is where we really get our chance to shine. We show that we are strategic leaders who know how to bring our unique perspective into any situation and add value. 

Here are few examples of statements that can be used:

Example 1 – Corporate Social Responsibility

You know, one non-profit organization I’m aware of that maybe you haven’t heard of is _________. I think we should really consider supporting them. I’ve seen they are doing great work with _______ and really align with our company mission to _________. Do you mind if I reach out to __________ to see if there is interest?

Example 2 – Suppliers

I’ve done some research on suppliers that provide _______ and found this really great small black-owned business called _______. I know our small business goals include _______, so this could be a great fit for us. Is it ok if I call _________ to have them look into it?

Example 3 – Internal Innovations

I have an idea to ______. I’ve done the research and it looks like it will cost $_______. I calculate that it has a ____% chance of saving/earning the company $______, so the return on investment is _____%. I’ll need to get _____, ______, and ______ involved to execute the project. Ok if I proceed?

As black professionals we have always had the opportunity to lead but now more than ever the opportunity and need is there for us to make our greatest impact. This is your time to shine. Your growth will always be rooted in your ability to solve problems and add value in whatever environment you are in. Take this opportunity to really demonstrate yours.


These examples represent the mindset and behaviors of an Intrapreneur. An Intrapreneur is someone who brings an entrepreneurial approach to their job by aligning their own personal passions and strengths to grow at an accelerated pace. If you would like to learn more about becoming an Intrapreneur, please join me this Friday at 11:30am EST for a free webinar.

By Andre W. Thornton

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments, opinions on this website are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of M-Lifestyle and their affiliates. M-Lifestyle does not claim ownership of any images used, unless otherwise specified.




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