What Does Being a Black Man in the Workplace Feel Like?

by: Nicholas Zikpi

Have you had co-workers randomly speak slang to you because they assume you’ll understand?

Or had senior members of staff making inappropriate jokes based on stereotypes?

Maybe you’ve been made to feel as if you do not belong to the group.

Or haven’t seen a single person of colour holding any position of authority in your organisation.

For me, these are just the tips of the iceberg of what I have experienced in my career. These experiences, from micro-aggressions to overt racism – can have a real impact on one’s state of mind. The longer I was subjected to these things, the worse my performance at work became. Having battled for 2 years to overcome these challenges, I can personally attest to the importance of an inclusive atmosphere and having relatable people to look up to.

Having found a new home in Diversio, I’ve seen and felt what it’s like to work in a genuinely inclusive and diverse company. From having lunch with our CEO in my first week, to consistently being given a vote of confidence from senior members of staff who openly display a genuine desire to see me develop and progress in my role.

For me, this provides the perfect platform for success and has given me an increased drive to go above and beyond in order to succeed in my role.

Over the last 12-24 months in particular, there has been a very intentional shift to pay close attention to diversity and inclusion in workplaces. Although this is refreshing, I’ve learnt that a lot of organisations say they are improving “D&I” yet conveniently forget the “I”. Inclusion is of equal importance as diversity, if not more, and yet does not get anywhere near the same amount of recognition. A reason for this may be that businesses and organisations have no definitive way of defining inclusion and therefore struggle to measure it.

My hope is that organisations will recognize the significance of inclusion because without it, it is truly impossible to sustain a diverse workplace. Comparing my work environment from 2 years ago to now, and what I’ve gone through, I feel a small sense of relief because it shows that there is progress being made towards diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces —even though it may be slow-moving. It is an indescribable feeling knowing that I have allies in my workplace and that my voice will always be heard, and I hope that all people will be able to one day receive that same recognition at their work.

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What Does Being a Black Man in the Workplace Feel Like?

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