Many employers made dramatic commitments after the murder of George Floyd last year about making their workplaces (and leadership teams) more equitable. Despite this, most of the tech industry, which built its reputation on speed, scale, and innovation, is falling short—and it’s because of fear.
Fear of open conflict is destroying workplaces, and it’s disproportionately harming Black and Latinx women workers. It is limiting any possibility for the 21st-century workforce to reflect the demographics of this country. But it’s possible to lead in a different way.
We want to take you through a few aspects of our working relationship, as leaders of the nonprofit Code2040, which is committed to proportional representation of Black and Latinx people at all levels of tech leadership. Our partnership is based on a mutual commitment to eradicating the ways that fear of conflict and systemic racism maintain white, male dominance in the vast majority of workplaces. As a Latinx woman manager (Karla), and a Black woman direct report (Mimi), we saw our working relationship as racial equity leaders in tech as a unique opportunity to unpack, unlearn, and redesign relational systems that didn’t serve us.
In the years that we‘ve worked together at Code2040, we cultivated a relationship based in candor and feedback, which allowed us to unearth the variety of ways we were socially, professionally, and economically discouraged from bringing the full breadth of our talents to our work. We noticed that the obstacles to our leadership within and outside of Code2040 fell into a few similar categories, and we began communicating with other women of color in tech and at non-profits, to further develop our hypotheses. It was in those conversations we understood that not only were we not alone. We were all in the same compression chamber, and it was sucking the oxygen out of our capacity to lead.