Finding the Courage to Speak Up: Race in the Workplace

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This is the fourth episode of the Voices of Energy’s limited series, Race in the Workplace. This series compiles the insights of several black energy professionals from our conversations with them during the Summer of 2020. Amy Deaton, emcee of this series, has categorized these insights into several themes around race in our workplaces. This episode focuses on the effectiveness of speaking out against injustice and the courage it takes to do so.

Bridging the gap. (01:28)

Gaurdie Banister Jr., former CEO of Aera Energy, describes how it is irresponsible and uncaring as a leader to walk past an unsafe act and not do something. He then connects this to the topic at hand: it would be irresponsible to not speak up about racist acts in the workplace and we have to muster the energy and courage it takes to do something. Speaking directly to black (or otherwise marginalized) individuals, he exhorts them to do the tough work of examining and being secure in who they are and what they want for themselves, then to act on it. Gaurdie encourages them to find a support center to stay grounded, get over the inertia to take a stand, and find an ally. He then addresses white individuals to be on the lookout for like minded people to help bridge the gap between races.

Defying the stereotypes of black women. (05:47)

Amy then discusses the inertia of taking a stand for black women in the workplace. Carolyn Green, one of four authors of The Energy Within Us and managing partner at Evergreen Capital Management, shares how critical it is for black women to take a stand for themselves. She shares that they have to get over the stereotype of being too strong, too impatient, or too ambitious. She empowers black women to own their own destiny and not to be held back by people’s perception of them. Carolyn discusses the importance of supporting one another in navigating careers driven by ambition.

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Taking a risk. (08:37)

Amy concludes that the women who wrote The Energy Within Us are trailblazers, but not without risk and hard work. Another of the authors from the The Energy Within Us, Rose McKinney-James, closes out the episode by emphasizing the need for people who are enlightened to be willing to take steps to address injustices.

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