By Carla Walker-Miller
About a year ago, during a conversation on equity, I heard an important word of guidance: “Do not speak for people you do not speak to.” Though simple, it is key to helping individuals from underrepresented communities thrive in business.
Though 99% of businesses in the country are small businesses, the agendas of cities and states are heavily influenced by big businesses, politicians, and the powerful government and nonprofit boards on which wealthy executives sit.
Far too many plans that impact underrepresented communities are made by good, well-meaning people who have little real-world experience to inform their beliefs. “The Power of &” holds the promise of transformational change.
“The Power of &” means that historically excluded communities will thrive when leaders make permanent seats at all tables for them to speak for themselves. They will thrive when they are represented in all business discussions at the ideation stage, the planning table, at the meetings before the meeting, and the meetings after the meeting. We will all thrive when we are included at the beginning of the deal flow, and not relegated to waiting for a hastily inserted diversity program at the end of the deal flow.
As some of the most powerful leaders to converge upon Mackinac Island, I hope some will ask themselves “Who am I speaking for that I don’t speak to?” I pray they have the courage to invite them in. Permanently.