143: How to Support People of Color at Work with Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo

Diversity, equity and inclusion trainings are unfortunately often aimed at helping white people understand unconscious bias, microaggressions and managing white fragility. While these are important aspects of any company’s DEI journey, it’s important to also attend to the needs and experience of people of color, who have experienced the impact of these.

Today’s guest Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo. Omolara is a physician and success strategist who works with women professionals to rediscover their purpose, prevent burnout, and achieve their vision – without resorting to struggle or sacrifice.

Omolara and I talk about her approach to providing the space and support for people of color to do their own work while us white folks do our needed work.

Omolara has provided access to the replay of her masterclass: How To Have Courageous Conversations. In it, you learn to begin building the confidence to communicate with key stakeholders, foster relationships and get what you need. To get access become a member of The Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.

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Read the related blog article: What Diversity Training Is Getting Wrong: 4 Ways To Help POC At Work


Key Takeaways:

  • “Code switching” is when a person of color feels pressure to change how they naturally communicate in order to make their colleagues feel more comfortable. This causes a great psychological burden.
  • In a large organization, managers can create an employee resource group (an affinity group) for people to speak with people who have a shared experience about vulnerable or sensitive issues.
  • In a small organization, encourage employees to connect with community organizations that gather people from a shared industry, race or gender such as black women in tech.
  • Team diversity discussions and training often focus on discovering what white people have done wrong and improving the awareness, mindset and behavior of white people. While this is important, it’s not enough.
  • Create space for recovery for employees of color who live with the trauma of these issues.
  • POC often spend a lot of energy at work proving they are not negative stereotypes.
  • Set up employees of color with sponsorship and mentorship opportunities to gain support from leaders in their field who can help them feel more comfortable in showing up as themselves.
  • Meet one-on-one with employees of color to share strategies for success. Discuss the mission and vision of the company and how it applies to that individual’s own goals and values. Follow through with a strategy of what they can do to lead to promotions and leadership opportunities that POC don’t often get.
  • If you are a POC managing a mostly white team, be open about how implicit biases about your capabilities as a person of color might affect your colleagues. Demonstrate that you want a workplace with open communication and courageous conversation.

Additional Resources:


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