Advice for success in business from SWBC’s black leaders

Tyreo Harrison has built his career on proving something—to himself. As a former professional athlete turned Executive Vice President, he has always worked hard to ensure he is perceived—on and off the field—as above average. “This mission was especially important to me as a young black man growing up in the south,” says Harrison. “As a young black athlete, it seemed more was expected of me on the field, but those same high expectations didn’t necessarily transcend to the classroom, and even in my youth, I knew that wasn’t okay.”

Be Intentional with How You Stand Out

The disparity between the number of black and white leaders in the corporate world is no secret. According to SHRM, black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, but only 8% of employees in professional roles, and a staggeringly small 3.2% of executive and senior leadership roles. Statistics like these can be sobering and shed light on something that is out-of-sight-out-of-mind for many people, but when your work-life reality is being the only person of color in the room, it’s not all that surprising.

“As a black leader in a predominately white workplace, you will stand out,” says Cordell Dixon, Training Design and Development Specialist for SWBC. Dixon provides sound advice for black professionals that find themselves feeling uncomfortable or insecure. “Make the reasons you stand out be for things that are intentional and under your control. Trust your ability to make decisions so you’re known for being confident. Look for opportunities to be kind and share your expertise so that empathy and generosity are associated with your name. Know your worth so that others believe in your value,” says Dixon.


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