The Journey of Black Resistance

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So what is Black resistance exactly? Well, we like to think of it as a powerful force. These days companies are realizing that having a diverse workforce goes beyond benefiting the employees — it actually fuels success and sparks innovation. Black resistance is one factor driving this shift that recognizes the value of a diverse forward-thinking workplace. In this article, we will delve into what Black resistance actually looks like in the workplace. 

From relationship capital, preparedness, how to advance to bringing a seat to the table, get ready to discover insights from Cisco’s Aleta Howell and Kanyatta Walker shared at our BYP Leadership Summit 2023 in Atlanta that will help lead the way.

Building Relationship Capital

If there is one thing you need to champion when pushing diversity, it is relationships. Building relationship capital is imperative for career advancement. You have to push past your fears and network.

Kanyatta touched on how not networking held her back. “I stayed a manager probably way longer than I probably should have because I didn’t understand the power of networking.. because it was considered brown-nosing and you know, like I don’t have time. Im going to work, do my job.” She then volunteered at the Women in Technology G, and intentionally got her MBA at Emory where they stressed having a network. That intentionality lead her to be sponsored and receive invaluable support and guidance throughout her career. 

Proactively engaging with colleagues, mentors, and industry professionals have the power to expand your network, in turn unveiling new opportunities. You can easily build your capital by actively participating in professional organizations and attending industry events.

Preparedness: Stay Ready, So You Don’t Have to Get Ready

This brings us to our next topic. As Suga Free once said, “ You have to stay ready, so you don’t have to  get ready.” To stay ready, you have to prioritize continuous growth and learning. You can do this by going back to school or participating in continued education courses, attending workshops relevant to your trajectory, and staying updated on industry trends and developments. 

You can also, like Kanyatta, volunteer for projects close to your cause and take on new responsibilities within your current role. This will keep you prepared for opportunities that may come your way. It’s important to be adaptable and willing to embrace change and experiences that broaden your skill sets.

Advancing in Your Career

Your unique experiences and perspectives are needed at the table. Asserting your diverse voice will only benefit the organization you work for. Advancing in your career can seem a little tricky, especially when leading with Black resistance, but you have to remember that despite it all, you are limitless.

Kanyatta said, “Behind me, in my office I have this whole picture of Limitless… so I’m a big fan of if you want to make a career change if you want to do anything you got to live life limitlessly…You got to go after it but be thoughtful. Talk to people who have made the pivot or the change is number one. Think about your attributes, skill sets…your network,  your resume and tell your story differently. but spend time as you’re networking with people who are there that can help guide you on the pivot or help guide you on that ladder of where you want to go.”

“[To] add to that, I also would say to think about your transferable skills. I think too many times we underestimate what skills that we’ve developed in one area that might be transferable to another discipline.” commented Aleta Howell.

Bring a Seat to the Table

Don’t see a seat at the table? Bring one. You, as much as anyone else in the organization, deserves to take up space and share your perspective and insights. Have confidence and faith in yourself and all the knowledge you have acquired to get to this very position.

In the end, using Black resistance to push for a more inclusive workspace will allow for more success. You can do this by building relationship capital, being prepared, and advancing where you can. You are truly limitless, and with these quick strategies, making your way to the top is definitely possible.

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Aleta Howell

Global Director, DEI Business and Recruitment Strategy at Cisco

Aleta Howell, with a background in marketing and advertising, has been a driving force in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Cisco. From her early days as a program manager for the Office of Inclusion to her current role leading diversity and inclusive recruitment, Aleta has been instrumental in aligning DEI strategies across the company.  Aleta’s commitment to creating an inclusive workforce showcases her leadership in advancing DEI in the workplace.

Kanyatta Walker

The Vice President of HR & Legal IT at Cisco

Kanyatta is a seasoned executive with over 22 years of experience in technology, strategy, and digital transformation. Recognized for her adaptability and problem-solving skills, Kanyatta has led enterprise-wide initiatives and IT operations, driving innovation and navigating complex challenges. 

Her impressive background includes leadership positions at renowned companies like ADP, Accenture, and Amdocs. She is passionate about mentoring and empowering young women in STEAM fields, as evidenced by her involvement in organizations like Women In Technology and Executive Women of Goizueta.

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