According to research, only 1.5% of top management positions in the private sector of the U.K. are held by people of color, an increase of just 0.1 percentage points since 2014. Even less progress has reportedly been made regarding Black representation in the public sector, where the percentage of Black employees in leadership positions remained constant at 1% over the same period. With only 16% of board seats on the Fortune 500, African-Americans, who comprise about 40% of the U.S. population, continue to be underrepresented in business. It begs the question, “Are we doing enough?”
One of the common reasons for low Black leadership is an unconscious bias – unconsciously formed social stereotypes about particular groups of people by individuals. Other factors contributing to a lack of leadership positions are a lack of role models, a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, and training and development opportunities.
Three ways Black professionals can improve leadership skills
Strong leadership qualities enable a leader to foster a more effective and enjoyable workplace, ultimately improving the business’s long-term results. How do Black professionals strengthen their leadership skills?
Find a mentor to sharpen your leadership skill set
Be sure the mentor you choose is trustworthy and will provide you with honest criticism. A mentor can offer you support, advice, and direction. They can also aid in your quest for a deeper comprehension of who you are and what you want. Mentors can be anyone – a colleague, a trusted colleague, a friend, a senior manager, or someone with more experience.
Prioritize personal growth and development
A good leader knows the importance of self-development. To build your leadership capacity, be willing to prioritize learning and have a plan for your professional development. There is always time to gain insight, regardless of how busy you are. Knowledge makes you aware of how much you still need to know and how much room there is for growth. Begin the training to acquire the skills you need once you decide how to advance as a leader.
Build a strong network
Building a solid network is essential for career growth and development. It enables you to connect with other professionals in your industry, learn from their experiences, and gain new opportunities. As a leader, having a strong network can also help you find the right talent for your team and establish partnerships with other organizations.
To make meaningful professional connections, you need to be proactive and intentional. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with people on social media
BYP US Leadership Summits
If you want to improve your leadership skills and advance your career, our upcoming BYP U.S. Leadership Summits are for you. Our first-ever U.S. summits will bring together Black professionals from various industries to share insights and strategies for success. You’ll be able to connect with other leaders, learn from industry experts, and gain valuable insight into the skills you need to succeed as a Black professional.