Four Distinguished Black Business Leaders and a Fantastic Book!

NOTE: Some links to related blogs dealing with race and racism at the bottom.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, even though my deep area of expertise is the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community, I know it is critical to educate myself and support other key areas of diversity including race. The struggles of black-owned businesses and professionals are still very real and present and need continued attention.

One wonderful organization I occasionally participate with is the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA – link), conceived in 1970 to help Blacks coming into the corporate sector, largely for the first time, share experiences and insights to help make the journey easier. See my 2014 blog about their “Leaders of Tomorrow” Program.

On February 2, 2018, the Raleigh-Durham chapter of the NBMBAA hosted a panel discussion with four distinguished business leaders:
• James Sills, CEO, M&F Bank
• Michael Lawrence, CEO, NC Mutual Life Insurance Company
• Isaac Green, President & CEO, Piedmont Investment Advisors
• Joseph Sansom, past chairman of M&F bank and on their Raleigh Advisory Board.

Some of the key points made during the panel discussion included:

• Many black-owned businesses like the ones represented on the panel were founded as a necessity when the enterprises of the day would not serve black customers.

• M&F Bank realized the importance of “owning” vs “renting” and provided loans for mortgages in the early 1900s to blacks.

• Supporting community banks, businesses and community is important for the vibrancy of a community.

• With desegregation came a great deal of mergers and acquisitions of these black owned businesses which has been both good and bad for the black community. For example, in 1970 there were 45 black-owned insurance companies and now that is down to under 20.

• One dynamic of leading a black owned business is the opportunity to call the shots instead of being on the outside looking in.
In addition to attending this panel, I recently read a fantastic short (only 108 pages) powerful book titled “Listen In – Crucial Conversations on Race in the Workplace” by Allison Manswell. This unique book is written as a novel, but contains subsections of useful business tools as it follows the journeys of 5 black professionals who are close friends. The book also addresses the intersection of the black community with generational, gender, religious and gay diversity.

The USA will be a stronger country and our economy more robust as we continue to understand the issues of various minorities within our national fabric and take action to support and nurture all businesses and professionals.

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Related Blogs:

In “Sexism, Racism and the Dynamics of Power,” I examine the power dynamic as critical when we discuss the societal and workplace issues of sexism, sexual harassment and racism.

“Divided We Stand – Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump,” reviews and summarizes a fascinating and important book by David R. Morse that chronicles the many forms of racism present within the USA from our founding days up to current times.

• Though a good number of white people believe that the racial discrimination of the past is eradicated, the black community for the most part, as well as statistical realities, would indicate otherwise. See “Facing the Truth – Racism Still Persists in the USA.”)