A highlight from How Black Women Leaders Navigate the Intersection of Gender and Race

Knowledge@Wharton
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Hello my name. Is stephanie korean. I'm an assistant professor of management at the wharton school of the university of pennsylvania. And i am so delighted to welcome you to today's episode of the knowledge at wharton leading diversity at work podcast series which is focused on what has really changed for black women leaders in the workplace joining me. Today are two very special guests earth. We have dr ella bell smith who is a professor of business ministration at tuck in the field of organizational behavior. Her research opuses on the career in life histories of professional african american in white women. She is a co author of the widely acclaimed book our separate ways black and white women and the struggle for professional identity. Which will be discussing today. Dr smith has served us also serve as a consultant to fortune five hundred companies and too many public institutions next. We had doctors stella income. Oh who is a professor in the department of human resource management in the faculty of economic in management sciences at the university of pretoria in south africa her internationally recognised research appears on diversity human resource management and leadership in organizations and has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes. She's also a co author of the book will be discussing today. Our separate ways black and white women in the struggle for professional identity in she is also the past president of the africa academy of management stella in allow. Thank you so much for being here today. I am so honored to have you here with me. For conversation. Really focused on what has really changed for black women leaders in the workplace now before we got here. I'm hoping that the to you might help us. Reflect a little bit on the last year especially the movement toward racial equity and justice around the world. And i think this is especially at timely. Given that we're almost approximately a year out from the murder of george floyd and certainly all corporate calls to action in commitments to end systemic racism as as many of them had had worded with a league. They were trying to do. But also in that the two of you. I like to describe as organizational behavior. Royalty i so much of what. I do as a scholar as as a professor is informed by the fact that the two of you have been putting out incites in both research in practice for a long time and i know that my interest in understanding race in organizations was fundamentally informed by the work that you have published in the academic round and certainly this book as well so i wanted to start there just to ground us in in the moment but also speak to the fact that you have extensive expertise in issues of race. You've been at this a while. I won't say how many years you can have a while. So i am really curious to gainer this on how this conversation about racial equity has manifested around the world in. Certainly the fact still a. You're at your in south africa right in. La you're here in the united states. I think this is just such an opportune time to to get a multi national perspective on this topic and it certainly to hear more about what this looks like in your respective countries. But i'm going to start with you. Sell up and i want to start with you at because something that is continually entered into my head is an insight that you explored in your nineteen ninety two academy of management review paper and. I love the title of this paper. It's the emperor. Has no clothes rewriting race in organizations. And so what is stayed me since i. I read this paper with the idea that race has long been silenced in our scholarship. Now this is you talking while the paper was published in nineteen ninety two. I don't know when you actually started writing it but in nineteen ninety two. You were saying that. This topic has been silenced in academia in our scholarship on salt in society an eminent as thinking about the last year. I can just describe it as it's now allowed. The conversation around race is very loud. And so i'm interested in understanding how you're thinking about the amplification of race in discourse on racial equity as it has manifested over the last year. Thank you stephanie. First of all let me say thank you for inviting me and l. Tippy part of this podcast series. Where really great happy to talk to. People share out thoughts as you put a lightly. You call those pioneers but you know. That's just a polite way of saying a thesis a really senior people in many respects but But anyway you know what i tell you. There's so much going on in my own mind about where we are in terms of the conversation about race and i was thinking about the idea of you know i wrote that paper. It's almost thirty years ago but of course one has seen more than thirty years. So you know. I think. I think about like paradoxical forces at a going on and i'm not sure where it's going to end up side. I think the way i think about it with a very critical juncture on the one hand people seem to have the spotlight on race. You know you see it in the us you look at the black lives movement. They say what close to twenty million people of all colors. When out in marched in supported black lives matter. The george floyd murder you know was shown repeatedly here in south africa it led to protests. Here the students in particular talked about the ongoing racism in south africa even though this is a majority black country so yes the amplification is loud. But he is what i'm worried about. How long will that amplification last. Because we've seen it before. And being you know i don't mind say my age. Being seventy four year old woman is sort of like deja vu all over again and people. Don't pay attention to history. We've had this before. I remember with the civil rights movement if you remember that suddenly you don't maybe summarize movement people thought. Oh wow. america is finally turning the corner missing in south africa people. So when mandela got elected president in nineteen ninety. Four south africa's to become a non-racial free country and then so the civil rights movement came it was heightened. Everybody was attuned to what you had the march on washington. And they're right. After that things went back to the status quo. And then you know. George floyd was murdered and we saw that but remember rodney king. Yes and then you know. Black people exploded in protest and people thought. Oh this rodney. King moment is awakened america to the reality of racism. So so i worry which side is going to prevail on one side. You have these positive things going on. You have corporate executives who can finally say

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