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Supporting Black Leadership in the Workplace

By VerityCU March 11, 2022 Community

The racial wealth and equity gap will continue to grow and persist without more companies and businesses looking beyond their usual pool of candidates and intentionally looking for people who have different lived experiences than their own.

In a recent panel discussion with Melinda Briana Epler of the Change Catalyst: Leading with Empathy and Allyship podcast, Verity’s CEO Tonita Webb shared about her professional journey from the U.S. Air Force to the credit union industry. She and fellow guest William A. Adams, technical adviser at Microsoft and Technologist, discussed some of the similar experiences they’ve had advancing to corporate leadership positions.


In the U.S., at the senior manager and VP level, Black employees make up about 5% of the workforce, and only 4% at SVP level. And only about 1% of Fortune 500 CEO spots are held by Black leaders (link:  When Tonita joined Verity, she became one of a handful of Black women leading large financial institutions in the country. Very few corporate leadership positions are filled by people who look like Tonita and William--they discussed how when they advance their careers and get new positions, there is always the feeling that others consider then a “diversity hire.” 

So how do businesses ensure they are attracting, and retaining, a diverse workforce? Tonita offered a few suggestions:

  • The company culture should be such that people feel like they belong and “no matter what the person’s background is, they can show up as themselves”.
  • Create space for healing and caring. Discussing historical issues, microaggressions, racism, and broken systems likely reopens traumatic wounds for people.
  • Ensure you have pay equity. Nationally, there is still a gap between racial identities and genders, with Black and Latinx women earning less on average.

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