We have come to the end Black History Month, a time to celebrate black excellence and remember the struggles that the community have faced.
Last year at Flock we spent the month focusing on cognitive bias and looking at ways we can be reflective and accountable when it comes to the bias that we all possess. When celebrating Black History Month we think it’s essential that we recognise how people’s biases have shaped the worldwide view of black individuals. Individuals’ Prejudice has had a huge impact on black culture and how black people interact with the world around them, due to history black people have constantly been viewed as a monolith which has been extremely damaging to people within the community.
It can be so easy to view a certain community as a monolith, this can be a way for people to detach from the human being that is in front of them and only see the stereotype that they have been fed. However, in recent years it has been great to see that the world is moving further and further away from stereotypes that severely damage communities.
We recognise that we Flockers are unique in our personalities, interests, and ways of working and we encourage that! We understand that without unique individuals on our team we wouldn’t be able to carry out our mission to transform the lives of the marketeers around us as we have been for the past ten years.
This year at Flock we focused on actioning what we learnt last year, we’ve all accepted the Bias that we possess, and it is now time for us to be the change that’s needed to irradicate discrimination. In light of this, we had an ‘Allyship & Priveledge’ workshop to discuss what makes a good ally and to identify the privilege that some may possess and use that privilege to be a good ally to others. Below is some of the feedback from the team:
“I thought the speaker was very good one of the best we’ve had actually as she was knowledgeable and interactive and also let us go off on conversations which I liked”
“I loved it! It’s so great that we take the time to discuss this as a team, and the guest helped guide the conversation but also allowed us to have a very open exchange. And I think that exercise helped us see that everyone has their journeys and challenges and the great thing about flock is that we are so diverse and inclusive.”
“I genuinely learnt a lot, have always felt flock is a very diverse environment and sessions like this solidify my position on it. It was good to have a discussion-based approach where we could see the perspectives of different people in one room”
We also got the opportunity to have an open discussion with our Chief Operating officer Aysha Haynes, about her journey as a black woman in Operations. It was interesting hearing Aysha’s perspective and this conversation gave us an insight into what other young black professionals may experience as they climb the corporate ladder. It was a pleasure speaking with Aysha and we would like to close out Black History Month with this interview:
What made you want to get into Operations?
“It was my natural curiosity to want to constantly improve things and make sure everything was managed efficiently”
What were you expecting when entering the corporate world? What was your reality?
“I mean, I was definitely expecting to make loads of money, which didn’t happen. I knew it was going to be hard work, I thought it was going to be fun and games, but when I started working you were drilled in to focus more on having job security, so, I was making the best of it. I knew that I didn’t want to work in a role where people just complained about it all the time, I really wanted to enjoy the job that I was doing, and at that age I wanted to make money, which is why I went into business studies to begin with. I never really started out wanting to do operations, I just knew that I wanted to do something business related.”
What was one of the hardest pills you had to swallow when it came to working in the corporate world?
“One of the hardest pills to swallow was, being judged. Being judged for what I look like, being judged for what people perceived to understand, being judged on other people’s mistakes or behaviours”
Did you always know you wanted to be in a C-suite role?
“I always knew I wanted to be in a position of influence, I didn’t imagine being in a C-suite role now. I’ve always had a drive and ambition to want to help people, to be the stepping stone, to make sure that those that come after me don’t have to encounter what I’ve gone through. So, I always wanted to be in a position where I could help, but I didn’t always plan to be in a C-suite position because I didn’t like the C-suite people that I had to look up to. I didn’t aspire to progress in the corporate world at all.”
Would you change anything about your journey?
“I don’t think I would change my journey, I think in hindsight, I would have liked the opportunity to explore. I’m only now exploring the sides of me that kind of closed down because the focus was on job security and I feel like there are lots of innovative, creative things that I would have liked to have done and tried and I’m only now having the headspace, the opportunity, the confidence to be able to do that. So, I would have liked to explore that.
And I think as much as people guide and help support you, your ability to manage that judgment and to constantly question yourself and not believe in yourself impacted me.”
What would you like to see more of within the corporate world?
“I’d like to see people genuinely take time to stop and listen to understand what people are saying. I’d like them to be curious, when you’re listening to understand you’re being curious, you’re not just waiting for people to finish. I’ve always felt misunderstood, and that’s carried me because it’s like there’s something wrong with me, but there isn’t, there’s something wrong with the way that the corporate world listens.”
What motivates you?
“Doing something that you know is going to impact and help. Doing things for the better, working on something that has real purpose and value. Being able to have autonomy and flexibility. “
What advice do you have for black women entering the corporate world and who want to be in a similar position to you?
“I think the first thing is to really believe in your vision and manifest it. What is that you want?
The second thing is to just really know your environment, you can’t go into it being naïve, nothing is perfect, and everything is different. So, it’s about really going in there and observing and knowing your environment, because then that allows you, with the third Point, which is to really stand your ground, believe in yourself, and use your voice according to the environment that you’re in and adapt your voice. So, when I say adapt, you’re not compromising, you’re adapting. There are things that need to be said in a certain way, there isn’t always a straight one-way. I’ve been successful because I’m able to navigate. Somethings you need to do silently, somethings you need to do publicly, you know there are different techniques and that’s all been based on knowing your environment but being passionate about what it is that you need to say.
The fourth thing is that you’ve got to have your thing that you’re able to reset your energy with because the journey isn’t easy and you’re going to get those roadblocks. You need energy boosters and a good strong network around you. “
We implore you to reflect, learn and take action to create a better world for everyone. Below are some resources on Cognitive bias, please read and pass on your newfound knowledge to those around you.
Three cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work and how to overcome them