My “catching up on reading ALL the library books” project continues. I had requested that our library purchase Confessions from Your Token Black Colleague by Talisa Lavarry after reading an article about imposter syndrome which quoted Lavarry’s experience. The article made me think about imposter syndrome, which I include on my leadership module, in a different way and connect with wider issues around structural inequalities, which has led to a richer discussion as part of the module. Anyway, I was intrigued about Lavarry’s book and thanks to our wonderful library it made my way into my reading pile.
Lavarry structures the book around a series of “confessions” about her experiences as a black woman working in corporations in the US. I found it shocking, humbling, frustrating and unsettling. Interspersed with conversations with business leaders who have taken on leading change to ensure that workplaces are truly inclusive, Lavarry also includes chapters that directly address different groups of professionals to do better and acknowledge our biases so that we can work to truly understand what we can actively do to improve equality and diversity wherever we are working.
The format of the book is accessible and Lavarry’s style is compelling. I found myself questioning what I was doing on a daily basis to support colleagues, be a true ally and actually enact positive change. It made me want to better.
I would definitely recommend this book as a hard look at the experiences of black women in organisations as well as challenging us all to acknowledge directly our bias and make positive steps to make a difference.