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Session 254: Black Women In the Workplace

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

So much of our adult lives are impacted by our work. For some, it can determine where we live, where our children go to school, and even what times we eat dinner. Additionally, the quality of our lives depends largely on who we work with, which is why our work experiences should be improving our lives and not dampening them. In this week’s session, I speak with one of my former professors, Dr. Kecia M. Thomas, Dean, professor, and expert in the psychology of workplace diversity. Our conversation explores the complexities of color blindness in the workplace, overt and covert signs of workplace discrimination, and the critical research on diversity resistance in the workplace.

🎉 This episode marks 5 years of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast! Thank you so much for your support and engagement.

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Producers: Fredia Lucas & Cindy Okereke

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Session 254: Black Women In the Workplace

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 254 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get right into the conversation after a word from our sponsors.

[SPONSORS’ MESSAGES]

Dr. Joy: Today's episode of the podcast is not only exciting because of the great conversation I'll be sharing. Today's episode also marks five years of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. On April 3, 2017, the first episode of the podcast was released and we have been sharing weekly episodes ever since. To say that life has changed dramatically since then is an understatement. Back then, it was just me and my husband burning the midnight oil, cranking up the episodes and now we have a team of 10 sisters here, three of them dedicated to the podcast. We’ve released 265 episodes, the podcast has been downloaded more than 18 million times, and y'all tune in every week from more than 175 countries.

We've won a Webby Award, an Ambie award and two iHeart podcast awards and I'm currently writing my first book, Sisterhood Heals, in large part because of the amazing ways that y'all have shown up in this community each week. I remain humble and grateful for your continued support, engagement and willingness to share and be vulnerable in this space. A huge thank you to Fredia, Ellice and Cindy for helping to create the podcast each week. Thank you to my husband Dennison for continuing to burn the midnight oil with me and for always making us sound so good, to the team at iHeart for your support, and to all of you for tuning in and sharing. We could not have made it here without you. Thank you.

So much of our adult lives are impacted by our work. For some, it can determine where we live, where our children go to school and even what times we eat dinner. Additionally, the quality of our lives depends largely on who we work with, which is why our work experiences should be improving our lives and not dampening them. In this week's episode, I speak with one of my former professors, Dr. Kecia M. Thomas, dean, professor and expert in the psychology of workplace diversity.

Our conversation explores the complexities of colorblindness in the workplace, overt and covert signs of workplace discrimination, and the critical research on diversity resistance in the workplace. If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or join us over in the Sister Circle to talk more in depth about the episode. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: I’m so happy to chat with you, Dr. Thomas. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Dr. Thomas: Happy to be here and happy to catch up with you, Dr. Joy.

Dr. Joy: I know, it has been some time. For those of you who don't know, Dr. Thomas was one of our professors at the University of Georgia so she has known me for a very long time. It's always such a pleasure to chat with people who I've known in other areas of my life.

Dr. Thomas, I would love for you to get us started just by talking about how you came to focus on workplace diversity as your research, and why do you feel like the research that you've been doing is necessary?

Dr. Thomas: We spend so much of our adult lives at work, talking about work, complaining about work. I learned very early on that my dad's work kind of infiltrated all different aspects of my life. It determined where we lived, where I went to school, even what time I ate dinner because he worked a second shift job. And so I just realized very early on that work was important and I wanted to make sure that people like myself have a better work experience.

Dr. Joy: What has your research found specifically about black women in the workplace?

Dr. Thomas: It's so complicated because as someone who focuses on diversity in the workplace, oftentimes what we will discover when we use a more intersectional analysis of our data is that whatever is going on in the workplace will impact black women the most. If there is a negative climate for diversity, black women are going to kind of demonstrate those effects or manifestations first. If I'm looking at how to recruit more people of color and women into corporate America, I'm going to find out that black women are the most sensitive detectives when trying to uncover what an organization's culture is really about.

I think in my most recent empirical work around diversity ideologies in organizations (such as colorblindness and multiculturalism) we found in a field study that colorblindness, white colorblindness, was a very negative experience for workers of color to the point that it led to their disengagement. Subsequent researchers have also found that colorblindness in organizations demonstrates or it seems to signal like a low value for diversity, that someone's going to feel at risk for discrimination and harassment and they will not feel as though they will perform as well. For black women in particular, field data has further demonstrated that they don't perform as well in those environments, so we are always the one to show the effects the most.

Dr. Joy: Dr. Thomas, when you refer to colorblindness in a workplace, what are you meaning?

Dr. Thomas: People of my generation, Gen Xers and perhaps older, grew up in a society that told us that we shouldn't notice difference. That we're all the same, it doesn't matter if you're purple, green, or blue (which of course is a problem), you shouldn't at least ever acknowledge that you notice differences. Because if you were to notice them, then that means you could act upon them in a negative way. But the reality is, of course we notice skin color differences and gender. Those are the first things that we notice and saying that we don't notice differences doesn't mean that we don't act upon them. If anything, it seems to give people license to engage in discriminatory and harassment behavior without fear of being called out upon it. That's what I mean about colorblindness. I think in organizations, those who use colorblind systems are ones that attempt to treat all people the same. But we know that treating people equally sometimes reinforces the disparities that they come into the organization with. And higher education workplaces have an opportunity to compensate for some of the historical and structural limitations that some people might have even though they have tremendous potential.

Dr. Joy: I think something that lots of people are doing now, especially as maybe many are looking for new jobs or new workplaces, the answer is vetting these places to kind of see, okay, what kind of fit is this going to be? How are people like me going to be treated in an organization like this? Can you give us any ideas about any overt or covert signs that a workplace might not actually be championing diversity?

Dr. Thomas: Right, because everyone knows the rhetoric. Everyone knows to say diversity, equity, inclusion, but you have to listen more carefully to whether or not they are sending these kinds of colorblind signals. That it doesn't matter where you come from, once you enter this organization, we're all the same. And I think if you ask people in the organization, they might say different, so I certainly look out for colorblind messages. I also look out for what can I find out about the diversity in that organization, by gender, by race, by nationality, if those data are available. And then I want to know where is the diversity located? Is it only at the lowest levels of the organizations? And if there are people of color in leadership, are they people who rose up in the organization, who developed and were able to grow their careers? Or were they people who were brought in from the outside? Those are two very different messages around how this organizations see leadership because if they're not growing people from the inside, it makes you wonder where there is a lack of investment.

Dr. Joy: Great points there. Yeah, I was gonna ask you like what does it mean about an organization if you see maybe there are people of color but they're not people of color who have been with the organization for a long time. In your mind, or at least maybe the research is suggesting that if you see a more homegrown approach, so to speak, like somebody who maybe started at a lower level and they invested in them, that may signify like a greater investment?

Dr. Thomas: I would think so, and it also tells you about people's willingness to stay. People generally don't stay where they don't feel valued or rewarded for their excellence. If people are willing to stay, that tells you something about the culture that you're walking into.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. Something else I've been thinking about, Dr. Thomas, it does feel like there is a backlash. At least seemingly, post 2020 and what I call like the summer of the black squares when all of these organizations and workplaces were coming out with all of these statements about diversity and their pledges. It does feel like lots of corporations have walked back on a lot of that and so now we see black women in particular talking about still having very hostile experiences in the workplace. Have you done any research or seen any research that is talking about what diversity looks like now in the workplace, kind of post 2020?

Dr. Thomas: I wish I had the site in front of me but I know that there has been a recent study that said organizations just have not fulfilled their commitment, and what they're doing I think is pretty performative. In the second volume of Diversity Resistance in Organizations, we talk about performative diversity as focusing on setting up these DEI offices and putting the most liked person of color in charge, without any kind of education, training or experience to really lead in that area. Or putting individuals in these DEI officer roles who don't report directly to the most senior leader–the CEO or the chairman of the board. Not giving them the resources, financial or human resource, to really carry out their message.

I think other things that are happening is that, unfortunately, we focus a lot on training without understanding the climate for training transfer. Any kind of IO psychologist will tell you it's not enough to simply train someone in a new technique or a new piece of equipment, you have to make sure that once they return back to their workplace or their department that they actually are rewarded and supported in using what they've been trained on. But oftentimes, when we do DEI training, we might be there alone. Our coworkers haven't received the training, no one's holding us accountable to use the training and no one's really giving us the support or reinforcement to use it. Standing up training as a strategy to be a DEI leader is just simply not enough and I would say it’s performative.

Dr. Joy: You use the term that I don't know that I'm familiar with–diversity resistance–and it sounds like it's the name of your book but it also is a term. Can you say more about what diversity resistance is in the workplace?

Dr. Thomas: Sure. My grad students at Georgia and I started doing this work probably in the late 90s and the first book came out around ’08. We define diversity resistance as institutional or interpersonal behaviors, intentionally or unintentionally, that interrupt the opportunity for diversity to be an asset to an organization. There are these different justifications for why organizations need to think about DEI. There is a moral social justice justification, it's the right thing to do, but then there's also folks in management who do work around “if you're focused on DEI, it's going to help you gain a greater market share of consumers or people who will buy your services.” If you're recognized as a DEI leader such as the best place for working moms, your stock prices can shoot up by being celebrated.

Recently, a group, social psychologist Stark et al, revealed that when you compare those justifications for diversity, it's really the moral argument that benefits underrepresented groups. They compare the use of those arguments in higher ed settings. In the moral social justice argument universities, you see the achievement gaps between white students and students of color decreasing. But the opposite is true when those higher ed institutions are trying to use an instrumental argument for diversity, like it's going to make us more innovative, it's a compelling interest because it makes us better decision makers and more creative. So we really do need to reinforce the social justice and moral argument for why we attend to these issues.

Dr. Joy: Back to your earlier point around some of these trainings being performative, what approaches have you seen be more effective than like the one-off trainings that can sometimes not really be in service of the organization?

Dr. Thomas: The first lesson is that it always begins with leadership. The most senior person in power has to make DEI a priority and a value of the institution. And then it has to subsequently infiltrate every aspect of their leadership–how they recruit people, how they select them, the criteria that they use to identify people to develop and to promote subsequently. It can't be a standalone conversation; it has to be a part of every conversation that the senior leader and those who follow that person have with their followers. I think about chief financial officers–we talk about money all the time in organizations, you don't have to be in budgets or finance to talk about money. The same has to take place when it comes to issues of DEI, everyone is responsible. There may be people who are advisors or who can coach you to be a better DEI leader; ultimately, everyone has to have responsibility and be held accountable.

Dr. Joy: Thank you for that. More from my conversation with Dr. Thomas after the break.

[BREAK]

Dr. Joy: Something that we discussed early on in the pandemic in the Therapy for Black Girls community was how many black women... while anxious about what was happening with the pandemic, how relieved so many black women felt about not having to go into the office and deal with all the micro aggressions and macro aggressions we know that will happen in the workplace. Can you say a little bit about some of these microaggressions? What are those and what do those look like specifically for black women, typically?

Dr. Thomas: The biggest micro aggression, Derald Wing Sue calls a macro micro aggression, is colorblindness to begin with. Working in an environment where you are rewarded for not noticing difference, that's problematic. I think those of us in professional environments hear micro insults all the time about how articulate we are, how professional we are. But I think there's also micro invalidations where people are questioning how we got to where we are. Like, oh, what school did you go to? Did you really go there? Did you play a sport? I think they are complicated and we confront them in ways that may seem benign initially. But after you experience them so many times, they really tell you more about the actor and them having low expectations of the women of color, the black women in particular, in their work settings. I think there are other cultural aspects of our black womanhood that are still foreign to the people that we work with. Hair of course is a big one, and my colleagues Tina Opie and Beth Livingston have done some work on how we evaluate the professionalism of black people (black women in particular) because of something like hair which is not a legally defensible job characteristic in almost every situation.

Dr. Joy: Besides the microaggressions, are there other discriminatory practices that you've seen that hold black women back from like reaching their highest potential in the workplace?

Dr. Thomas: There's significant exclusion that black women face across different industries. Lack of access to mentors who provide both psychosocial and instrumental support, lack of access to networks which provide the informal information you need to really navigate your career in your workplace, and then lack of access to sponsors. Sponsors are those individuals who actually have the positionality, the authority to open doors and to point you in the fruitful direction for your career development.

In fact, when I was still at Georgia, I was giving presentations to the Atlanta DEI community. I had a senior leader at one of the big utility companies talk to me after one of the presentations and said he wanted to provide a corporate gift to my lab because he had seen so many really high performing black women get poached from his organization and go to some of their competitors. I asked him what he thought was going on and it was really similar to what we could imagine was going on based on the literature. And he said they were alone, no one would mentor them. White women wouldn’t mentor them, often they were a source of competition. The black men above them did not mentor them. And I think David Thomas who is now president at Morehouse would say that there's likely some taboos there that impeded black men from reaching out to black women to mentor them. They were almost always on their own and so they were vulnerable to being recruited by other organizations and he really wanted help in understanding what they could do as an organization to better retain those women.

Dr. Joy: That's a really interesting point, Dr. Thomas, and I wonder if you have some thoughts about what you can do if you find yourself as the only black woman. It feels, in some ways, I think kind of hopeless when you are doing your best to kind of look around at who could be a mentor, who could be a sponsor, and like all you see are closed doors. Do you have any suggestions for anybody who might find themselves in that place?

Dr. Thomas: You know, it's critical to have some kind of connection. I think if that's your experience in your workplace, you have to take the best out of the situation and understand that you may only have connections with them between nine and five. During nine to five, it may only be around certain tasks or certain responsibilities, so you take what you can get out of that experience. But I think it's also really critical to form more deep trusting respectful relationships with people outside of our organizations (perhaps who work in the same industry or who work in a different location of the organization that we're employed at) and find some deeper connections. Hopefully, with other black women or women of color, but ultimately with people who are invested in your success and in your growth.

I think we all need mentors and my literature says we need a constellation of mentors. And it's really critical that you have mentors of diverse groups because I feel as though most black women who are senior, certainly the folks that I collaborate with the most, almost all of us would say that we had white male mentors who helped to elevate us in very unintentional ways. And there's even some research demonstrating that having a white male leader has a financial premium tied to it. My reasoning about this is that they provide a certain level of acceptability or credibility that unfortunately women and people of color do not yet provide. Is it racist? Is it sexist? Absolutely. But the reality of the situation that I think at least women in my peer group have often found that their ascent was in some ways helped by having a white male mentor or advocate.

Dr. Joy: You mentioned, Dr. Thomas, this idea that sometimes black women are not mentored or sponsored because they are seen as a threat. You have also done an incredible amount of work in this phenomenon called the “pet to threat phenomenon.” Can you say more about what that is and how that shows up in the workplace?

Dr. Thomas: Definitely and, of course, I want to acknowledge that team that did that work. It was myself, Juanita Johnson-Bailey, your major professor Rosemary Phelps, and then two of my former students, doctors Lindsay Johnson and Mia Tran. And I will tell you, how this began is that Dr. Phelps and Johnson-Bailey and I were participating in HERS which is the Higher Education Resource Service, which is basically a boot camp for women leaders in academics. We were in this year long program and we would travel up to Wellesley College about once a month with all these high potential women, and we would have conversations during breaks or over meals about our career experiences.

One night, we were kind of debriefing among ourselves and we were hearing some of the same things over and over again. Some of our younger colleagues often talked about feeling belittled, that they were treated sometimes as though they were a daughter of their male colleagues. I remember one woman, she was in physics and she was the only woman in her department and she was saying how the men in her department would say, oh, you remind me of my daughter. And a few times, we would hear that people felt as though they were really being pushed out and kind of celebrated but not necessarily for the knowledge, skills and abilities that they were bringing, but more because they brought diversity with them. They changed the composition of their workgroup or their department.

And then more senior women, we heard that they were also isolated, they were usually the first of their kind or one of a kind. But their experience was a little different in that they felt as though they weren't receiving the same rewards and recognition as their male peers. That some of the accomplishments that they have were not celebrated in the same ways as some of their predecessors and they were frustrated about this because they had done all the things that they were supposed to do and then not getting the same reward and recognition. Furthermore, they started talking about their support systems eroding–family relationships, romantic relationships, mentor relationships. And then subsequently feeling like even when they ascend to positions of authority and leadership or even became experts in a particular area, that expertise and that leadership was challenged and they talked about being treated as though they were threatening.

As we were talking about this, I said it's like you go from pet to threat. That really, I think, describes what the experience is like for being severely underrepresented in your industry or in your workplace and trying to navigate other people's expectations of why you're there, who you're supposed to be and what the future might look like in that industry or in that workplace.

Dr. Joy: So incredible. I appreciate that backstory. I don't know that I had heard how that term came to be. You know, as psychologists, I think we are both fascinated by the why and so I'm wondering if you can say a little bit about like why high achieving black women become threats. What is it that happens in the dynamic in the relationship that causes us to then be seen as threats to people?

Dr. Thomas: I think much of the why (and we're starting to see this occur in other areas) is the challenge we represent to the status quo. The challenge we represent to how things have always been, what you could expect in the future, what you could count on. We physically represent a difference and then our voice, our perspectives, our priorities, then subsequently might also be different and it becomes too much. I honestly think this kind of challenging of the status quo is a lot of it. And let's not forget that there are still people who hold on to the misbelief that we have positions and titles because we have benefited from some unfair form of affirmative action or preferential treatment. It is unfortunately so often where people are just blown away that I got a PhD like 30 years ago. They just cannot wrap their heads around us as a group engaging in higher ed, getting experiences, traveling internationally, managing large budgets, managing people. It still is, unfortunately, foreign to them.

Dr. Joy: I'm wondering, Dr. Thomas, if you have any quotes from your research that you can share about black women's experiences going from being a pet or a protegee at work to turning into a threatening force.

Dr. Thomas: Sure. I have one pet quote I would like to share. This is a person who was a clinical faculty member. She says I was put out front on many issues but not given the responsibility, what I’ve called to be seen but not heard. I would have my projects or contributions given to other faculty as soon as they became successful. I even had a grant project funded by X written up in the university newsletter without my name attached. I was expected to both support and do whatever as necessary for minority students in the program and expected to withdraw support if majority faculty wanted it. Of course, I would always do the former but not the latter. I have had information and support withheld from me even when I've requested it. I've had faculty want to be seen with me in order to gain what I call diversity social capital. This is also something that majority students have done. They of course are not wanting to do the work necessary to be culturally competent.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, that feels so exhausting because you're already doing the work of like... Yeah, you're trying to do your job but then there are all these things that you did not necessarily sign up for that then come with the work too, that just leave you I think feeling drained.

Dr. Thomas: Yeah, it's that cognitive demand of trying to predict how people are going to respond and be on target with your work responsibilities but not also have them derail your being successful in your work or your growing in your career. I have another example of a threat that I can share. At my last academic position, I was the first person in the history of my entire college to win a competitive Early Career Award. My “female department chair” did not announce it. Other department chairs, men, were the ones who actually made a big deal about it. This year, I received a major research award but it was not announced to my current college, unlike other grants earned by other people. I was told it was too small to count. I think that's a common experience–whatever it is we do, it's not going to be good enough even when it exceeds what others have done. And again, when we heard that not getting the same reward and recognition, I feel like that quote represents the lack of acknowledgement and reward but it also demonstrates the lack of ally-ship by her female chair.

Dr. Joy: I was gonna ask you, Dr. Thomas, have you seen a gendered piece to this? Are black women seen as more of a threat to other non-black women? I feel like even black women against each other is sometimes a dynamic. But I'm asking more specifically this time, is there a piece that black women are seen as more threatening to non-black women?

Dr. Thomas: I think certainly in the more public–the LinkedIn responses, the Twitter responses. Seeing a lot of black women talk about the disappointment of their advisors and mentors who are women not supporting them. But also the incredible letdown when your black female mentor starts to separate from you for whatever reasons. I think my colleagues, Ella Bell and Stella Nkomo (who are my heroes) do incredible work talking about the relationship between black and white women in the workplace, which is the last taboo in trying to understand the experiences of black women.

Bell Hooks has this wonderful quote about the relationship of white women to black women as being the one between the served and the server. Challenging that dynamic in the workplace and expecting to be treated as a peer, or in many cases as a superior, I think creates really unique and difficult challenges for African American women. Because oftentimes, there's not going to be another black woman that you can go to. Your inclination is to reach out to other women but if those other women are all white, that creates a whole other historic and social dynamic to try and navigate.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. More from my conversation with Dr. Thomas after the break.

[BREAK]

Dr. Joy: What suggestions would you have for someone, a black woman in the workplace, who recognizes that they may be treated as either a pet or a threat? Like is this something that you would call out to somebody? Like what can you do in this situation?

Dr. Thomas: You know, we take on so much additional labor. I think depending upon how you feel about that organization, its location, proximity to friends and family, you're willing to weigh some of these things differently. Any kind of leader would always say go to the source first. And have your receipts, have examples and documentation of ways in which perhaps you were overvalued for your diversity but underutilized based upon prior work history, your knowledge, skills and ability. Be willing to demonstrate what your salary is or what other rewards people have received relative to what you are receiving. There are lots of published salary surveys now where you will be able to acknowledge whether or not you're being under-compensated or not.

If that isn't helpful, I encourage women, actually every kind of new professional, to think of themselves as a free agent. I think sometimes we get too locked into a single institution and we feel as though we have something to prove in order to get the fair treatment that we deserve to begin with. And so rather than taking on all that work of a system that is sick, I say always have your performance at a level where you are attractive to lots of different institutions, lots of different organizations. And have a healthy level of distance from your workplace, understand that it is work. As we began the conversation–we spend a lot of time at work with those people, it provides us money, sometimes it provides us a sense of identity, but you also are valuable and you can be valuable to lots of other places in different industries, different locations.

Dr. Joy: Great suggestions there. As we started talking about earlier in the conversation–like how can you do some of this vetting of places you may be applying to–as a candidate, are there specific questions that we can ask to get a sense of whether a company is actually committed to diversity?

Dr. Thomas: Definitely. We talked about looking at the diversity rhetoric, looking at the number or proportions of people of color or non-traditional people in that environment to try and get a sense of where they are at. But two questions I thought about. Tell me about a success story in your organization. “Who’s the highest ranked woman of color or black woman in your organization and what's her story?” What were the roles that she had, the mentoring that she was provided? And then “who do you think would be a good mentor for me?” How many people can they come up with? What has been their career stories in that organization? You want to know that the people who you are going to report to have a level of investment in those around them so I think that's really critical.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, those are great questions that I don't know that I would have thought to ask so I appreciate you sharing those. What can you share for any like employers or leadership team members who may be listening, in terms of what kinds of things can they do to check their diversity resistance in their organization?

Dr. Thomas: The first thing I always think about is who is at the table. At the weekly leadership meeting, I think if you are the most senior person at the table, it's your responsibility to look around the table and think about who's not represented. And who's over represented, to be honest with you. It goes beyond skin color and gender, it also gets to types of education, backgrounds. Are they all financial people? Are there no management or HR type people? Are they all people who have international experience and no one who perhaps may have been a first gen person who worked their way up through college? I think that's really critical.

Then secondly, I would ask myself in what ways am I showing up as a diversity leader? Am I just delegating this responsibility to someone else and trusting them to do their best? Or am I a participant and a learner in what they are offering to the organization? And am I facilitating conversations with others who have similar levels of responsibility and authority? I think one of the most useful things for me has been to connect with other deans and talk about ways in which we are trying to diversify our faculty to build in more multicultural competence within the curriculum. We're not islands; ultimately, we are always in some level of community. And I think it's important, because of the work that I do, that I bring that outside of my organization and talk to my peers as well.

Dr. Joy: Perfect. Thank you so much for all of that, Dr. Thomas. Are there any resources that you would share for anybody who maybe wants to do more reading in this area to kind of stay up on this work? Anything that comes to mind?

Dr. Thomas: Sure. I already mentioned the work of Ella Bell and Stella Nkomo. They have a wonderful book–Our Separate Ways I think had its 20th or 25th anniversary, so it's been republished. David Thomas, the president of Morehouse, and Laura Morgan Roberts and another co-author have a book on race, work and leadership. I have a chapter in that book called When Black Leaders Leave, which I think kind of is summarized by a lot of our conversation today. But also look in professional societies. Society for Human Resource Management, for example, does excellent work. The *[inaudible 0:43:30] organization, which is a think tank in New York focused on women's leadership, has been a really excellent role model when it comes to thinking about diversity and leadership and women of color in particular. And then there are leaders around us in our communities. They may not be corporate types, they may not be MBAs or JDs, but there are lots of excellent women leading in our communities on our school boards that can teach us many lessons.

Dr. Joy: Where can we stay connected with you, Dr. Thomas? What is your website as well as any social media handles you'd like to share?

Dr. Thomas: My website is not all that exciting because it's more about my role as dean at UAB, but I will direct you to my Twitter handle which is @DrMissKecia. And you can also find me on LinkedIn, Kecia M. Thomas.

Dr. Joy: We will be sure to include all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Dr. Thomas.

Dr. Thomas: Great to see you, Dr. Joy, as always.

Dr. Joy: Thank you.

I'm so glad Dr. Thomas was able to share her expertise with us today. To learn more about her and her work, be sure to visit the show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/session254. And be sure to text two of your girls and tell them to check out the episode right now.

If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory.

If you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis, and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.