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You Are Damn Impressive… PERIOD

Uncategorized Mar 07, 2024

It’s 2024. It’s time to lead with value. Full stop. 

Why am I talking about this? Let me set the scene. 

It’s Sunday afternoon in downtown Raleigh. Over 100 Triangle Leaders are gathered. Dynamic conversations abound. And somehow I found myself in the middle of it.

What was the catalyst? The screening of the acclaimed documentary OnBoard the Film, covering the journey of corporate board diversity from Patricia Roberts Harris—the first Black woman to sit on a corporate board (and at IBM nonetheless)—to the present day. This film informed, inspired and empowered us all. 

The Discussion

Immediately following the screening, I had the honor of moderating the discussion with three extraordinary women: Gina Loften, Fortune 100 Board Director, Rashida Hodge, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, and Trisha Price, Chief Product Officer of Pendo. Here are some of the things I was curious about. (While this isn’t a direct transcript, I’ve provided a few of the questions, answers and takeaways.) 

Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your career that fueled your passion for advocating diversity in boardrooms?

A: Loften said “The pivotal moment for me began when I was separated into spaces where I was the only person who looked like me. It started way back in third grade, when I was put into gifted classes—and I was the only Black female in those classes. I was getting experiences and learning that my peers weren’t. I carried that responsibility with me as I continued excelling through life—from school to jobs to board positions.”

“Once you get a seat at the table,” Loften said, “you have the responsibility to advocate and share what you are learning until the others can get there with you. We need a sisterhood to help bring others of us up.”

Q: I would be hard pressed to find someone today who is successfully navigating corporate leadership that doesn’t have a strong mentor, ally or cheerleader in the backdrop of their journey. Can you talk a little about the role your mentors have played in preparing you to serve on corporate boards?

A: Hodge shared how Tim Humphrey, CAO of IBM, actively served as a sponsor, providing her specific and actionable feedback that changed her career trajectory. “Early in my career, I wasn’t confident enough at the time and didn’t have the lens to see what I was missing,” Hodge said. He also gave her exposure and opportunity. “He put the spotlight on me instead of taking it for himself, to allow me to shine.”

Price also spoke about her experiences with mentorship. She had us laughing out loud as she described how her mentor opened her office door and said, “This is Trisha Price and we’re going to make her ****ing famous!” That moment changed everything.

As an ally, Price talked about having crucial conversations with executive leadership. “Once I got into my leadership role, I kept reminding my CEO and the C-Suite at my previous employer that I wasn’t comfortable until diversity was represented on the board.” As a panel, we discussed how risky those conversations can feel… and how important it is to have them. 


I wrapped up the panel by asking a time-honored question. “What advice would you give someone in our audience who is anxious to explore corporate board opportunities?  What is a great ‘next step’ for them to take?”

Here’s my summary:

  1. Become board-ready. Ask executives, “What do I need to do to become board-ready?” You have nothing to lose. 
  2. Sponsorship is critical. I was struck by an insight shared by Loften. She said, “Black women are over-mentored and under-sponsored” and she's not wrong. If you're a mentor, give specific feedback. Say your mentee’s name. Put them in the spotlight.
  3. Toss the qualifiers. In the film, Fawn Weaver, CEO & Founder of Uncle Nearest Inc. said, “You’re damn impressive…PERIOD.”  It’s about time we recognized the significant contributions of Black females—without the qualifiers “Black” or “female.” 
  4. Exercise your power. What does your corporate board look like? If you have the power to influence who occupies those seats, use it!

See For Yourself

Want to watch the trailer? (Trust me; you DO!) Check it out here: OnBoard, the film


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