#ITSTIME to Take Your Seat: “Make an Impact”

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Recently, I began sharing my journey with the Black Corporate Board Readiness (BCBR) Program at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. In part 1 of this series, I shared my decision-making process in starting the program, as well as the impressive founders and advisory council. In part 2, I discussed a brief program overview; my personal and professional growth through the program; my reflections; and the sense of community created by the BCBR Program. In this part, I will talk about the event introducing the cohort to the public who were searching for Black board-ready candidates and my thoughts on how the BCBR graduates will impact social change.

MEET THE COHORT EVENT

At the completion of the program, the cohort participated in an event where the general public was invited to virtually meet the BCBR’s inaugural cohort. It was attended by executive recruiters, venture capitalists, private equity, and corporation representatives.

Over 150 attendees showed up, all of whom wanted to meet us. Wow! I was pleasantly surprised by this high attendance rate.

Each BCBR cohort member delivered a 2-minute pitch about who we are, our unique board service value proposition, and what we’re looking for in a board seat. Interested parties were welcome to contact us afterward.

For my presentation, I shared my WHY: “Putting the care back in healthcare.” I have dedicated my career to that, and my goal was to keep driving that passion with a healthcare organization where I could make an impact.

Personally, I was very pleased by the invitees’ response to the event, as I had several recruiters and other interested parties connect with me.

SOCIAL GOOD

It is my opinion, and the opinion of others, that social change starts with corporations and businesses. If you want to impact the greater good, the people leading organizations should look like and represent the communities in which they operate and the customers they serve.

One of the silver linings of Summer 2020 is that there is an awakening in America to drive inclusivity, belonging, and representation — starting at the top, in the C-suite and the boardroom, and throughout organizations. Companies are being held accountable now more than ever before and feeling the pressure to establish diversity initiatives.

It’s well-documented that there is a very large underrepresentation of Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), women, and other marginalized groups within companies’ senior leadership ranks. Decisions are made in the C-suite and the boardroom. Research has shown that companies whose boards and senior management teams are diverse perform 30% better than those firms with homogenous management teams! Companies with diverse leadership and employees have a better chance of removing unconscious bias, thus, improving overall business performance.

I’m hopeful that this awakening isn’t just a moment, but a movement in the right direction — inclusive of racial diversity as well as age, sexual orientation, disability, and more.

Most board members and leaders tend to recruit candidates in their personal network, which means they typically hire people who look like themselves. The BCBR is attempting to counteract this by establishing a network to connect Black executives with the opportunities that have historically eluded us.

I strongly believe the BCBR graduates will be change catalysts. The learnings, the network, and fellowship in the program has enhanced each of us. We have gained so much knowledge and insight into the power we possess to make a difference within our span of control. Most importantly, we understand and realize our large responsibility to help and influence future board and executive leaders from underrepresented groups; to be the change within our communities and organizations; AND to make the world how we see it…with LOVE!

Stay tuned for part 4 of my journey with the Black Corporate Board Readiness Program where I’ll share my final thoughts and takeaways. To learn more about the BCBR Program, visit their website.

Merritt McKenzie is a growth strategist in the healthcare field. With over 25 years of experience, he strives to build high performing diverse teams in organizations. Merritt has proven to be successful in sustaining high levels of employee morale and bringing teams together through common goals. As the Chief Operating Officer at Phoenix Physical Therapy, he works to create more effective and efficient operational strategies that both benefit the employees, patients and the company growth. A holistic leader, Merritt ensures high standards of patient care, business strategy and execution, team collaboration and organizational growth.

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