Recently I have had some unexpected family illness which has changed my life. Sleep does not come easy so I found myself watching Chris Rock very late one night last week. Every time I watch him, I always wonder why other comedians who swear less than he does turn me off but I always find myself unable to change channels when he is on. Answer is I watch him not necessarily for the comedy but that he is so right on so many things, no matter how hard it is to hear.
Today I want to focus on a line he said ‘A black person has to fly to get to where a white person only walks to’. Over the years, I have noticed a lot of backlash anytime racism has been claimed. This week, there is a story about a well known city firm being sued for racism by an employee who despite earning nearly a million pounds a year, claims that he was poorly paid compared to his peers. 95% of the comments on that story were against him and called him greedy.
What stood out for me in the case mentioned was that the employyee’s appraisal was constantly excellent, he was regularly promoted and was even head of his division. Yet he was paid less than his peers and not given the big important accounts. Apart from the large salary I completely understand where he is coming from.
For years in a corporate role, I had superb appraisals. I was commended highly within my organisation, I was got a promotion every 2 years. On paper I was doing very well and really had nothing to complain about. Lets take a closer look at my experience –
-Compared to others in similar jobs I was poorly paid
-After these great appraisals, a team of the apprasees would get together to discuss pay rises, my boss would always come back with a reason why when compared to some average person who had done a mediocre job I had received similar grading to them.
-Even though I was promoted, the jobs where not critically important compared to a jobs other people who was not deemed as good got.
-I embarked on an MBA, which they refused to pay for but was told that when I got it I could apply for a certain senior job that no one who was at that scale at that time had an MBA. Not even their bosses had one!
-I continued to work my socks off, network to death and 12 years on I resigned. I got taken out to lunch by one of the directors to try to keep with more empty promises and the only thing I remember of that afternoon was his stupid question to me of ‘Why did you not come to me and say why you were unhappy?’ I constantly discussed the inequality with different bosses not ever say it was about race but in every appraisal I would fight my corner in the most professional way possible. What was I expected to do? Cry racism and be branded as having a chip on my shoulder. Even when I looked at my record on paper, I doubted myself! At the end of the day I just got exhausted with the situation.
Since then over the last 4 years I have worked for me and I wanted to say the imbalance continues….
– I have a business partner from India. She is the one who is looked at every time we are together at a business meeting. We joke that she is higher up on the food chain to me but on a more serious note it makes for many uncomfortable times. Recently, after I had explained our venture. someone actually turned to her in jest saying ‘I assume you are the brains here and she puts the ideas forward’. I was stunned to silence! She was not though and made her point very and and put him in his place. Similar in meetings with our bank, our business manger never really addresses me!
– I yet have to come across black people in business who can stand up and say —-
—I failed a few times but look where I am – I made it.
–I have been bankrupt but it was a good lesson and here I am, a millionaire
–I lost everything in my forties but hey 5 years on I am so successful.
We never seem to get the second chances. Get it right first time or not at all. Now I am not saying that is true for everyone but if we took an average number I think I can guess that the number of black people on the list would be tiny and focussed on certain industries not general business.
Back to Chris Rock, the millionaire comedian, who lives in the same area as millionaire JZ and millionaire Eddie Murphy and miliionaire May J Blige. All very famous in their own right. Who is Chris Rock’s neighbour…a white dentist! As he says himself, a black dentist would have to invent teeth to get to live in that area!
It is not about whether we make it anymore it is who we are level with even when we try to!
As always with my post I would really like to be proven wrong as then maybe life is not as tough out there for us! Please try!