Organizational Culture Can Be More Inclusive for Black Employees

Topic(s): diversity
Publication: Harvard Business School Publishing
Article: Creating an Organizational Culture That’s More Inclusive for Black Employees
Authors: Adia Harvey Wingfield
Reviewed by: Daisy Rowser-Grier

What does it take to make an organizational culture more appealing and trusting for Black employees? Researchers are finding that corporate cultures can often lead to racial imbalance, leaving Black employees feeling disempowered or oppressed. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, the author (Harvey Wingfield, 2023) identifies two attributes that guide the success of Black employees.


An organization does not have to come off as alienating to Black employees. Organizational cultures can shift to connect instead of separate, to understand instead of avoid, and to invite instead of alienate. The author reflects on her recent book Gray Areas: How the Way We Work Perpetuates Racism and What We Can Do to Fix It, and speaks of Darren, one of the seven Black workers profiled in the book. The author talks about the difference in organizational culture Darren experienced in his previous job and how it differs from the current institution he now works for

The author says that companies that focus on the collective aspect of work, such as teamwork, impact the success of Black employees, especially in a market-focused culture that is typically centered on hierarchy. The author also acknowledges the importance of recognizing Black employees for their work. Organizational atmospheres that recognize Black employees and support their work can lead to greater inclusivity.


Creating an environment that is fueled by teamwork and recognition of contributions can lead to the betterment of Black employees. In addition, shifting company cultures can potentially increase the number of Black people in leadership positions. Ultimately, having tough conversations in the workplace opens doors and educates people for the better.


Image credit: istockphoto/Nadzeya_Dzivakova