During the 1970’s and 1980’s, integration of corporate settings was just getting started. Companies would hire a “Negro” and place him or her in a highly visible job, usually with little real responsibilities. The strategy was to make sure the individual was indeed “highly visible”, signaling the company’s compliance with changing laws and commitment to “equal opportunity”. More importantly, IN USING THE HIGHLY VISIBLE NEGRO (HVN) STRATEGY, COMPANIES COULD HOLD AT BAY THOSE WHO WOULD ATTACK THEIR REAL RECORD OF INCLUSION.
A lot has changed since the 70’s and 80’s. A lot remains the same. PEOPLE OF COLOR AND WOMEN ARE STILL TODAY PLACED IN POSITIONS FOR “VISIBILITY” PURPOSES. They have no real responsibility or authority inside the organization, but their titles and visibility often elevate them with external audiences and sometimes with fellow employees. They are tokens, hood ornaments, figureheads.
EVERY WOMAN OR PERSON OF COLOR IN A HIGHLY VISIBLE POSITION IS CERTAINLY NOT A TOKEN. Many are hired for their legitimate skill sets, placed in real jobs, and held accountable for delivering real results.
Do you have a real job or are you a token? How can you tell?
IF EVERYONE WHO HAD THE JOB BEFORE YOU- ESPECIALLY IF THEY WERE WHITE MEN – WAS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR DELIVERING A THRU Z RESULTS, AND YOU ARE ONLY EXPECTED TO DELIVER A THRU C after getting approval, you are at best a token and at worse seen as lacking skills to do the job. If the job you have has been made up just for you, and the work has nothing to do with the real business of the organization, you must ask yourself why you are getting a paycheck.
If you’ve been put in a job as a token, can you do anything about it? Can you turn a negative into a positive? I think so.
EVEN IF THOSE WHO SELECTED YOU FOR THE JOB INTENDED FOR IT TO BE A TOKEN POSITION, YOU MUST NOT BEHAVE AS A TOKEN. EXERCISE AND OWN ALL RESPONSIBILITES, FULL AUTHORITY, ALL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEDGES OF THE JOB YOU HOLD. Make no apologies!
YOU CAN CHOOSE OR CHOOSE NOT TO ACCEPT LABELS OTHERS PLACE ON YOU.
WORRYING IF RACE OR GENDER MADE YOU THE TOP CANDIDATE FOR THE JOB IS A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.
ONCE YOU HAVE THE JOB, DO THE JOB! Do the job not to meet the expectations of those who have low or no expectations for your success. Do the job as the job ought be done by ANY capable, responsible person. Do the job to the highest standards, standards you set for yourself.
BE PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO PLACED YOU IN THE JOB AS A TOKEN, TO TRY TO REIN YOU IN ONCE YOU START DOING THE REAL JOB.
KEEP DOING THE REAL JOB. DELIVER RESULTS!