Deneen Grant wants to help businesses succeed. In her eyes, that success is dependent on leadership.
During her 18 years working in human resources, Grant observed the influence leaders have on their organizations and recognized the need to develop a solution that aligns leadership, culture, and strategy.
In 2012, her desire to unify organizations led her to create her own business, Progressive Leadership Group, where she now helps companies as a leadership strategist.
“I’ve worked inside organizations and seen that leaders don’t come knowing what their role is, much less how to perform it,” Grant said. “If your leadership isn’t working toward a shared vision, the organization will not be successful.”
Now, she’s taken to help businesses succeed in an additional way — through an anti-racism program.
Following the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests across America, Grant saw how organizations responded and grew frustrated.
While many organizations publicly stated their solidarity with the Black community and their promise to provide diversity training for their staff, Grant said they were not fully understanding the issue.
“I’ve been frustrated as I’ve seen the many corporate platitudes and messages of Black Lives Matter support because it really doesn’t do anything meaningful,” she said. “I watched organizations respond to clearly black-and-white racism with more diversity training. Diversity training is not going to solve (systemic racism).”
She recognized that the intentions of these organizations were honorable. But honorable intentions don’t make organizations impervious to criticism.
“I believe in the heart of these people and organizations,” she said. “They want to help. They want to do better. They just don’t know how yet.”
Drawing upon her skills as a leadership strategist, Grant quickly recognized she could offer an anti-racism program herself: The Progressive Anti-Racism Program is an addition to the work she offers through Progressive Leadership Group.
While Grant is not a diversity expert or trainer, her knowledge and skills as a leadership consultant, coupled with her experience as a Black woman, allow her to offer organizations an opportunity to become actively anti-racist.
“I want to provide leaders with some actionable ways to begin a journey to anti-racism,” she said.
Her program involves education, awareness, and action. Through it, she helps educate organizations on the history of systemic racism, how it has evolved, and how it affects Black people today. Through this education, she said, organizations can become aware of any unconscious biases and anti-Black practices they might have, as well as how the systems and procedures currently in place can support racism.
Then, the organization can identify changes to make. Those changes could include altering company policies, adjusting requirements for leadership, and prioritizing racial diversity across employees and leaders, among others.
Grant said her program is not meant to shame or punish companies but rather to offer education and tools to actively be anti-racist.
“The challenge of developing an anti-racism program has been being able to create something that’s going to get a point across but without offending people,” Grant said. “This topic really speaks to my heart. It’s such an uncharted territory, and no one is really doing this.”
Though Grant has administered the Progressive Anti-Racism Program with one organization so far, she said she feels she’s proved that she can help individuals and organizations take the first step.
“I feel committed to this program because I know that I have created something valuable. I allowed a space for people to have honest conversation about their biases. I brought awareness and understanding about the history of anti-Black systemic racism,” she said. “I know organizations need this help, and I want to help as many organizations as I possibly can.”
To learn more about Grant and her Progressive Anti-Racism Program, visit progressive-leadership.com.