Writers at Women in the Boardroom had the opportunity to interview some WIB members to gain insight into their personal and professional experiences and knowledge about antiracism, diversity and inclusion, and equity in the boardroom and corporate settings. We wanted to learn more about what efforts they and their organizations are making to effect change for women and men of color within these organizations and/or how they’ve perceived these changes as women of color.
This week we spoke with Lucille Douglas, CEO and President of LDouglas LLC. Lucille is an experienced Managing Director with an extensive history of working in the asset management industry. She’s formerly worked in asset management for corporations like DWS Group (formerly Deutsche Asset Management), and NeubergerBerman. Lucille has also dedicated 30+ years to prestigious Fortune100 and Fortune 500 domestic and international institutions, raised more than $8 billion of new assets over three years, across fixed income, global equity, and alternative investment products, organized, directed and won final presentations to global clients, and managed 30 institutional multi-strategy client relationships, totaling AUM of $15 billion and revenues of $17 million.
As you moved up the ladder, what did you feel the most jarring changes were in regard to diversity initiatives?
Simply, there was no diversity. I was the only managing director of color within asset management at my organization. I believe there were only five people of color at that level within my organization globally.
In what ways do you think your experience as a person of color has shaped your professional journey?
I know that my accomplishments have allowed me to be successful, and I’ve never had an experience in which I knew I was going to ranked because of my race. It could’ve been there but wasn’t blatant for me.
What does it mean to you to see others illustrate a commitment to diversity and antiracism?
I see it. People speak to me about it, but I want to know what they are going to be doing about it in six months. There has to be a demonstrated effort to seek equality. If you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk. Unfortunately, In my personal experience in the corporate setting, it just never happened.
What strategies have you witnessed as being used to respond to diversity challenges? Have they been effective? How might you change them?
I saw a lot of ideas around diversity strategies and initiatives that were simply never implemented. It would be more encouraging if I/we saw more success stories of Black and people of color. I don’t personally see tremendous numbers of stories of success for these people, and if I saw more of those, I would believe it.
How can organizations promote real change when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and antiracism and end the performative and “feel good” allyship that’s been the standard?
Organizations can and should promote and hold space for Black people. There are people of color who are extremely qualified. If HR is going to make a decision about a position, they need to actively recruit, consider and hold space for more people of color.
Do you feel comfortable sharing your experience with microaggressions in the corporate setting?
I was just speaking to someone two days ago about microaggressions, and we both had a similar experience. We were both told how well we articulate for Black people. That’s just one example. I’ve always worked in the financial industry, and many years ago I was working at a firm. At that time, I was working on the sales side of a training desk. Eventually, they brought in this guy who was in the armed forces, and they wanted him to succeed. He was white. So, I noticed that they were giving him more qualified sales leads and senior accounts and were ignoring my contributions. When I finally complained about the unequal treatment, I was retaliated against. It’s not a pleasant experience.
It’s no secret that as we move up the corporate ladder, there are few, if any, people of color at the board table, in the conference room, at a networking event, or in the office. What can organizations do, starting today, to actually diversify these environments?
If any one of these entities has made the statement, to be more inclusive, to hire more, to fund more, then they absolutely just need to do it. These organizations need to set a timeline and stick to it. Do it now. They should be more responsive in terms of the action items related to the desired outcome.