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Gen Z and Racial Equity in the Workplace

Courageous Conversations Pannelists

A Courageous Conversation Recap

A few weeks ago, Greene Resources had the opportunity to attend a Courageous Conversation hosted by the Raleigh Chamber about Recruiting and Retaining Young Black Talent. This event featured speaker Raven Solomon of Raven Solomon Enterprises, as well as a panel of young local leaders: Melanie Flowers, SGA President NC State University, Ian Finley, SGA President, Shaw University, Greear Webb, Student Activist, UNC Chapel Hill, and Moderator, Danya Perry, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity of the Raleigh Chamber.

A recent McKinsey study, Race in the Workplace, offered advice for recruiting and retaining Black Gen Z Talent. McKinsey suggested that the three key pillars to intentionally diversifying your workforce are: representation, a commitment to DEI, and showing support and belonging to your employees. This study guided the panelists’ conversation during this impactful and honest Courageous Conversation.


Raven Solomon of Raven Solomon Enterprises shared that “77% of GenZ workers said that a company’s level of diversity affects their decisions to work there.” Ian Finley, SGA President of Shaw University, communicated the importance of understanding the culture of the people you are hoping to bring onto your team. He stressed that when he is looking to apply for a job, he immediately notices companies that want to see him grow by providing access and opportunities to grow and learn within the organization. Melanie Flowers, SGA President of NC State University agreed with Ian’s sentiments by communicating that she feels the most seen in an organization with people who she identifies with in positions above her. Melanie expressed her fear of entering an organization where she will have to be the first or only woman of color to break through the barrier of high-level roles.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Theodora Smith, Greene Resources’ Human Resources Manager noted that her biggest takeaway from this Courageous Conversation was supporting Generation Z and their values in the workplace. In addition, Cassandra McNeil, a Search Consultant at Greene noted that it is essential for employers to provide layered support for Black Gen Z individuals. Whether it is providing opportunities to grow in the community, through mentorship or sponsorship, it is crucial to show commitment to DEI through actions rather than stopping at a statement. During the panel, Melanie commented that it is easy for her to notice when a company is silent. She said, “People [and companies] have platforms, and when they go unused, it’s definitely heard.”

Support and Belonging

“You cannot ask someone to leave part of their identity at the door,” Raven Solomon explained. Inclusion for each individual is what leads to equality. Karah Lizote, a Recruiting Specialist at Greene reflected on this Courageous Conversation by noting how impactful this part of the conversation was for her. Karah noted, “We cannot discourage Gen Z from letting their passion show through in the workplace…Inclusion and belonging are how we are going to recruit and retain top Black Gen Z talent.”

Danya Perry wrapped up this discussion by urging employers to shift culture language from encouraging applicants to be a “culture fit” and rather to be a “culture addition,” insinuating that it is far more important for a person to add to the culture of a work community, rather than being forced to fit a pre-existing culture mold.

We are so thankful for the Triangle DEI Alliance offering programs such as Courageous Conversations. The Triangle DEI Alliance hosts a variety of different events throughout the year, including: We Connect, Black Business Momentum, Hispanic Business Momentum, Courageous Conversations, and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Conference. For all of these events and more about the Triangle DEI Alliance, visit their website at triangledei.org.


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