By John W. Coleman, Jr. MA MBA, Special to Inglewood Today
Last week’s revelations by former NFL coach Brian Flores are just another reminder of the limits that Black people encounter as we try to force this country to live up to its promise. Being the face of a team, franchise, or company is no different than leading a family, fraternity, or lodge in my opinion.
Black folks have never been a people that would not or could not lead, excel, or achieve and that line of thinking has always been flawed. Blacks comprise the majority of players in the league, and it is safe to say that they can develop talent from top to bottom in the sport. You should not have to be a “unicorn” to get a head coaching job when the league is powered by Black men. Black leaders are extremely intelligent and capable. In my twenty-six years in the private sector, I have observed Black leaders as those who are highly competent and display superior “soft” skills as compared to others from a management perspective.
My opinion of the NFL coaching search is the same as corporate America. Owners, Team Presidents, and General Managers are afraid to share their wealth with Black people. Ascending to senior level positions in an environment like the NFL leads to generational wealth that would in turn create a large, ongoing, and consistent group of Blacks in the 1% in this country and that matters.
Expanding the number of Black people that have means, access and power is important. Add a sense of social consciousness to that and we have the start of something special. A man can dream, right?
I use my own experience as the foundation for this opinion. While not comparing my role(s) or compensation to that of a NFL Head Coach, I have had multiple roles in leadership and senior leadership in the corporate world that has shaped my opinion. I knew that I was qualified and ready for all the roles that I obtained, but I never felt fully supported or welcomed into the “club.” I sensed a discomfort and fear from my colleagues as I worked in leadership roles in the pharmaceutical and health insurance space. I know that the lack of inclusion and collegiality was not due to my education or employment background as I attend the institutions and worked for companies that the majority admired. So, my only assessment was that it was due to my entering into a world that not many Black people enter within these organizations.
The takeaway for me is that we must continue to fight for these opportunities for qualified men and women. And we need to set our sights on new engagements and that we can pioneer and build into multi-billion-dollar organizations where we don’t have a fair chance to enter the higher ranks of the institution based on productivity and accomplishment.