Devona Williams Ph.D. – President/CEO, Goeins-Williams Associates, Inc. Performance Management Consultant, Facilitator, Author, Speaker
“I’ve been thrown out of my own office, including my stint in the White House where I had an office. I was told to come out from behind the desk—that I didn’t belong there.”
Devona gave many examples of the challenges of being a woman of color, and a businesswoman of color in America, but podcast notes simply do not convey it properly–you’ll have to listen for yourself and I implore you to do so.
She is a highly educated, experienced, successful businesswoman who specializes in solving problems regarding performance and inclusion. She’s been in business for 31 years and even had an office in the White House for a while.
This was a particularly moving and enlightening episode for me as an interviewer. I can’t imagine anyone not being impressed with this woman. I know I was.
- Devona wanted to be in business since she was 8 years old
- She has been a performance consultant for 31 years
- Her company is Goeins-Williams. They work on the human aspects and challenges of organizations.
- She evaluates the work environment to uncover the source of the problem(s)
- Her company’s mantra: People- Profits- Performance
- She works within the corporate, medical industry and government sectors
- Much of her work lately revolves around inclusion and diversity
- At time marker 16:00, we talked about being a black businesswoman and why that has its own set of challenges and expectations, and then a little later on– Dr. Devona went on to explain, so very eloquently that whenever a person violates the social expectations of where that person belongs, or where they should be, that’s when there’s a problem. It’s usually by people who have had little experience with that particular group, or they make assumptions about their intelligence or their abilities or whether or not they’re appropriate for, or a good fit for that particular job or thing.
- She gave examples of how she was told that she “wasn’t appropriate for the job” just because she was black.
- She has been thrown out of her own office in the White House because someone assumed she didn’t belong there because of her skin color.
- She gave other examples of non-business bigotry such as, Not being able to flag a cab in Boston.
- In her own house, she has answered the door and been asked to get the “lady of the house.”
- She readily admits to “Driving while black.” [sarcasm intended]
- Bigotry is systemic in our culture
- Note from Rob: She went on to give more examples, but podcast notes simply do not convey it properly–you’ll have to listen for yourself and I implore you to do so.
- Her parents gave her tools to deal with the bigotry.
- Unconscious and conscience bias is very prevalent and is very much in place.
- There is a “caste system” in this country. The darker the skin color, the more discrimination they face.
- We discussed whether the Black Lives Matter movement was changing things or was just the cause of the day?
- On a more hopeful note, she feels strongly that the new generation has a very different attitude towards race and gender and that things are improving.
- We talked about her book, The Intentional Consultant and what’s involved to grow and sustain a business, which is what her book is about.
- I asked her, “What was the biggest lesson you’ve learned?” “Never hire the wife of a client.”
- Her final thought: Be kind and loving to one another.
Resources and Contact Info
The Intentional Consultant: How to grow a sustainable consulting practice.
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