A CEO Once Told Me I Was Not The Right Fit

True Story. Nineteen years ago, I interviewed for a leadership role at a company. After meeting with several executives who wholeheartedly supported my candidacy, the CEO rejected me. He looked me in the eye and said, “Although you have impressive marketing and brand experience, I am afraid you are not the right fit.” What he was really saying was that his all- white, male team of twenty-somethings would have a problem reporting to a Black woman – regardless of how qualified I was for the job.

At the time, I felt the CEO’s concerns were legitimate, believing he had to make the best decision for the team and the company. There are two things I want to say about that. First, nineteen years later I know better – that decision was biased, cowardly and cost that CEO an intelligent, hard-working, phenomenal employee. Second, nineteen years later, I am so happy he decided to reject me. That was a pivotal moment that launched an era. That very day changed my life and the lives of countless other women. That one rejection fuelled a passion that ultimately led me here –running a successful media company dedicated to empowering women professionals.

In February 2005, I launched my media company and the past 19 years have exceeded my dreams. Through magazines, conferences, and workshops, I’ve dedicated my life and my career to advancing women leaders of all races, cultures, and backgrounds, and even expanded my offerings to fostering inclusion through DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives. Though rewarding, it hasn’t been easy. With passion, education, and business savvy, I’ve weathered the storms all businesses face.

In 2005 I had envisioned by 2025 we would have reached gender equality, and it would be the end of an era. As I approach my company’s 20-year mark, I am more convinced than ever that this isn’t the end of an era but the start of a new one. Equal opportunity and respect for women and other marginalized groups – our mission from the beginning – are more threatened than ever. So, we are at the cusp of yet another pivotal moment. We can either give up or we can step up. I for one am committed to stepping up and meeting the demands of this next chapter head on. The past nineteen years have shown me that one closed door is just an opportunity to open a new one, to stay resilient, to turn challenges into opportunities and to follow your purpose. The journey may be longer than expected, but the destination makes it worthwhile.

I know there are thousands of women who have similar stories. Stories of triumph in the face of adversity. Stories of passion-driven purpose and prosperity. Stories of courage – of leaders and companies that have been on this journey with us. And we want to hear them all!

In celebration of Diversity Woman Media’s 19th anniversary this month, we are launching our Stories of Triumph Campaign! Visit diversitywoman.com and CLICK ON “Stories of Triumph Campaign” to learn more about the campaign and how to lend your story to the movement.

Celebrating 19 Years! Join us for the celebration and for an opportunity to have your success story featured in Diversity Woman Magazine!

Successfully yours!
Dr. Sheila Robinson
Chief Publishing Executive

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