Navigating your professional relationships in the workplace can be quite the challenge, especially with the ever-changing landscapes of today’s workforce. But whether you’re working from home, in the office; whether you’re in a position of leadership or in a position of support, you never really stop learning how to grow in your interactions with your co-workers.

During the ESSENCE E-Suite experience at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, Walt Disney Outreach & Engagement Director Dayna Lee unpacked this very topic in an engaging conversation alongside Walt Disney Senior Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer Latondra Newton, Walt Disney Senior Vice President Carmen Smith, and Walt Disney Studios Vice President Jan Coleman.

Keep scrolling below to check out 4 things we learned from the panel about building authentic relationships in the workplace, and then check out the video above to hear the conversation in full.

For more of everything you missed at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit our official video content hub HERE.

Black Women Executives Share How They Build Authentic Relationships In The Workplace
Shot of a group of young businesswomen having a discussion in a modern office

Find Your Tribe
“At work, I sort of seek out tribes,” Latondra says. “We created this group that we call the 5 Heartbeats and, there are five women of color who get together and travel together, call each other to complain about whatever, celebrate each other and it’s just a tribe that I don’t know what I would do without.”

Black Women Executives Share How They Build Authentic Relationships In The Workplace
Businesswoman in wheelchair leading group discussion in creative office

Be A Leader Who Helps Your Team Unlock Their Full Potential
“I believe in the goodness of people and that people want to rise to their full potential, but you have to unlock it,” Latonra says. “So, I feel like I spend most of my time working with leaders and people around the country just unlocking their potential.”

Black Women Executives Share How They Build Authentic Relationships In The Workplace
Shot of two young designers working in an modern office

Listen
“I have learned that listening to my team is very important and I think it’s a very under-utilized characteristic,” Jan says. “I think a lot of times as leaders, you feel like you have to show up and be the loudest person in the room and the one actually coming up with the solutions but, I have learned to be a leader and show up for my team by just learning how to listen to what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. And a lot of times, what that has done for my team is really teach them how to problem-solve. It doesn’t have to be the way that I do something; it could be the way that you do it and it works as well.”

Black Women Executives Share How They Build Authentic Relationships In The Workplace
Female financial advisor in discussion with client in office conference room

Take An Intentional Approach To Mentorship
“Mentorship, I think it never ends,” Carmen says. “But, I think it’s also important to make sure that we have some agency even in that and we can select mentors that have the attributes and the skills that we want to have in our lives.”

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