Racial Inequity and White Privilege in the Coaching relationship

Updated: May 8, 2021

I co-facilitated a conversation this week with Ashridge coaches #tammytawadros #preetacooley to explore racial inequity and white privilege in the coaching relationship. It was a conversation to raise awareness and provoke what is in essence a very personal journey of self exploration, assumptions and behaviour relating to race in the coaching relationship. It made me question the responsibility as coaches to be doing this work – particularly in the white community – and what that work is.

There are few times when I have fundamentally reconsidered the foundations of my practice but this is one of them. I can only speak for myself. I don’t pretend or try to speak for others but I realise I needed to get clear on my standards in relation to race inequity. As coaches, the issue of race, power and privilege shows up in how we are ‘matched’, how we contract and then work with a coachee and possibly wider client organisation. The issue of race inequity and white privilege is too important for us to stay blind and silent to. We need to move beyond good intention to action for there to be an impact. These are my actions as an anti-racist coach: – To educate myself of the experience of black people and people of colour in our organisations and society. There are so many resources available we really can’t ask for more – we just need to do the work.

– To broaden my perspective, and shine a light on the assumptions I make from my history and background in relation to race, and understand how these may influence my mindset and practice.

– To recognise and explore the edges of my practice in working with race (my discomforts, where I avoid or disaffirm, where I take space rather than give it etc)

– To acknowledge my emotional response as a white coach and ensure I am appropriately contained, recognising what is mine and what is not. Including recognising my guilt from complicity, yet not being paralysed or stuck by it.

– To widen the conversation as a community to support shared learning and impact more broadly and responding to some of the big questions around what is appropriate in this space (who does it serve, who/what does it protect) There are many more emerging for me, and I can’t claim to have the answers, some of which are personal and some of which relate to the role and dynamic of coach/coachee. One thing I am sure of is that the journey is easier when we do it together, rather than in isolation (the echo chambers have a habit of drowning out the difference…) I hope this may help some in my fellow white population as we journey together. What have been your learning’s in this space that might be helpful to share? What acts can you commit to eliminate racial inequity? #coaching #leadership #racialinequity #whiteprivilege #tammytawadros #preetacooley #alisonreynolds #charlottesills #ashridge

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