By Black Men In America.com Staff
After what had already been a rewarding career in non-profits and local politics, Kwame Salter was recruited by Oscar Mayer company in Madison, Wisconsin. This was not your ordinary talent acquisition search and find. The President and CEO personally recruited Kwame to work at the company. During his tenure at Oscar Mayer, Kwame attracted the attention of several down-to-earth and savvy mentors, not because they had anything in common culturally, but because of his work ethic, talent, commitment to excellence and candor. As expected, Kwame rose through the ranks at Oscar Mayer, finally being promoted to an HR role at the parent company, Kraft Foods in Chicago. Again, Mr. Salter rose through the ranks. As leadership observed how he elevated each role, he was given more and more recognition and authority, ultimately being promoted to Senior Vice President of Human Resources. “I had earned a seat at the table of power where employee talent, development opportunities, career trajectories and promotions were determined. But I didn’t just sit at the table, I became an advocate for any talented employee who simply needed support, and spoke up for any talented employee being overlooked, sidelined, or derailed. And I was especially vigilant in advocating for Black leaders who would otherwise have been left on the cutting floor after placement decisions had been made. I used my power – softly, but with a big stick of knowledge, courage, commitment and compassion.”
Today, Kwame Salter is a writer, a frequently sought-after speaker on the topics of leadership and Black leadership, a coach to senior and emerging executives, and a tireless advocate for Blacks in leadership. In his new book, “BEING THE BOSS WHEN IT’S BLACK OVER WHITE,” Kwame reflects on his career as a retired Black Senior Vice President with an amazing career at what had been one of the largest food companies in America, Kraft Foods.
During his time at Kraft, and now during his active retirement, he’s been disappointed to observe the continuously abysmal statistics for Blacks in leadership. Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but just 3% of senior-level roles among U.S. companies. “I reflected on some of the challenges I and other Blacks in leadership positions faced and observed, not because of our competence—but because of our color. Some of these challenges were blatant, but most were of the more subtle, pernicious form that are the most challenging to address.”
Thus, this book was born out of a need to validate what every Black leader knows – that racism toward blacks in leadership is real. Further, it is to is air out some of the pernicious perceptions and beliefs that operate to make the position of leadership for Blacks unnecessarily challenging, and often, untenable. In addition, the goal of this book is to share what Kwame observed and learned about being a successful Black leader, including strategies for new and veteran Black leaders who are promoted to or occupy positions that require them to engage employees who often question their suitability for the role of being their black boss.
These are insights that Kwame Salter gained through incredible mentors, and from his elevated view as a Senior Vice President who had a powerful seat at the decision-making table.
When it comes to people, there are “smart” people, and then there are “very smart” people. Kwame Salter is among the “very smart,” group of people. In fact, we would say that Kwame Salter may be one of the “smartest” people available. Before you ask: “Why Kwame?” Think about this. Kwame Salter made it his business to know where all the “smart” people were located, and then he let them do their job. This philosophy is just one aspect of his genius.
We will be conducting an exclusive interview with Kwame Salter. YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT! Stay tuned. We will be sharing more information within the next few days.
Check out Kwame’s conversation with “The Black Eagle” Joe Madison on his radio show. Kwame and Joe discuss diversity in corporate America and the role African American’s play in it. Watch/listen below:
Check out Kwame’s conversation with “The Black Eagle” Joe Madison on his radio show as they talk about Kwame’s new book. Click on the link below.
Special thanks to Janice Fenn, Professional Resources Organization, for facilitating our contact with Mr. Salter and for assisting with our forthcoming interview.
An Exclusive Interview with Kwame Salter