Greer Wilson, 59
President, Greer and Company
Ask Greer Wilson if she’s ever been discriminated against. “Oh God, yeah, everyday,” she responds. “It’s either gender or race.”
Of course, Wilson is in the business of diversity training, dealing with issues relating to oppression– racism, sexism, and homophobia– at schools, colleges, and corporations. And she admits that working with those issues every day can cause her to overreact. “Was that person rude or racist?” she often wonders.
For example, when someone says, “You always dress so nicely,” Wilson says she can’t help but think, “Why would I dress poorly if I’m a consultant?”
Wilson is convinced that being black and female has affected her business. “If I were a male with my gifts, I’d never have to look for work.”
Those gifts became apparent when she was studying piano at the primarily white Indiana University in Bloomington. “I understood I had a gift to help people communicate across cultures,” she recalls. “I realized I had an ability to talk about race and gender.”
Like other small business owners, she’s felt the sting of not getting a loan, and she still has to drum up business and maintain cash flow.
Catching up with Wilson isn’t easy. She recently spent two weeks at William Jewell College in Kansas. She did staff development at Chicago State. And she was at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she did get to incorporate her music background with diversity.
She’d advise a young woman starting out in business to develop a niche market, have a good support system, and to develop a plan of action. Most importantly, “Don’t allow ‘isms’ to keep you from where you want to be,” she says. And don’t forget to have fun at what you’re doing.Read more on: Greer and Company