Being Black in corporate America has long been a secret struggle for many Texans. Whether it be the long-held tension of our hair in the office or the underlying bilingual abilities of every person of color that has to code switch to be seen as “up to par” with their caucasian counterparts. While many comedians and media outlets have earned laughs from the plight of employed minorities, one Houston-based entrepreneur aims to take these topics head on.
Zachary Nunn describes himself as a “multifaceted creative and professional consultant” based in Houston, Texas and has long had a passion for the Black experience. He’s stayed connected to the community around him through his work as a minister with his church, Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church and through his support of the Houston-area Black Lives Matter movement. In his latest endeavor, Living Corporate, Nunn aims to engage on a more personal level.
“So off top, we want to be the go-to affirmation and development space for people of color in the workplace, so we have a few things: Our podcast, writing and music,” Nunn said. “The specifics on the feel of each of those things have been defined by our founders. We're all young, black and reasonably educated. Meaning we'll drop a 21 Savage reference when it comes to salary negotiation —a show we called #SecuretheBag — but still hit you with some solid research about the widening wealth inequality gap. Our goal is to be as intentional and courageous as possible while also staying true to who we are as individuals, right? So you'll also see with our artwork. Shout out to David Dawkins for his work on that by the way - honestly the coldest one I know when it comes to logo design.”
Nunn created the brand after identifying the need for a place to express and deal with the common frustrations of being a person of color in corporate America.
“I've been one of a few or the only non-white person in virtually every space I've been engaged in since becoming a working adult,” Nunn explained. “More often than not, when I finally see another unicorn (black/brown person) at work and I try to broach the topics and they hit me with a side-eye because they're not conscious enough to care, too scared to speak up, or have deluded themselves that their camouflage of respectability will convince everyone around them that they aren't yanno... not white. That tension of otherness and managing microaggressions, having questions and frustrations but not knowing who to ask or where to vent was maddening over time, for me at least. So I wanted to create a space that courageously and intentionally tackled subjects that are relevant for people of color in the workplace. After a lot of brainstorming and eventually just going for it, Living Corporate was born.”
Living Corporate hasn’t been a solo endeavour however. Nunn managed to assemble a strong team with the help of Black girl magic. Though Nunn had the original inspiration, he knew that he couldn’t make it great alone.
“It's more fair to say we found one another, than me building anything. I'm in a groupme that's all black consultants - over 1,000 of us,” he said. “I posed the question ‘hey, who wants to help me make a podcast about black experiences in Corp America?’ a handful of amazing black women raised their hands. Though I had the initial seed of the idea, it was with their help that we refined our mission, expanded our audience to all non-white folk and landed on the name of platform, Living Corporate.”
The journey hasn’t been without its obstacles, but so far the Living Corporate team has remained driven through it all. From Nunn’s perspective, the biggest hurdle is simply finding time to get the job done.
“The biggest obstacle has been time. None of us on the team work regular 9-5s,” Nunn stated. “We're all tech consultants traveling Monday through Thursday, working 55+ hours a week. But thankfully, because we're a team, we've been able to keep the lines of communication open and figure out ways to pick up tasks when someone else's workload is heavier than expected.
Through taking on tough topics and addressing issues for people of color, Nunn has maintained his faith in a way that he believes has helped give him the strength to continue to shed light and give a voice to often overlooked minorities.
“My relationship with Jesus is still the center of my life priorities,” Nunn affirmed. “For me, what excited me about Jesus' Earthly ministry was His willingness to engage with the people, especially those society deemed unworthy by some measure or another. I believe Living Corporate connects to that in that we're seeking to love on folks through affirming their humanity by having discussions that put them as the main subject. So often, we see thinkpieces, profiles and entire platforms really built on the experiences of non-minorities. I see Living Corporate as an act of love and service to those who are often in some way ignored.”
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set including writing, design, and photography. Nick now resides in Austin, TX after earning a degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis on journalism from Texas A&M University—Commerce.