How Black Women Really Get Ahead
What happens when you work for someone who looks like you — and she’s a woman? Relief? Because you finally have a sister in the office to relate with. Until…
She pulls you aside for being late, even though she gave your White colleague, Katie, a pass just last week. The only difference? You were picking up your kid. And Katie was giving her grandmother a ride.
Why is your boss harder on you? Is it because…
She’s Competing with You?
Because only one Black woman can make it to the top? And it’s going to be HER. That’s why she’s treating you differently. So you can’t trust her, you can’t be yourself around her, and you’re certainly NOT giving her a pass for anything. Next time she’s late, you’re going straight to upper management to report her.
Think pushing her down is going to help YOU up?
How Black Women Really Get Ahead
“We think that we're giving the office tea, and that we're talking down. But when you talk down on me, when you bring me down, when you bring your other sisters and brothers that work with you down — we're just suppressing the greatness that we have within us.” — Erikka Tiffani Wells, Co-Founder of Women of Color Automotive Network (WOCAN)
Erikka Tiffani Wells joined me on Being Brown at Work Live recently to SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT:
Your boss is harder on you because the system is harder for you.
Sure. Society is changing, but it hasn’t done a 180 yet. Your playing field? It’s not level. It’s not inclusive. It’s not equal. And YOU don’t get 2nd chances in this game.
“Well, I hired a Black person once, and it didn't work out,” is what a White member of upper management once told Wells.
“As if to say that that one person could have some type of representation on the whole black America,” Wells recalls thinking of the comment.
And it’s this insider knowledge that made Wells harder on the Black women (and men) she managed in the automotive industry. Because she knew the White majority running the show already expected her employees to fail. All they needed was proof to reinforce the stereotypes shaping their biases.
Proof like coming in late to work or slacking off on the job.
That’s why she pushed her employees to show up and give 110%. Every. Single. Day. So their work ethic would be the last thing that stopped them from rising in their careers, and bringing their community up with them.
Build the House of Progress Together
You want to know one advantage your boss does have on you?
Because she’s walked this path before you. Take Wells’ friend and co-founder of WOCAN, Kerri Wise, for example. She’s the Chief Marketing Officer for a Fortune 500 company and a 20-year veteran of the automotive industry. She’s also Wells’ mentor.
“[She] climbed through windows so I can walk through doors,” said Wells.
And you? You will build the house of progress.
But not all by yourself.
You have to work with (not against) your sisters and brothers. Only then can you ALL sit at the table and eat.
Find Your Allies
How can you make your boss and coworkers allies, especially when you don’t trust them enough to even be yourself at work?
Look at the common denominator: YOU.
If everywhere you go, you find the same resistance to trusting people enough to show up authentically, then you have some deep, personal work to do. And I can help. Book your 1-on-1 with me today.