By Victor Ochieng
Black women continue to face numerous challenges; having to face prejudice against the color of their skin and the battle against gender disparity. In the Fortune 500, for example, diversity was recently negatively titled after the only female African-American CEO exited the scene.
While all women across all races face challenges in the workplace, the road is always bumpier for Black women thus demanding extra efforts for personal success.
Below are six things Black women should do whenever they get an opportunity;
Being advocates for fellow Black women – Because of discriminatory practices in different workplaces, women who get an opportunity to serve are encouraged to act as women advocates. Unfortunately, this is mostly done by white women and less by African-American women. The truth is, “you’re your own advocate,” meaning as a Black woman, you have to stand up and advocate for yourself.
Speak up at every opportunity – Black women rarely get a platform where they can agitate for their rights. But even when such opportunities arise, not so many take advantage of it. This isn’t right. As a Black woman, whenever you’re invited to the table, speak up; make sure you’re heard. Black women are underrepresented in the employment sector, making only 8% of private sector jobs and 2% of leadership positions. Although a lot is at stake whenever an opportunity arises, you must understand that whatever you say should add value.
Mentor other Black women – The culture of every woman for herself is retrogressive. If you’re a woman of color and you’ve navigated the rough path to success, act as a mentor to other women. Groom women for similar or higher roles. By encouraging them and seeing them rise, it raises camaraderie and comfort at the workplace.
Be confident in your skin – When you put too much thought on your skin color and the prejudice against women of color, your performance is likely to be negatively impacted. Focus on delivering at the workplace and balancing between your person and the employer’s expectations.
Improve your skills and career – Whenever there is an opportunity to learn new things, seize it. At the same time, you need to be daring and ready to face up to new projects. This ensures you expand your knowledge, become more comfortable and eventually become the go-to person for consultation.
Work harder and smarter – It’s common knowledge that our biased systems cannot give you, a Black woman, an opportunity if you’re in the same level with a white woman. In fact, there is an infamous saying that as a Black woman, “you have to work twice as hard to have half as much.” A recent National Center For Education Statistics stated that black women are currently the most educated, which is a good thing. However, that doesn’t mean the employer now trusts you. Black women still have a lot of prove at the workplace. Work hard, be responsible, and show other black women that with focus, it can be done.