“You have to be twice as good as them to even get a seat at the table.”
“You know, we have to switch it up, and change our voice a little. It’s called code switching.”
“Girl, now you know you can’t wear your hair like that to work!”
UPDATE: No, you don’t have to fake it until you make it. They hired you for you, not who you think they think you should be. This blog post was written to encourage you to be your ENTIRE SELF in order to get ahead in your professional career. After all, we live in a new day that celebrates a person’s skill set based on their skill set, not the color of their skin. Yes, I am an optimist. But, my side hustle landed me my dream job.
This blog website that you’re reading right now— served as my creative resume for my current dream job.
Let that marinate.
How many of us have been encouraged to follow the unwritten, universal guide on “How to Make it as a Black Person in White America?” Imagine this, here we are 50+ years post-civil rights movement, still preaching to fellow POC to act less-black in order to get ahead. It’s 2017, and a lot of these same rules are being told all over, and it’s time to debunk this myth.
I was inspired to write on this topic after reading an article this summer on Glamour titled: Uber’s New Exec Bozoma Saint John on Sexism, Embracing Fear, and Bringing Her ‘Whole Self’ to Work
At first read, I thought yaaaaas!!! She looks like me, thinks like me, and is the HBIC at Uber #GOALS But after reading further, a lightbulb went off: we’ve been doing this whole career thing all wrong! Here she is, a real black woman (melanin-rich, natural hairstyle and all) encouraging sisters to frankly—stop thinking you have to act white to get ahead, sis. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think, here’s my favorite quote:
I love that meme: Behind every successful woman, there’s a group text hyping her up. Well, my group text is full of badass broads cheering me along!
–Bozoma Saint John
Then, I came across yet another public outcry to Black America this week, via Blavity titled How Code Switching Is Turning Black People Into Method Actors. Yet again, a critical analysis of where we went wrong. Look, I’m not here to speak technically, I’m here to speak frankly: I’m over trying to impress, my oppressor.
I’m over trying to impress, my oppressor.
Thing is, we have to shift our mindset from the same one that had us in shackles over 400 years ago, ya feel me? There are entire job titles, Chief Cultural Officer, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, Chief This Is How To Relate to The Culture— created to bridge the gap between the business and the people who support them. Like, did you see the epic pizza twitter beef last week? DiGiorno won.
They (brands) want in on this cultural shift from the majority, to the minority. They want the spice that makes people engage. They want the magical touch–that makes people want to learn more about your project, product, or amazing service. They want passionate storytellers, not the cookie cutter stuff. That’s where the doors of opportunity are pushed—-no forced, wide open! The power shift has gone from the brand to the consumer. Thanks to the digital age, the playing field is slowly, but surely, leveling out. We’re seeing it with our own eyes.
67% of millennials say their goals include starting a business, while only 13% say they want to climb the corporate ladder.
According to a recent article in Forbes: 67% percent of the nation’s future workforce wants to, in fact, employ itself. We are the Founders, CEOs, and Brand Advocates of our own businesses–of course, we can be ourselves (hint: Giselle Ave.). Now I know this notion of individualism doesn’t translate into ALL job industries. But, it’s interesting to note how much influence this same culture has on other industries.
Another example of this is in Molly’s character on one my of FAVE SHOWS HBO’s INSECURE. In Season 1, Molly welcomed a fellow black girl colleague in the office with open arms. But, when the new girl started acting ghetto–Molly took her to the side and said, sis, tone it down a bit. New girl was offended, Molly’s advice backfired. Later on in that episode, the firm’s leadership ended up letting the new girl know she needed to tone it down as well. They called it a bad culture fit.
I admit, this was probably the best way for this particular law firm to remain true to its culture, but let’s consider the bigger picture: Issa new day. The culture is actually highly sought after and, frankly separates the most desirable workplaces from the least desirable workplaces. Employees are humans, not mindless drones here to make money. We want more out of life. If companies don’t shift, we will simply find alternative routes, or create them.
So, the cat’s out the bag. Being your authentic self is the major key to success in your professional career. Stop being fake, just be yourself. Your personality is what makes you IRREPLACABLE!
For the record, I said Stay Woke durnig our team meeting earlier this week, I am totally about this life.
What do you think?
Are you ready to bring your entire self to work?
Keeping it 100, as usual,