In part 1 of this series, I shared my views on remaining relevant in the world of work; and making a name for yourself.
The world of corporate is not all moonlight and roses. It requires thick skin, determination and resilience (amongst other things). So, how do you remain relevant in a world that continues to evolve and sometimes, challenges you for being a young, black female professional?
Welcome to Part 2 of 3 of this series.
For those who may not be aware, I am a proudly Xhosa woman, and being African is something I am absolutely proud of. An African identity is something I want to engrain and promote in my child(ren), and hopefully they’ll do the same for generations to come.
I am an advocate for women empowerment, and I get excited when I see capable women occupying senior ranks within their respective industries – particularly the so-called male-dominated industries. There were times in my career, however, where I thought having a male boss would probably be better.
I’m not sure why certain women feel that it is necessary to oppress other women, I find it troublesome and limiting.
I’ve heard disturbing stories from my peers about this matter, where female bosses opress their female subordinates because they are competing and/or see them as a threat. I’ve made a few observations myself, and I find it rather disturbing. While this my not necessarily be the norm, it certainly happens in some professional environments.
This has to stop! I’m reminded of the following quote:
There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise…
Imagine if we were to constantly support each other as women, and stand together. We would be unstoppable! Also, those behind us are watching and learning from us, can we please be that generation that changes the status quo?!
RESPECT ME, RESPECT MY LANGUAGE
I remember a couple of years ago, a colleague of ours had joined our Cape Town office from our Port Elizabeth branch. Being the only Xhosa-speaking person in the office for a while, I was quite pleased when I learnt that I’d have a fellow Xhosa speaking colleague in the office.
Needless to say, we developed a friendship. 🙂
We had our usual Xhosa chats one day in the office, and a manger actually called me aside and expressed her concern about us speaking Xhosa in the office. We were asked to tone it down, basically. My response was that we will not tone it down, as these are private conversations between two individuals. We were servicing our clients professionally, in the business language, which was English (where necessary), and the same applied in other forums such as meetings, presentations etc. Again, this was not unique to us. My peers have shared similar incidents.
I can never accept that level of disrespect – not any day.
A couple of years ago, I received a promotion at work. I remained within the same Business Unit, however the promotion meant I’d move to a slightly different division. I was excited because the promotion was quite big for me, and I had really dedicated myself to my work. A female colleague of mine (who I thought was my friend) said to me, and I quote “Oh, you know you got the job because you’re black, right?”.
I was shocked! I didn’t respond. I took a deep breath in, and walked away. A day or two later, I expressed my views on this matter to this individual and she apologised.
So, how do I deal with negative comments or subtle racism?
Firstly, I don’t retaliate with racism. I deal with the issue at hand and move on. I honestly don’t have time to wallow in negativity, especially not at work.
Khanyi Dhlomo once said that, we need challenges in life in order to reach the ultimate goal. Humiliations are necessary at times to peel out the person you’re supposed to be. And therefore, negative comments do not discourage me. They may pause me for a bit, however they motivate me to grow into a better version of myself.
Richard Mkhondo, Corporate Affairs Executive writes: “Experience of racism itself is stressful. When experienced in the work context, racism impacts well-being and, therefore, poses a threat to financial viability.”
Life in corporte is generally not always easy, my advice is do your best, and you will be rewarded accordingly. Nobody can overlook a consistent, hard-working person. Let your work speak for itself – show up in excellence.
Shut out the noise, and you’ll see.
Until next time, love and light.