It is not easy being a woman in the working world. It is even harder being a woman of color. Movement for women of color up the corporate ladder and into leadership positions has remained relatively stagnant over recent years. To make matters even more complicated, we are more likely to be targeted for mistreatment, disrespect, and micro-aggressions. Given this information, it is no wonder job stress and burnout are at high levels. Workplace dissatisfaction is higher for women of color than their white counterparts. And let’s save the talk about our male counterpart comparisons for another day.
While this sounds like a setup for failure, these tips can help change the narrative to favor success.
When you feel uncomfortable, it can be quite draining to function day in and day out at work. Look for co-workers, whether it be in your department, in your building, or in your company, who look like you. Join a resource group to promote safe spaces with those who identify with you. It’s amazing how much easier it can be to balance the workplace when you feel a sense of belonging and community. If your company does not have such a group, be your own leader and create one! Bring your allies together and create a beautiful support system to lean on when times are tough. Change your space, not yourself.
Own Your Power
Sometimes being the minority coworker can seem like a negative. Change this narrative. Use your unique perspective as a superpower on the job. Your lens could be vastly different from your coworkers who may not share your experiences and background. No one else in the room or at the table has what you have.
Flex Your Muscle
You may find it hard to stand your ground and assert yourself. This can be hard for anyone, let alone a woman of color, in any job. As you become more comfortable owning your power, start translating that into confidence in conversations, negotiations, and meetings. None of this will happen overnight, so practice will definitely make perfect. Practice first with trusted family and friends. This is also where that ally network can be a great resource to bounce ideas off of.
Seek Out a Role Model
While there are limited women of color in top positions, they do exist. Find someone who inspires you, who is a trailblazer in their own career, and who can be a guiding force for your own aspirations. If it’s someone local to you, try to reach out and network with them. Use them as a resource for navigating your experiences. Maybe it’s someone a little more out of reach. Do your research and learn how this person navigated their career. Take helpful tidbits of knowledge and let that motivate you on your path.
Life today, post-pandemic and in these racially charged times, can be truly stressful and disheartening many days. Listen to any red flags your body is giving you in order to be proactive rather than reactive. You are no good to yourself if you are in crisis mode. Take breathing breaks during the work day when you feel higher stress levels. Use guided breathing techniques or even a mantra like inhaling the good and exhaling that which you want to leave behind.
Movement is also important in preparing your body for whatever work challenges may be ahead. Exercise is proven to reduce the tension that work may be causing you. Yoga and meditation are great tools to create a mind-body connection promoting owning your strength. There are no right or wrongs in this department. Find something that works for you.