If you look at the statistics around women of color at work, whether in corporate careers or businesses, the related rates of success are dismal. It is obvious that even when we make it, only a few of us get to reach to the pinnacle of success. Only a few of us get to attain the peaks of corporations, or climb to the summits of business. Where every other woman faces a glass ceiling, we face concrete walls. Where one of us succeeds, thousands are lagging behind.
While there is a notable lack of opportunities for women of color at work, there are also destructive mindsets that continuously keep us behind. One of these can be summarized in these few words: Not Enough Room for all of us.
It’s a mindset rooted in scarcity that teaches us that there can never be enough opportunities for more than a handful of us. As a result, it pits us against each other, leaving us to compete for the “Queen Bee” spot at the top of whatever ladder we may find ourselves on. The result? Less women of color in position of power and influence coupled with a growing sense of mistrust and lack of collaboration among us.
Changing our reality starts with changing our mindsets from a place of scarcity to one of abundance. Contrary to what society seems to suggest, there is enough room for women of color to rise in all career or business areas. Diversity is the conduit of innovation and progress. However, it starts with us refraining from believing that there are limited spots for success, and instead claiming and creating the spaces and opportunities we need to flourish.
Here are a few ways we can as women of color leave the “Not Enough Room for all of us” mindset behind and move forward in our lives, careers or businesses:
Work on ourselves
As women of color at work, we face unique challenges. From facing a blatant lack of diversity at work to sometimes overt discrimination, the obstacles are many. Which also requires us to be more prepared to face these roadblocks mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.
Taking care of ourselves is a must. Working on our mindsets is indispensable. This means being willing to take time aside to develop ourselves through adequate education, training and self-improvement. It means investing in the curriculums, books, coaches and programs to strive in our careers, businesses and lives.
Foster increased collaboration between women of color
As women in general, it can be hard to trust others, especially other women. Popular mindsets and social stereotypes portrayed in mainstream and social media have us believing in competition rather than collaboration.
It is up to us to fight these stereotypes and seek increased collaboration opportunities between women of color. It may require us to step outside of our comfort zones or challenge pre-conceived notions we may have been raised with. However, it’s only through collaboration that we can get to make a real difference.
Increase mentorship opportunities
One of the main reasons why women in general, and women of color in particular, don’t reach higher levels in their careers or businesses, is lack of mentorship. Very few women of color get access to quality mentors who can help them achieve higher levels of success. For most of us, mentorship is considered a privilege.
As we advance in our own careers or businesses, let’s consider mentoring other women of color. As we have access to rooms closed to other women of color, let’s consider teaching those behind us how to unlock them as well. It’s also important for us to accept to be mentored and receive the many advantages of mentoring as a benefit, rather than a hindrance to our lives and careers.
Create and sustain more businesses
Entrepreneurship has never been more of an equalizer as today. Women of color are starting businesses at higher rates than ever. The more women of color are able to create and sustain thriving businesses, the more we can create opportunities for a larger number of women.
Businesses are being created in a plethora of new markets every single day by women. This goes to show that there is indeed room for women in general, and women of color in particular, to move forward in their lives, careers and businesses.
Bring another woman of color with you
Along with mentoring other women of color, we can simply bring one with us as we evolve through our own careers and lives. This may mean inviting a fellow sister to a strategic team meeting, introducing her to a new networking group, or just putting a word in her favor.
Every time we’re stepping in rooms where there are no or not enough women of color, we should ask ourselves how we can change the situation for the better.
What’s your take: Do you agree that this mindset keeps women of color behind?
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis.