Women are accustomed to being judged by our appearance, but it is very rare we are judged by our skills.
The strong leadership qualities we possess at work are often mislabeled as bossy. “Bossy” is not a desired trait in the corporate world and leaders in the organization are seeing us as a threat to their status. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter made a true statement in the 2014 “Ban Bossy” Lifetime Television Pledge, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” Another great reminder of how women are told to act in the workplace from Cornell360 Blog Contributor Chris Wofford, “A female leader is supposed to be strong and authoritative, know her stuff, hold her ground and speak her mind, but while doing that, she is simultaneously also supposed to come off as sweet, supportive, nice, communal, kind and gentle — all of those expectations of what an appropriate woman is supposed to be.”
In the past, we allowed ourselves to fade into the background instead of standing in the spotlight. However, we are in the generation to be given so much. Movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have seen a brighter spotlight in recent years. Women are having open, honest, conversations in and out of the workplace regarding our necessities to create a stable and safe work experience.
Alongside learning to negotiate for better pay and speak up for our mental and physical health, women are also determined to make sure our voices are heard and our experiences are recognized. The benefits and pay women of color are requesting is not based simply on a feeling of what we deserve. We haven’t had the luxury of using our last names, alma mater, skin color, or gender privilege to prevail.
For women of color, the fight is more trivial. We must work twice as hard for basic life necessities because those higher up don’t believe we deserve them based on our background and/or skin color. The Root contributor Breanna Edwards states, “More than half of all women of any given background reported being highly on guard.” When it comes to it, checking a certain box has determined how valuable you are to an organization.
Every day we show up, far more than we are required because of our love of the field, the people, and even the organization. But we are constantly doing too much to receive recognition our work has already earned.
Women of color are determined to make our mark on the world in every aspect possible. For so long we’ve been told to depend on someone else to make situations happen. This is no longer an acceptable social norm. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers didn’t fight for freedom, the right to vote, the right to be heard, for us not to continue knocking down barriers placed in front of our next steps.
We are determined to make our own way. According to a 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report commissioned by American Express, “As of 2018, African American women-owned business have made up the largest segment of women-owned businesses after non-minority women.” That was only one report, of many, that proves women of color are fed up with being told we are asking for too much in the workplace. We are advancing to our wants and needs on our own terms.
Tiana Clark, a Buzzfeed Contributor, recently posted an amazing piece, “This Is What Black Burnout Feels Like.” Women of color are tired, but we understand the hustle of continuing on. Honestly, we have no other choice.
Not to mention, we feel required to show our appreciation by taking care of those who have taken care of us and those following in our footsteps. It’s a reality that follows us throughout education and the workplace.
We fight hard not to let ourselves and the people rooting for us down. We stay our course because getting off track might cost us our jobs, a place to sleep, and food to eat. Then when we are without a job for so long, we’ll be judged for that downfall.
Women of Color are not entitled to the things we’ve been asking for from our organizations. We’re determined to successfully be in the place we’ve worked twice as hard to achieve. Now, it’s time for organizations to pay up.