Dr. Akilah Cadet
You know the drill! New job, new opportunity, new excitement! You enjoy the commute or the company perks, then boom, you realize at your second holiday party that you feel like you’re going nowhere. In what feels like slow motion, you scan the room and see that your coworkers have had opportunities like that one business trip or the promotion you thought you were going to get!
Don’t panic! Be proactive!
Trust me, I’ve been there! As women of color in a working environment we must be more strategic and just like dating, look for any red flags! Here are three tips for being a successful woman of color in the workplace.
#1: The Interview Process
It all starts here! Was your panel diverse? Were you able to ask questions of your supervisor’s managing style? Did you meet or see any other WOC leaders? These questions address diversity in the workplace, so a lot of no’s is not the way you want to start a job. As a woman of color, diversity determines our professional success with a company. Support is crucial to our success! During your second interview ask for a tour of the office (if one is not provided). The second interview signifies a sincere interest in you as a candidate, and the company is looking for the right fit so it is a great time to see if they fit your needs too! A tour of the office can easily show you diversity when it comes to women and people of color. Red Flag: If there are only a handful or POC or WOC then it may not be the right place for you. It’s not always a bad thing, but if you thrive off like mindedness or you have had issues in the past where you felt like you were a “token” (aka always the women or POC who was asked what other women or POC felt about something) then the chances of that pattern being repeated are high. Bottom line, if you do not see diversity, the chances of you having opportunity or promotional growth are slim.
#2: First Six Months
To me there are no rules of how long you should stay in a job, but I always throw out six months as it is enough time to get over the honeymoon phase and delve deeper into the ins and outs of the job. If in six months you are not excited by at least half the things you were when you started the job, then the job is probably not for you. Red Flag: If you are finding out about meetings, activities, or project launches after they happened, and you should have been present, you are officially becoming overlooked. Once you are overlooked it is pretty impossible for new opportunities or promotions to come from the supervisor/team. It is okay to start to look elsewhere at this time as you know the interview process can take time. So, before you know it you will have been at the old job for one year and starting the new job in two weeks!
#3: The Art of Problem Solving
Problem solving is one of the best ways to get noticed! With any role, from front line staff to management there are problems to solve and strategy is always the answer. Start with the gaps! For example, if X number of people need to be signed up for a service, then see who else in the company signs people up (for anything). Once you identify that person, then see how you can collaborate on signing people up (because you are doing the same thing). Problem solving like this shows teamwork, meeting objectives, initiative, drive, the list goes on. Problem solving gets you noticed! Red Flag: If you solve a problem and your boss takes credit for it, then you may want to problem solve getting a new job. If you are not getting the accolades you deserve then it’s time to move on as you should always be celebrated for your accomplishments!
These three tips can help you remain successful in the workplace, find a new opportunity, or say no to the wrong opportunity. Strategy in the workplace is how you interview, what you do during your six months, and how you problem solve. With more women of color being vocal in the workplace now is the time to start to get what you want. Do not limit yourself or feel opportunities are limited for you. Women of color are limitless.