It’s been a while since I’ve done a more chatty post and while the outfit inspo is still here if you’re coming for that, I thought it was high time I wrote about something important. Today, I’m talking about what it means to be a modern day young black professional.
I’m sorry (not sorry) if the title to this alone offends you, if it does then perhaps you are not cognisant of the issue – yes, to those of you in the know, there are now people out there who believe racial injustice doesn’t exist or is somehow a thing of the past. This is idiotic to say the least, all you need to do is watch the news. That said, from a work environment perspective things may not be so obvious.
In recent years gender diversity has come to the fore. As a woman, it’s definitely encouraging to see movements, like Me Too and the requirement for UK companies to disclose their gender pay gap, highlighting some of the challenges we face. That said, I can’t help but wonder whose beating the drum for ethnic diversity?
Let’s not forget the point of the whole discussion, at least for me anyway. Diversity, especially in a work place setting, is about bringing differing views and opinions to the discussion. It’s recognition of the fact that by doing so, your team, company or experience generally will be better or more effective.
All I can do is speak from my own experience and I very much count myself one of the lucky ones. To date, I have not really experienced racism, or at least not to my knowledge. In terms of my current working environment, I’ve definitely said in the past that it’s corporate, but true to British form, the ethnic make-up is historically white, British and male. Over time this has improved and I will say there must be an on going initiative to improve racial diversity, I for sure have noticed an uptick across the spectrum!
Moving toward better representation globally is not going to be easy, surely it would have happened by now if it were. This requires cultural change. First on the part of underrepresented ethnicities to meet the requirements of the job opening, but more so on employers to push their recruiters to put forward a broad base of talent. Yet, the biggest hurdle still remains – ignorance, on the part of employers who don’t realise our difference can be an asset.
So what are those differences? If people are a product of their environment and life experiences then chances are your ethnic background will have some form of influence on your personality. For me, I’ve been told that I’m outspoken and can be quite loud. Now, I am by no means saying that being black has anything to do with me being outspoken, but perhaps coming from a large Jamaican family might. The point is, some employers may see this as a negative, a potential risk in a client environment. While on the other hand, what I was actually told was that my difference of opinion is valued and that I have a way of saying things others are afraid to say. This was one of my lightbulb moments.
In the end, my life experiences as a young black professional (perhaps not so young anymore) have taught me that, being myself and knowing my s*it is a key point. Yes, adversity is somewhat inevitable – God knows I went through my fair share of making it to the last round of interviews and not getting the job. Or, how about the time I applied for a graduate scheme and was told that I was the best candidate at the experience day and given the position on the spot. Only to later be interviewed by a finance director, who didn’t ask one finance question, and then have the position retracted because of “poor turn of phrase” – yeah right, a team of interviewers the week before said differently. Rant over.
While some of my experiences were crappy to say the least, it brings me to the final point, resilience. You may face setbacks, but you have to keep pressing forward with your agenda. Eventually you will get a yes. If like me your impatient, use networking to your advantage. Find a way to meet your potential employer directly and impress them that way. You’ll still need to go through a recruitment process, but at the least, you’ll be more comfortable. Finally, I can’t stress the importance of staying true to you. If I’d have listened to some of my naysayers I’d have never built the career I’m building now. Besides, duplicity takes far too much energy.
In this post
Shirt – Mango
Denim Mini skirt – Zara
Shoes – Dorothy Perkins, old – try these from H&M
Handbag – Topshop, sold out but this is lovely here
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