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  • Chi

An Open Letter To Black Women Entering The Corporate World

The corporate world was not built for or with Black people in mind, specifically Black women. Whether it is intentional or not, your morals will be questioned throughout your career - no matter the industry or position. You will learn, quickly, the boundaries and lines you are willing to cross at work. You will learn what you stand for and that there is no separating personal morals from professional morals - it is one and the same. The parts of your identity and belief system that define you will be challenged and as a result, there will be a number of behaviors and skills you will learn as a Black employee to protect and support yourself.

Corporate America is no stranger to racism, so there are everyday conflicts that you and other Black persons are familiar with: code switching, the struggle to get constructive feedback, and being gaslighted, among other things. Your parents warned you about these types of conflicts and gave you tips on proceeding with caution. But what about the problems that are harder to identify? Black employees being overlooked for promotions and raises, nepotism disguised in the form of referrals, and the lack of attention put towards diversity and inclusion efforts are examples of conflicts that will present themselves and will require you to be proactive. This is why it is important for you to stay true to yourself while creating work environments that do not force you to sacrifice your beliefs; emphasis on creating. This may feel disruptive and uncomfortable at first, but it has lasting effects.

In the advertising technology industry, it is rare to see Black women in leadership positions or the executive suite - outside of diversity and inclusion officers. When this is the case, chances are your company does not have any experience managing Black talent, providing safe spaces for Black employees, or retaining Black talent. Learning how to advocate for yourself and other Black employees, communicate your points to leaders at your organization, and building/adjusting systems that are at your company are integral in your professional growth. This will require you to be disruptive while providing solutions like starting employee resource groups (ERGs), sharing articles and current events that should be discussed, and working with your Human Resources rep to improve upon systems your company has in place. These behaviors may be new to you but are necessary for the workplace.

As a Black woman in an entry-level position, I did not think that I would have to consider my morals or establish boundaries this early on in my career. Shortly after starting my first corporate job, I realized how disposable you are as an employee at a company, and making money is not a good enough reason to accept a job. I realized that money is not my only intention and that I need to consider other factors that come into play when defining my own career path. Nonetheless, I learned how to be disruptive while creating solutions for myself and other Black employees. I became a more effective contributor and gained confidence in standing my ground. Who knows, maybe my next goal will be to start my own company.

As a Black person, it does not matter what industry you are in; we will always have to question our morals and challenge ourselves to see if the job and career align with our morals. Be sure to stay true to yourself, be patient with yourself, and make intentional decisions for your career path.

With love,

Corporate Chi

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