Catty CoWorker or Collaborator?
Hey There! I've been working my magic out here in these streets. Follow my IG, Twitter, or Facebook to stay abreast!
Anyways, aside from coaching and rewriting a million and one resumes (which I love to do) I've been chatting with sisters near & far about our workplace experiences. I've been learning the common themes for us all and also the things that make each of our experiences unique. We all have the occasional bad day with a flurry of status quo and high notes in between. It is good to see so many women of color pursuing their passions in a variety of industries and disciplines. It is amazing that we don't network and connect with each other as much as we could.
So the question I 've been asking myself... With all these WOC working their magic why do so many of us feel like we don't have an ally?
We are inherently strong. There is strength in numbers. We should see each other as cheerleaders or partners in success when working in professional spaces. There are enough obstacles to navigate being a WOC in any workplace... why not make the relationship with another woman be an aid to your success and hers... instead of a hindrance.
It reminds me of the relationships in the movie, Hidden Figures. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were colleagues and friends employed by NASA. Their tenure with NASA took place in the segregated South. It was amazing to see the love and camaraderie they had for each other. I am sure there were bad days and probably some catty BS that took place... but while I watched in awe my heart was tender. I saw how they felt marginalized and even after being recognized as brilliant it was not counted as an asset. Other women (white women) were able to hold permanent positions and even leadership- even if they did not have the experience or qualifications. (Sounds alike today- *look up affirmation action #1 benefactor.) I digress, but still look it up.
These women found refuge in each other. They knew each other's brilliance and encouraged one another to fight to be recognized. They fought for promotions. They fought to be heard. They fought to use the same bathrooms. But they did not fight each other. They knew they were all there fighting together. The cattiness had to decrease if we were going to push the meter on things that mattered.
I am by no means saying they didn't have instances of gossip or petty days. I bet they did. Wait, I know they did. What I am saying is that they chose to be collaborators in the bigger picture. The climate for us is a little different. No one is blatantly blocking us from opportunities or making us use a different restroom. But there are other microaggressions that exist. Exhausting as it is... unless we hit the lotto, develop a billion dollar app, or your relatives will you money for a lifetime we all have to work. Learning how to cope is one way to make your work day easier and your career less hectic.
Learn to lean on your sisters at work. Ask her to lunch or tea. Meet offline to collaborate on something productive. Learn something about her position. Try not to gossip... build positive social capital and grow. Make your sisters at work your collaborator and not your catty coworker. Let's work to kill the noise that women can't work together... if it is challenge ask yourself why it is. I am assessing this for myself now. I'll let y'all know what I uncover.