We Need Each Other. #WorkplaceAllies
It seems the theme of intersectionality is rampant all over current events. Sexism, gender pay gaps, race, sexuality- all of this and more is a part of our everyday lives. So why does it seem like everyone at work is oblivious? I get it some things are off topic in certain settings. But when people felt comfortable to talk about the bombings in Paris vs. current events right here in our yard... I questioned that rule. Last year was an emotional one (for me) seeing the live recordings of police killing black men and women in different cities. The news was full of protest images and messages of sorrow and hopelessness. RIGHT HERE. I literally had to fast from social media and media all together to keep my family sane. Feeling all the emotion in our communities of color is nothing new. However, being present in Corporate America in higher numbers now more than ever makes the experience... well, tense. In my opinion, I was tense. All these feelings swirling around and it felt like anyone outside my community had no care in the world. Until... I received a LinkedIn message from an old colleague. She was buddy. Seriously.
Her message was simple: "Hey Jasmin- the news has been crazy. Are you ok?. My eyes watered and I closed the inbox. Although we come from different backgrounds- we were able to be empathetic and collaborate. We ate lunch together and talked very candidly about things most would feel uncomfortable challenging. Whether race, gender, or celeb gossip her and I talked about it all. She ended up getting engaged and moved to New York. I moved on to another opportunity. But I remember how she always stood up for me in meetings and said things I could not say. Not because I did not know how to articulate them- but I was not sure it would be received the correct way. She recognized that. She also knew I had more experience and education but somehow she was paid more. Ha! Our work relationship helped me develop professionally. It also taught me the importance of corporate allies- especially when they are different than you. I am forever grateful her and what I learned. It reminded me of Adele's honest question regarding Beyonce's experience and performance..'What the F--- Does She Have to Do to Win Album of the Year?' Ha!
I love women like Adele. Not afraid to ask questions or empathize with others. Popular or not, women that can stand in the gap and ask the hard questions are golden. If my lil' story isn't enough to convince you here is an useful article outlining 'building alliances on the job'. In the moment Adele asked that question, I was reminded of my work buddy and felt emotional. She recognized that I worked hard and probably would be overlooked but she was always willing to speak up for me. I used her courage as my own even to this day. It has pushed me to seek out mentorship that does not share the same background or look like me. I responded to her LinkedIn message, "Thanks girl. You know you mah boo- thank you for checking in on me."
I have been able to focus on meaningful work relationships that expand my viewpoints. Authentically, I have been able to communicate with others to help bridge the gap and create workplace alliances that have helped push my career. There are always going to be situations that challenge you. Those opportunities are there to help you grow. Even if something occurs- build enough workplace alliances to question on your behalf... "What does she have to do to win?"