We can progress. We can do all of the things to get us where we want to be professionally. Yet, regardless of our efforts, there are plenty of issues that black women face in the workplace. Even though it is 2018 and black women have proven their worth, ability, and potential, over and over again, the struggles still persist.
Fortunately, most black women don’t let these issues in the workplace stop their natural “flow”. They will just keep producing and keep moving forward, despite the negativity. That resilience is what has allowed black women to prosper in the face of adversity throughout history. We can’t stop and we won’t stop.
Here’s a few of the issues that seem to be most prevalent for black women face in the workplace:
Our tone seems to only be “right” when we are being accommodating.
Whenever a situation arise that requires a more stern or less favorably response, black women are generally seen as “overreacting” or “too loud”. For some reason, as long as we are going along with things, our tone of voice is fine. However, the moment that we disagree, have to defend a decision, or have to address an issue, our voices become offensive.
We are seen as aggressive in almost every situation.
Black women are perceived as bullying, ghetto, or overly aggressive. If a black woman tries to get onto a closing elevator, her attempt is looked at as boorish. However, when her contemporaries, that are not people of color, do the same thing, they are assisted or receive apologies if the door closed on them. Everything from the way that she approaches her coworkers to the way that she walks into a meeting is often taken as confrontational.
Black women in the workplace are made to feel like others are just waiting for them to “mess up”.
Criticism and more “constructive feedback” than their counterparts are what black women should expect to receive in the workplace. When they hold positions of trust or have to handle money, they are often “suspected” or watched. Many black women managers recognize that their departments are often more heavily scrutinized or first to be blamed when issues arise.
Black women can expect microaggressions, to be overlooked, and to work 100 times harder for the same pay or less.
Unfortunately, the reality is that black women can somehow become “invisible” in meetings with large groups of white males. We are often overlooked even when we are accomplishing more than others. Finally, black women expect to be paid less than fair pay. But, even with all of the shade and the issues that black women face in the workplace, we still rise.