speak your truth – race at work

What are the top things you “shouldn’t” talk about at work?  I’m sure if you started creating a list “race” would come up fairly quickly.  Why is it taboo and often dangerous to talk about at work?  Because “race ‘shouldn’t’ matter”…”we ‘should’ be colorblind.”…the list goes on and on as to why it’s inappropriate, unprofessional and could get you into trouble.

The reality is that racial differences exist and should be recognized, celebrated and acknowledged. When they aren’t – it’s creates a problem and an absence of psychological safety in the workplace (and at home).

Simply creating spaces to talk about “taboo” topics empowers the creation of systems and processes where unconscious biases are called out and mitigated.

So, what is unconscious bias and why is it important to understand?

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.” (diversity.ucsf.edu)

The first step is awareness that we each (yes, you too) have unconscious biases.  We have learned these from our parents, friends, family and society.  And when we make certain assumptions, decisions and actions they are normally shaped from our biases (either conscious or unconscious) and these biases can be positive or negative.

In the workplace, this shows up in a lot of different ways.  For example, have you ever heard a manager say “she’s just not a good culture fit” or “he seems like he would fit in really well” or “we need to coach him/her on how to communicate here”.  Many times these statements come from a place of bias, a stereotype combined with an organizational culture that is steeped in the behaviors of executive leadership.  In most organizations this demographic tends to be upper/middle class, heterosexual, middle-aged, able-bodied white males (with a small percentage of exceptions).

One way to start fixing biases in a system is to first acknowledge that they exist.

For the purposes of this blog, I am talking about racial groups in the context of unconscious bias.  However, it shows up around any identity, such as, gender, socioeconomic class, ethnicity, ability, religion, etc.

As humans, our brain and nervous system push us to be more comfortable in homogenous environments.  When you start to integrate differences into those environments it disrupts the system and creates waves of change.  This can often be difficult and bring out people’s unconscious bias which can impact their actions, decisions and ultimately the career and livelihood of other individuals.

I have found it helpful to outwardly discuss race and how it plays a part in organizations. Providing the space for everyone to speak their truth and bring their full selves to work is critical for organizational success.

Posted in Diversity, Professional, Race, Risk Taking, Self Awareness | Leave a comment

Coming back – 4 years later…It’s Never Too Late!

You might be wondering where I’ve been the last 4 years!  Well, I’ll tell you – I’ve had the privilege of working at two different amazing organizations, I gave birth to an energetic little boy and a bright eyed baby girl. We bought a new house in the DC area and then moved across the country to Seattle for a great professional opportunity. We are quickly acclimating to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and building a network of friends. I’ve celebrated nine years of marriage with my ride or die hubby AND learned numerous lessons about love, life and my career.

I’m excited to introduce some thought provoking, idea generating and interesting topics from my personal and professional experiences.  Here are a few topics for you to look forward to in the future:

  • Being a black female in leadership
  • When race and gender intersect
  • How to navigate passive aggressive behavior in the workplace
  • Why you should talk about race at work
  • Mentors vs. Champions
  • Defining and driving your own success at work
  • How to be strategically honest

Let me know (in the comments) if there are any others you would like to discuss!


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“She’s A Boss”!

Final_ShesABossPNG“She’s a boss!” A term that has been coined recently through reality TV and social media.   What does it mean when you hear “she’s a boss?”  What makes a woman “a boss”?   As I take time to reflect on it, I see it as the skill to get what you want without giving up anything you don’t want to give up.  Women have a great ability to get what they want, sometimes that ability just needs to be grown and fostered but all women can be “a boss”!

What attributes do you believe make “a boss”?

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Work Smart – Not Hard!

It’s officially spring and as we start to move from cooler to warmer weather, it’s a great time for me to think about my goals and how I want to nurture them to blossom throughout the remainder of the year.  I’ve been trying hard to focus on developing the structure, target audience and chapters of my book over the past three months.

Through this process, I have really begun to understand the premise of “working smart, not hard”.  It takes a lot of time and effort to build the portfolio of a non-fiction book, let alone write an entire book.

It seems, before I know it a month has passed and I haven’t completed anywhere near as much as I hoped. Life happens so quickly, in what seems to be the “blink of an eye”. I’ve learned a few important ways to focus my attention on the things I value as important: my family, friends and hobbies – while still reaching my goal.

  1. Using my resourcesI love bouncing ideas and concepts off my family and friends, especially those that are not my “target audience”.  We have lively discussions that enhance my ability to move outside my original thinking to reflect and build new ideas.  
  2. Making timeInstead of putting everything and everybody before my goal of writing this book.  I decided to carve out time, even if only 60 – 90 minutes a week to focus solely on my book.  It is difficult for me to work on my book outside of that time due to other life commitments, which makes it even more critical not to waste that designated time on something else.
  3. Having a mentorThe first step in starting my writing journey was to reach out to a trusted friend that has been successful in this field.  I figured, I better practice what I preach.  The primary premise for obtaining knowledge, is to learn  from those that already have that knowledge.  My mentor, Michelle Haimoff (http://michellehaimoff.com/ – check out her most recent book!) is directing me down a path where I can see the possibilities of actually completing this book.  And it’s always nice to have someone rooting for me that has successfully walked down this path.  Michelle also helps me stay the course and when I seem to take a wrong turn, she knows just the assignment to get me back on track!
  4. Sharing with others – In addition, Michelle continues to encourage me through my monthly homework assignments to get input and feedback from trusted friends/colleagues that are considered my “target audience”.  It allows me to take the ideas and concepts I discussed with all my resources (above) and really focus in on my target audience.  It’s also a great way to obtain “champions” that support me,  the effort that goes into the writing process and my vision for this book.

In conclusion, in my experience, to “work smart, not hard” I’ve had to intentionally build a framework that supports what’s important in my life; spending time with family, friends and getting a little extra push from my mentor.  By doing this, my book isn’t an “extra” thing I want to do that I will never finish.  It’s a part of who I am and what I do on a regular basis – finishing is the only option.

How do you work “Work Smart – Not Hard”?

Posted in Mentoring, Personal Development, Professional | 1 Comment

Make A Difference

As my first post during the Lenten Season, I want to focus on almsgiving (defined as “making voluntary contributions to aid others”).  In the Catholic church, almsgiving is an important part of lent and is something that should be focused on throughout the year.

The same way that we are focusing on our goals, it’s important to find ways to give back. My mother and father in-law gave me a bracelet for my 30th Birthday from an organization called “Good Work(s) – Make A Difference“.  This organization’s mission is simply to spread acts of kindness, and the bracelet has beautiful sayings that remind me every time I wear it to focus on almsgiving.  Sometimes small gestures of kindess can make a big difference in someone’s day, week or year!

I want to share the words on my bracelet, so you can pull these words whenever you have a choice to walk away or do a small act of kindess.

Plant Peace, Live In Unity, FREEDOM, Be Aware, Dream, Hope, LOVE, Make A Difference, Believe, ACCEPT DIVERSITY, Courage, Come Together

Happy Lenten Season…May Peace Be With You Always!

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Dirty 30!

I’m officially in my dirty 30’s and after a few weeks I’m slowly starting to feel the joy’s of being thirty.  This is the year to start making my dreams a reality, is this your year to shine too?

I love the old proverb “A vision without a plan is just a dream.  A plan without a vision is just drudgery.  But a vision with a plan can change the world.”  Well that’s my goal, to have a plan (not just a dream) to change the world.  And realistically, although I know I may not change the world, I want to make the biggest impact possible.

dirty30-300x190Over the years, I have learned the importance of both formal and informal mentoring.  That is why I structured this blog to be about women striving for and achieving their goals, through sharing stories and experiences (as a form of virtual mentoring).  As minority women, we are powerful and can make significant changes in the world.

I am setting out on my next venture this year as I move into my “dirty 30’s” to turn this blog into a book.  More details coming soon…

What is your plan for the year?

Posted in Mentoring, Storytelling, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Living your Destiny!

“What happened happened, and couldn’t have happened any other way” – Morpheus (The Matrix Reloaded)

We each have a unique talent (that’s innate) – we may work over time to perfect it but it’s been with us since the time we were born. I see this talent as part of all of our destinies, the challenge is recognizing and living it.

I started this blog post with a quote that for me, is all about destiny. I believe my destiny is aligned to God’s journey for my life. God gave us the ability to make choices, so although I have the ability to choose my path – all my experiences are to prepare me for my greater journey/destiny.

Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist - Gymnastic Team and All-Around

6 by 30 is all about reaching your ultimate potential, which is why I want to highlight Gabby Douglas – she is a role model for women at all ages and in all careers. She recognized her innate talent at a young age and had determination to reach her ultimate potential (winning Olympic gold in the team and all-around gymnastics competitions). Not only did she recognize this talent but she seized the opportunities that God presented to move down a path to reach her ultimate potential. It wasn’t necessarily a path that was ideal, she left home at age 14 to train in Iowa and stay with a host family. But she had faith that her choice would lead her to her ultimate destination. It required hard work, tough days and perseverance but this stage of her life is part of her ultimate destiny.

Have you taken time out to recognize your unique talent? Are you making choices so that you are living that talent? Just think of the collective power, if all women were able to express and live their unique talent each and everyday!

No matter what path you choose in your life, and what obstacles, dead ends or triumphs you encounter, remember “what happened happened, and couldn’t have happened any other way” because if it had – it wouldn’t be your life’s journey!

Enjoy living your destiny each and everyday – and pay it forward to another young woman!

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When is it okay to fire your boss (& other annoying people in your life)?

You're Fired NoteFirst of all, I would like to apologize for not posting for the past few months.  Life gets away and we’re already into 2Q2012.  This is reality and the struggle I know we all have when we want to accomplish so many things but just don’t seem to have the time.  Well, I’m back and focused to deliver on my 2012 commitment to you – to continue our journey.

Now – on to business 🙂  I have been fortunate to have had managers throughout my career that have allowed me to grow, learn and develop in and outside of my area of expertise. However, for many this is not the case or hasn’t been the case consistently.

When is it okay to fire your boss?

It is imperative that as women, we stand up for nothing less than being compensated and treated fairly in our job roles, ironically, many times some of the biggest culprits of fair treatment are other women.  When you are in a position and you don’t have the opportunity to develop, through attending external learning events, internal training, working on cross functional teams or engaging in stretch assignments, it’s time to speak up. Even if your boss is a woman!  If you don’t plan on moving up the career ladder, that’s not an excuse, we all still have opportunities to grow and learn.  Take your manager aside and have an open dialogue about your lack of development in your current position.  If you are given excuses about the “budget” or other constraints – find free training courses or suggest participating on a cross functional team to develop key competencies.  Make an effort!  If you still receive push back after several attempts, it maybe time to fire your boss.

It’s important as women in the workforce that we realize we have the power to make our own decisions.  Leaving a job many times opens us to new and exciting possibilities that we can’t even dream about sitting at our desks, staring at the stupid excel document the manager wants by close of business. When we are not receiving value through development, growth and relationships, we hold the power – You’re Fired! .

It’s the same for “other annoying people in your life” – sometimes we need to fire acquaintances, friends and even family!  If you are participating in a relationship that does not offer mutual respect, kindness, generosity, and love – it may be time to unleash your fire power!

Enjoy your new freedom and know when it’s time to fire your boss and other annoying people in your life!

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Black History Month

Every year when February roles around it amazes me the lack of acknowledgement given to black history month. In my opinion, the role black history has played in the creation of the U.S. as we know it today should be acknowledged and represented all the time, but especially celebrated during the “shortest” month (that’s another conversation) of the year. It boogles my mind the number of organizations I have seen and been a part of that barely recognize black history month. Simply acknowledging these differences and contributions is such an integral part of creating a diverse and inclusive organizational culture.

Black History Month reminds me to always “keep my eye on the prize”. For me, its important not to fall in line with others but to always strive for my goals and aspirtations. I learned very soon after working in corporate america that company’s will work me to death if I allow them. It is critical as black women that we make our mark on the world. Thinking beyond “making money” but creating our legacy, whether that is raising our children, helping create a just and fair society, eliminating poverty and hunger, educating women or enhancing developing countries.

It is our responsibility to create a legacy as the next generation of black women leaders around the world. Black History should and WILL be celebrated everyday of the year. You can contribute to building this new reality by following your dream and making it come true!

Amazing Women in Black History

Happy Black History Month!

Posted in Career Development, Personal Development | 2 Comments

Happy New Year!

I am wishing all of my readers a Happy New Year!

I hope you had a fabulous holiday season filled with love, laughter, friends and family. I am excited about 2012, the new beginnings and continued journeys this year will bring. I have many “resolutions” for this year, both professionally and personally. However, one of these resolutions is a “promise” to you, my readers. I promise to continue with you on this journey of storytelling and growth, focusing on inspiring all women to reach their ultimate potential. I ask for your commitment to continue building your personal brand, sharing your voice with others and working towards your goals in life.

I look forward to hearing about your journeys in 2012!

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