Updated: May 4, 2021
The professional work environment is a microcosm of America. America’s history of institutional sexism and racism has impacted women, especially women of color (WOC).
At work, women, especially WOC respond to messages that they are inadequate and cannot achieve certain advancements by cannibalizing their health, relationships, values and sometimes careers (by taking the off ramp).
The multiplicative identities of WOC influences their experiences and perceptions of leadership and shapes their experiences in fully joining, accessing, and navigating professional environments. This notion of balancing multiple social identities has significant impacts over aligning personal values with organizational norms as well as leveraging the same social (and political) connections found in the workplace that facilitate professional advancement. Further still, the prevalence of prejudice in the workplace has historically required that WOC carry the burden of dissecting ambiguous actions or statements to assess the specific target of racist or sexist behavior.
Broadly speaking, research has highlighted the importance of recognizing the intersectionality of multiplicative identities and the impact on WOC in the workplace. Initially coined as a ‘double blind’ burden placed upon WOC, subsequent research has shed a critical light on such terminology to acknowledge a critical consciousness lens through which the unique WOC lived experience can be explored. However, lacking in research is a uniform approach to supporting WOC to find balance among their social identities to uphold their authentic selves at work, at home, or in any context.
CEO of You aims to educate and advocate for the differentiated lived experiences of WOC along four important dimensions:
Leveraging Social Networks
Establishing Organizational Benefactors or Sponsors to support WOC professional advancement
Valuing Communal Support Systems or ‘Kinship Network Systems’ manage work and life priorities and
Designing Coping Strategies that leverage Womanist thinking to resist internalizing experiences of sexism and attributing them to personal failings.