There is a wealth of information about women who are successful but it is equally important to provide key tips on how to navigate through your career as a women especially as a woman of colour. Sometimes I wish I knew these tips at the beginning of my career, to help me navigate through those rough seasons in my career. Now, I know these things, I will share it with you.
Work in a good organisation
I think this is really important. Work in an organisation that supports and encourages personal growth. There are companies that support and encourage the growth of women without being patronising, well all companies should do this, but the reality is that not all companies do. How many women are in leadership? How flexible is the company to working from home or part-time? How many months do you get for maternity leave? What courses are provided to aid your career and personal development? Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that are important to you. It makes a massive difference when you feel like you have the support of your manager and your organisation in developing your goals.
Set your goals
Set your goals and express them to management. If you want to get a promotion next year, tell management. If your goal is to manage a team and become a subject matter expert, express these goals and write them down. There is no point keeping these goals to yourself. Write them so that you and your manager can be held accountable to achieving these goals. Make sure these goals are attainable and realistic.
There is no loyalty in the working environment. Do not be afraid to make drastic moves to propel your career to the next level. Obviously do not burn bridges as you go along, but don’t be afraid to make the moves. Yes, it may result in awkward conversations with your colleagues or your manager, but so be it. If you want more money or if you want a promotion and your company is not prepared to give it to you, start to look outside your company. If your wants and needs are realistic and you are good at what you do, another company will snatch you up.
No, not selling your body cos we don’t play like that! But do not be afraid to talk about your strengths, highlight the good work you are doing. Perception is key. I recently made this mistake, because I thought that by putting my head down and working hard will give me the recognition I wanted, but that is not all. To get promoted or to get to senior levels, people need to know about you and the good work you are doing. Studies have shown that men are very good at this. Have you ever met a guy who talks himself to the highest heights but then when you look at his work you think ‘I can do much better’. Women naturally are not great at talking themselves up. Get into the habit of using ‘I’ instead of ‘we’, send an email to senior management on a weekly/monthly basis, which highlights the good work you have done.
As a woman, especially if you are a woman of colour, you need to work twice or even three times as hard as your male colleagues to get the same recognition. It is not supposed to be this way, but it is. Be driven and focused when you are working, making sure you give your best in everything you do. Be better and work smarter. ‘Seek to prove yourself right, rather than proving everyone wrong’ this is something my mentor told me. We need more women in senior positions to lead the next generation. It is getting better but it is not there yet. Too many young girls are being wowed by the idea that being naked is the best way to get success, which is not true.
Network, network and network.
Speak to other women who are where you aspire to be, understand their challenges and how they got to that position. Speak to women on your level and bounce ideas off them. Do not see women as the competition. I think far too many women feel threatened by other women which shouldn’t be. Help other women who want to get to your level. That’s the way to move forward. I actually believe if you do good, favour and prosperity comes to you.
Picture from: google images