When it’s Not You, it’s Them.

Like this on Facebook

I believe that we can’t use bias and discrimination as an excuse to limit our success.  If I believed that my sex or the color of my skin would be an impediment in my career, I would not have the degree of success I’ve experienced.  While I never forget that I’m black, it’s not something that stays top of my mind in my day-to-day interactions.

Often I work with people who aren’t sure if their lack of progress in an organization is due to some form of bias or if they aren’t trying hard enough. Let’s be honest, as a women or person of color in the corporate world, you do have to worker harder than your white male colleagues.  To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes, “You’ll know that there’s true equality when an equal number of incompetent women as men are in leadership positions.”

If you are experiencing bias, how do you know when to keep pushing forward or to call it quits and find a better environment?  Here a some signs to help you navigate this issue.

They aren’t investing in you

If they won’t invest in the development of their people by giving them stretch assignments or the opportunity to apply for a promotion, it’s time to think about making a change.  I was working with a client that wanted to apply for a promotion at her law firm. However, as she talked to the partners in her practice group and other more senior attorneys, she realized that all they wanted was a billing machine.

There was no path to partnership, no autonomy, and no hope that she would learn how to run her own matters.  At first she was bummed, because she thought it was about them not wanting her. I asked her to look at the other associates in her firm and how they are treated.  She came back and told me they are all unhappy.

Her firm treated associates like commodities.  They are easily replaceable.  If you work within an organization that doesn’t value it’s people, they won’t value you regardless of your sex or color of your skin. Get out and find a better firm.

You don’t like them

I had another client that worked in banking.  She was doing well, but felt that her career was simply simmering.  It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t living up to the potential she saw for herself.  As a women of color, she didn’t fit in with the group that coalesced around the manager of her department.  She wasn’t invited to lunch and didn’t get the same business opportunities as the others.

While bias was working against her, she came to realize that in general she didn’t trust the people she worked with, and that held her back from trying to connect.  They were constantly jockeying for position and favoritism.  In fact favoritism, not productivity, is how people advanced in that environment.  It might be too strong to call them assholes, but she didn’t fit in because she didn’t really like them. More importantly, she wasn’t like them – she had higher standards.

You stay because you don’t think you have a choice

When you stay only because you think you don’t have a choice, you lack two things – clarity of your value and clarity about your ideal work environment.  As a women or man of color in a corporate environment, you aren’t lucky if you reached a level of senior management.  You’ve excelled by being better than most of your colleagues.  That’s the truth about bias.

If you’re not experiencing success and find yourself hitting a wall of bias, then decide if it’s is the best culture for you.  Don’t stay by default.  I was reading an article, Lessons From a New Mom in Tech, 3 Months Post-Launch, by Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, who was talking about being a new mom in tech.  She said, “Having a baby is stressful enough. To the extent that you can, try to be in a place where you feel supported. If you don’t feel comfortable asking (for support), then you might not be at the right place.”

So often we limit our success by settling for a place that isn’t worthy of what we bring to the table.  Always choose yourself first.

When you are thinking about your ideal job, think about the type of culture you need to thrive. Then interview companies based on your needs –  not on the hope that they will want you.  The prospect of bias and prejudice often leads us to take what we can get rather than what we truly want. Remember, it isn’t luck that has gotten you to this point in your career.  The best way to realize continued success is to build your career on your terms.

Jennifer McClanahan-Flint

Jennifer McClanahan-Flint is an Executive Career Strategist. Through her Leverage to Lead Programs she works with ambitious women and people of color to help them navigate compensation, bias, and their career progression so they can continue to rise. Jennifer works across industries to help women and people of color obtain the autonomy and financial security they need to thrive in their careers. To learn more about Jennifer visit her at www.leverage2lead.com and feel free connect with her on Twitter at @jennifermcflint.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

A few years ago, around the time when I was launching this blog, ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Career
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Career

As someone who left the corporate world to start my own business a few years

How to Make Your Mark When You Enter a Team
How to Make Your Mark When You Enter a Team

For most of us, working on projects and deliverables by ourselves is becoming increasingly scarce. We

Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to lead.
Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to lead.

“Don’t wait for an invitation to lead. Learn to see the leader in yourself.” —Jo

Confidence is Belonging
Confidence is Belonging

Confidence is a topic that is written about hugely – in fact I’ve done my

Leaderly Quote: Harness your superpowers…
Leaderly Quote: Harness your superpowers…

Ask a woman to name her signature strengths and she’ll often squirm in her chair,

It’s OK to Ask For Help
It’s OK to Ask For Help

It’s easy to imagine that our role models, leaders, and other highly successful people have

Listen, Learn, Lead! Teleclass, Podcast & Radio Roundup
Listen, Learn, Lead! Teleclass, Podcast & Radio Roundup

Want to smarten up, expand your thinking, and procrastinate a bit longer on that tedious

Three Tricks to Step Up Your Self-Promotion Skills
Three Tricks to Step Up Your Self-Promotion Skills

I recently attended a women’s leadership dinner and heard a young woman ask the speaker—a

Leaderly Quote: Learn to just say no.
Leaderly Quote: Learn to just say no.

“Learn to just say no. No explanation, no excuse, no apology.”—Fawn Germer  

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Are you looking for motivation to help you take charge of your career trajectory? Here

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more.
Copyright 2018, Be Leaderly