Let’s face it. These days, Black women are doing the damn thing–especially in the workplace. And whether you’re being brilliant in the boardroom or exceeding as an entrepreneur, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to getting the job done. Here are 10 Career Tips for Black Women that will help you keep it classy and cute and most importantly, respected, while bringing home the bacon.
1. Nix the Angry Black Women Stereotype.
There’s a stigma when it comes to black women, and being angry. We’ve all heard it before, being called “sassy” and other seemingly negative adjectives when coworkers confuse our assertiveness for being bitchy. While I don’t condone the “angry black women” phrase, I feel there are ways to address conflict without getting a negative reaction. I call it speaking Obama Style. Lord knows his buttons have been pressed throughout his presidency, but he has a special way of speaking that allows him to get his point across all while “checking” those who came incorrect. This involves speaking in a calm tone, stating the facts, and confirming that the information you delivered was received and understood. If this doesn’t work, take some time to slowly count to ten or read a bible verse. Sidenote: Speaking Obama Style can also be applied to your everyday life outside of the office.
2. Dress to Impress.
If you’re like me, you have a lot of pieces in your closet that are cute but borderline inappropriate for the workplace. So how you do you decide what is and isn’t suitable? Simple. Pull out an outfit, look at it, and if you begin contemplating about whether or not you can “get away with” the garments you’re looking at, put them back in the closet. It’s not appropriate. Move to the next ensemble and pencil in a trip to The Limited to re-up on some new duds.
3. Befriend Another Black Woman.
Find someone at your job that you can relate to. It makes for more pleasurable work experience knowing that you have someone that understands your day to day struggles and insecurities, and who you can share a giggle with for things you know your other co-workers won’t understand. But beware, if there are only a few of you in the building, you’re likely be mistaken for each other from time to time.
4. Don’t Befriend EVERYONE.
Yes, have a workmate that you can confide in. However, don’t confide in all of your workmates. It’s a recipe for disaster. The less people know about you and your personal life, the better.
5. Mind Your Media.
Social media, that is. By now you’ve heard stories of social media causing employees to lose their jobs. Don’t let that be you. Save your rants for a friend or significant other. And know that a private page doesn’t really mean much anymore. One of the main ways I keep it HR friendly on social media is by using the Grandma Rule: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see.
6. Negotiate Your Pay.
This is something not enough women in general do, and studies show that not negotiating can have negative impacts on women. We can get so caught up in the excitement of getting a new job or a promotion that we lose our business mindset in the moment. Know your worth, and don’t be afraid to stick to it. You weren’t hand selected just for your company to just reach its quota. You are brilliant, and your check should reflect that.
7. Lean In.
A lot of times black women feel they need to mute their voices in meetings and group settings. Whether it’s because we don’t think our thoughts and ideas are valid, or we’re just shy about being in the spotlight, it needs to stop. Dimming our light to let others shine won’t get us to the top, where we belong.
8. Go the extra mile.
So you’re doing daily duties, and doing them well. Be sure to take on an additional assignment every now and then. Not only can you use this gesture as a way to earn some brownie points with your boss, but also as a resume builder. At the end of the day, it’s about working smarter. And working smarter allows you to critically think and find the best way to do your job without overexerting yourself. Any extra energy can be used to give a little more in other places, like fleshing out an idea or taking an assignment to the next level. All of which show your commitment to the company.