Some of you might not know that I teach a course on Leading Talent Development at NYU Wagner. One of the reasons I decided to add "Professor" next to my name is because I wanted to help influence the next generation of leaders and managers in relation to how they see human capital in the workplace. More importantly, I wanted to reinforce how they should invest in human capital that might not look or identity like they do.
My mother first taught me about managing up. That isn’t what she called it, of course, but when I got my first job, she’d tell me stories about her career. She'd share how she went from working in the basement at her company to getting promoted to a number of different roles, and the little things she did to get there. She'd regularly give me suggestions on how to be great at work, and how to get the most done with (or in spite of) whatever boss I had.
What would it look like if the rooms we walked into or the tables we sat at were diverse? What about in terms of board membership? Imagine sitting in a boardroom that was representative of the communities you live in and the customers you serve. I believe that is exactly what California is striving for in trying to pass a bill that would require publicly held companies to have women on their boards. Which is great news for women of color: we are not equally represented on corporate boards, so there is lots of opportunity and board seats to secure.
Two months after graduation, I landed my first corporate job with visions of a meritocracy that offered equal opportunities to ascend towards the C-Suite. Instead, I was greeted with something different. I experienced discrimination and isolation that my university did not equip me to overcome; that I learned by trial and error.
In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg inspired all women to *Lean In*, yet, failed to address what leaning in is like for black and brown women. There is an extra socio-economic and systemic layer of glass that women of color must chip away at before they reach the ceiling in Sheryl’s book.
“Are you ready to get your life back and head to work?”
“Aren’t you excited to get back to your routine?”
“Won’t it be a relief to not worry about the baby all day?”
Life. Routine. Worry.
As I stood there crying tears of joy holding the positive pregnancy test, everything changed. There was a shift in my universe. The GPS had to recalculate. The destination didn’t change, but we had to implement a detour. My life would never go back to what it once was, I wouldn’t want it to. The routine I had fallen into would change, it had to. And worry, well that is an innocent side effect of motherhood.