Part of securing our seat at the table is making sure we bring others along with us. We're combing the archives for some of our favorite articles that you may have missed, and this one really speaks to us. The following post, "It's a Privilege," by founder, Minda Harts, reminds us that when one of us wins, we all win. We have had so many people help us along our journey -- thank you! The post originally appeared January, 2018. We hope it speaks to you as well.
By: The Memo Staff
We often discuss what it’s like to advocate for ourselves, but what would it look like if we advocated for others? What would it look like if we stood in the gap for others when they aren’t able to stand in the gap for themselves? The happiness that we feel when we stand up for ourselves during those times that require us to -- think how good it might make another colleague feel when that is done for them unsolicited. If we want folks to advocate for us, sometimes we have to signal to others that we would advocate for them, too.
Here are four ways you can be an advocate for someone else:
- Listen & Learn: Actively listen to what your colleagues are telling you about their experiences at work. Take the time to learn about another marginalized group. Don't count on others to do all the work teaching you how to advocate for them. Find books, articles, films, etc. Learn what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. The more you understand about what your colleagues are going through, the better you can be at advocating for them when appropriate.
- Raise Your Hand On Their Behalf: Speaking of listening and learning...some of our greatest opportunities come from other people speaking our names when we aren’t in the room. Listen when your colleagues share what they want out of certain roles and their careers. That way, when you see an opportunity arise that would be great for them, you can speak up. Maybe you heard about a new committee opening up, and you remember that one of your colleagues mentioned being interested in getting more involved in the company in that way -- if you are in a position of power in the company, or you happen to know someone on the selection committee -- consider mentioning them for the role. Even if you aren’t a decision maker, consider mentioning the opportunity to your colleague. Maybe they hadn’t heard about it, and you can be their eyes and ears.
- Recognize Others’ Authenticity: Just as we’ve discussed self-advocacy, there are certain identity points that resonate with us that allow us to bring those authentic parts of ourselves to the workplace. How does your colleague identify? If no one else in the office acknowledges their authenticity, and you know it would mean the world to them if someone in the office “sees” them---be the one to help foster that visibility. For example, if one of your colleagues identifies with the pronouns “they” or “them,” help facilitate inclusion by addressing them in the way they have requested. As Lauryn Hill told us, “Respect is just a minimum.”
- Step Up: Have you ever been in a situation when someone at work said an off-color joke and no one said anything? Perhaps that joke was said, and you were the only woman or person of color, and it left you feeling awkward while everyone else pretended like it was not a big deal? How powerful would it have been if one of your colleagues vocalized that the joke was inappropriate and we don’t use that type of language? Or they approached you to see if you were okay, and apologized for not stepping up at that moment. These types of activities go on daily. Be the person that steps up when your colleague is feeling isolated and alone. Don’t be the person that normalizes bad workplace behavior.
A huge part of building a strong network is relationship building, and I don’t know any better way to start building stronger relationships with your colleagues than advocating and speaking up on their behalf. Again the great Lauryn Hill said, “Tell me, who I have to be to get some reciprocity.” Even though she was talking about an ex, I think if we flex our ability to advocate for others, hopefully, they will reciprocate when given the opportunity. You might be surprised by who steps up for you next time.
Each minute of the day seems to bring on another (heart)breaking news story, and I start to wonder, does self-care come at a cost? In the media, we constantly read about attacks on black women like Sandra Bland and Chikesia Clemons. Women, and especially women of color, have had to start multiple hashtag movements to rally and get some respect around here for ourselves and for each other.
Part of self-care is doing temperature checks on ourselves, as well as checking in with and supporting the other women our lives. Just because we see our friends posting “lit” pictures of themselves, doesn’t always equate to what’s going on behind the scenes in their minds and their real lives.
They say everything is bigger in Texas. While, I don’t know if that’s true, here's what I *do* know: I had the pleasure of being a speaker this weekend at one of the biggest conferences of the year in Austin, Texas: SXSW
The word authentic is defined as “of undisputed origin.” How amazing is this definition?
Many of us have been deemed as underserved because of the color of our skin or our socioeconomic background, yet, in the same breath we're asked to bring our authentic selves to work. In other words, we are asked for authenticity, but just as long as it fits neatly in the box the company has provided.
Often, I receive emails from young women asking me to serve as their mentor.** I remember what it’s like being their age, admiring so many women from afar, and wanting to tap into their magic. Heck, there are many women *today* that I consider mentors in my mind. They have no idea who I am (yet) -- I admire their business acumen and the way they choose to show up in the world. Sometimes we are lucky enough to connect with our role models, and other times we have to take notes from afar. (In our careers, we should all strive to be *both* mentors and mentees!) There are times I am not able to meet with everyone face to face who reaches out to me, but I try to make myself available via some medium.
Today, I want to share answers to the top five questions I receive around mentor and mentee relationships.