Updated: May 31, 2020
About a year and half ago, my friend and I sat in my Brussels apartment contemplating our futures over mimosas. She had just had a tough week at work and was having a moment of questioning her talent. She was not feeling like she had real authority in her new role. Rather it felt like a marketing gimmick, and as one of the few women of color in her office, she was the perfect token representation of the effort the company was putting into this new direction.
I disagreed with her.
I reassured her that she was an incredible talent and the new responsibilities spoke to that. Sometimes you have bad weeks and that's it. But bad weeks are more than just that for people like us.
Women of color are a rare sight in the corporate world and even more so in leadership positions. While there is a well recognized phenomenon of the glass ceiling for women and a lot of action around it, there is not enough discussion about the intersectional aspect of this phenomenon, specifically with race.
In a 2019 study by McKinsey and Lean- in found that women of color held only 4% of C-suite positions falling far below white men (68%) and white women (19%) in corporate America. And it's not like we don’t want corporate success. In a study by Catalyst , 87% of black women in particular, wanted to remain in the same organization and be an influential leader.
So how come this is not happening often enough?
The challenges that women of color face in the corporate world are multilayered. These include microaggressions, double standards, and unconscious bias to name a few. Additionally, women of color are less likely to receive mentoring and sponsorship critical for advancement in the workplace. Lastly women of color are often held to a much higher standard than their white and male peers and presumed to be less qualified despite their credentials, work product or business results.
My friend came to me because she knew I would be the one person who would understand what she was going through. Like her I go through cycles of the same feelings from time to time; imposter syndrome, tokenism and living with microaggressions. We also both realised that afternoon that we barely hear our stories.
I am a huge consumer of content from people of color in the blogging and podcasting world and the trending topics are entrepreneurship and travel amongst others. There is no real content, or spaces we know, dedicated to people like us, black and brown girls with dreams to become the first black female CEO of a fortune 500 company.
I decided to do something about it.
I want to introduce you to my latest project, BsquaredC: Black, Badass and Corporate.
BsquaredC is a multimedia storytelling brand FOR, WITH and ABOUT women of color in the corporate world. Under this brand I will be consolidating my story telling through writing, speaking engagements, career coaching and podcasting.
I am most excited about my podcast. On the BsquaredC podcast, I will be bringing you wisdom from my career and observations as well as through interviews with some badass women of color I know who are challenging the narrative of leadership in their companies.
I must say though I am little terrified of this project. Being a person of color in the corporate world carries a lot of weight. We all have been taught to curate our images in the corporate world to fit in and protect ourselves. So will my interviewees truly open up? What if they tell me a story and it gets back to their HR, and they get in trouble?
Despite these fears I AM DOING IT ANYWAY.
BsquaredC is an expression of my career journey and ambition. I want to create and hold space for others like me, because our dreams in the corporate world are valid. Most of all, I want some little Black, Indian, Asian and Latina girl out there to know if we are doing it, so can they!
DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THE MOVEMENT?
Check out the BsquaredC website and sign up for my mailing list so you do not miss any updates.
Follow the BsquaredC social media pages
Women in the Workplace 2019. Mckinsey and LeanIn, 2019
Women of Color Get Less Support at Work. Here’s How Managers Can Change That, Harvard Business Review, 2019