As Black people, we are strong supporters of the “drink your water and mind your business” ministry; however, there are some scenarios in which it is our duty to look out for others. One of those scenarios being in the workplace. When it comes to our employment and livelihood, it’s easy to take on an every-woman-for-herself mentality. However, we are so much better when we stick together. So, here are 10 solid ways that you can show up for the other Black women at your job:
If you see that she’s having a particularly tough day or even if her day seems to be going smoothly, never miss an opportunity to offer pleasant words of encouragement. As we strive to advance our careers in a world that is dominated by white men, there are enough voices that will be quick to tell us that we can’t. Always be the voice that says otherwise.
If you happen to notice something that your colleague is doing well, be sure to let her know. Whether it pertains to our career or just our worth in general, society is constantly sending out blatant and subliminal messages that tell us that we are less than and unworthy. Remind her that she belongs and that she is doing a great job.
Invest in her
If you are in a position to persuade your organization to invest in the advancement of her knowledge and skill set through professional development, certificate programs, tuition reimbursement, or any other programs that can help her to bolster her credentials and advance in her career, definitely do so.
Vouch for her
If you happen to hear whispers about a higher position that is about to open up and you have confidence in her abilities, definitely throw her name in the ring and see what happens. Sometimes, all it takes is someone who believes in us and vouches for us to open a new door. So often, we are overlooked and passed over for positions that we are damn well qualified for because the people with decision-making power choose not to see us.
Show her the ropes
Whether she is new to your organization or just new to your specific department, show her the ropes — professionally and otherwise. We all know that navigating a predominately white workplace as a Black woman is about more than just learning to do your job. It is so much deeper than that. Let her know who to go to for what, some common pitfalls to avoid, and if you have any insight on her specific position, the most efficient way to get certain tasks completed. She will appreciate your help.
Advocate for her
The culture of some companies makes it hard for Black women who advocate for themselves. However, history has taught us that there is strength in numbers. If you see something that is not right, say something. Speak up just like you would want someone to speak up for you. At the end of the day, we’re all we got.
Put her up on game
You don’t have to act as the office gossip, but if you know that some funny stuff is about to go down or you recognize that people are unfairly conspiring against her in some way, put her up on game. The best way to protect yourself against becoming the office scapegoat is when you can see the attack coming.
If you notice that she has made a mistake, is experiencing some sort of wardrobe malfunction, is running late for a meeting, or any other event that may bring embarrassment to her, do what you can to cover her. Pull her aside and speak to her privately. Don’t sit and watch the trainwreck unfold when it’s within your power to help.
When you’ve gotten used to being one of the only or few Black women at an organization, seeing a new Black face may make you feel as though you have some competition. Check that nonsense. The more brown faces, the better. Do not let this white supremacist society trick you into believing that another sister being around is some sort of slight to you because it’s not. There is enough space for all of us at the table.
Check your biases
As sad as it sounds, many of us are guilty of subscribing to stereotypes and holding onto implicit biases about one another. Check yourself and if you need to commit to doing some self-work to free yourself from the antiblackness that has been ingrained in your by this racist society in which we live, do it. A culturally competent therapist can definitely help you with that.