emergingfree

Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “workplace”

Life Can Turn On A Dime

You know, I am very thankful that when I was in my first professional environment after law school I was surrounded by colleagues who invested in me doing things the right way, and not in doing things for the sole purpose of making them appear right. Truth is, people are especially vulnerable when young, when entering into a profession, when starting a new job, etch.. Unfortunately, there are not enough, if any, collegiate assignments on best practices on “how to best question authority in workplace environments”. Identifying unethical situations is one thing, but what to DO when you are actually faced with them requires (uncomfortable) action. That whistleblowing mention you may get as a part of your employee orientation is simply not enough, especially if you are new, young, and/or trying to establish yourself. How could it be enough? …Two or three sentences then flip the page…Are we assuming that it does not happen (here)?

Realistically, the model many often see is that of “going along to get along”.  As a result, that is the one they most likely publicly follow. Let’s face it, challenging authority or going against the grain leads to labels such as “anti-social”, “troublemaker”, “hard to work with”, etch.. Who wants that, especially when you are new, young, and/or trying to establish yourself?

Oftentimes, people think of politics when they think of corrupt industries. Judas may come to mind, depending on the audience. Rarely do people think about the (“small”, yet numerous) seeds of corruption that are planted which desensitize a nation to cultivate putting profit before people. It’s hard to get over that “we’ve always done it like that” wall. Rarely do people think about the lack of adequate mentors and influential encouragers who, if present, would guide and push you to reach your full potential while supporting you to do the right thing EVEN WHEN it is not popular. So, what happens? People leave jobs they love. People become less available. People complain behind closed doors while a new generation enters the workforce, again unprepared to face these unspoken cycles.

I don’t know if Shani Robinson’s story is true, but I can certainly see how it could be. She was in Essence magazine a few years ago sharing her love story with her now-husband. At that time she was a 27-year old youth counselor, but before that she was a 24-year old teacher in Atlanta. Today she is a convicted felon, but before now she was a product of Teach for America, the national recruitment program that seeks to attract college graduates to the classroom.  See:  http://rollingout.com/news/details-on-convicted-atlanta-public-schools-teacher-whos-pregnant-still-faces-jail-time/

Be wise in your associations.  Be clear about your goals.  Be ready to stand by yourself.  …And know that life can turn on a dime………literally.

The Silence of Being Victimized

There I was walking in downtown Jacksonville when it happened.  It was in the mid-morning hours.  The weather was mild; skies were clear.  I was wearing a business suit, carrying court files as I was returning to my office from the courthouse.  Mentally, I was thinking about the tasks that awaited me that day.  There would be many.  My thoughts, however, were interrupted by sounds coming from across the street.  I turned my head to look.  It was happening.  The construction workers across the street were catcalling me.  How embarrassing! Mentor Needed At that time, I was only one year out of school.  I was still learning the landscape of my profession and new environment.  The family I had in the city, I did not really know.  At times it was lonely, but I was making new friends while trying to balance the stresses of adulthood.  The last thing I needed was to be sexually harassed, publicly humiliated, and degraded for being a professionally-styled woman.  My feeling of embarrassment quickly turned into being livid.  What was their point, really?  Was such attention really supposed to entice me to scurry across the street, distribute my telephone number, and wait anxiously by the telephone…or was I supposed to ask for their numbers and call them?  What happened to being my knight in shining armor?  Oh, the stories little girls are told.

While looking forward, I acted like I did not hear them.  They continued.  There were a couple of gentlemen walking on the same sidewalk as me.  They did not challenge the construction workers though, nor did they say anything to me.  I would soon be in my office building.  I would soon be safe.

You know, I never shared this experience with anyone prior to this blog entry.  When I entered the building that day, I went about working as normal.  Although I wondered if such thing had happened to any of the other women I was working with, I never asked.  I bet it had and we were just not talking about it.  The silence of being victimized does not negate the experience.  The memory is already impressed.

Dude, Hire Me!

I had a very honest conversation with a male friend of mine which has inspired this blog entry.  I truly appreciate my friend’s honesty.  The conversation left me pondering a couple of things.  I’ll touch base on a few….

So there I was, comfortably sitting on a sofa when my friend casually mentioned that he is significantly reluctant to hire women.  “WHATTTTT!!!!  WAIT…..”, I must have not heard him correctly!  Sure enough, I did.  For a split second, I struggled believing that this was his true thought.  How could my friend, a guy who I have seen debate unflinchingly in support of women earning equal pay and having equal protection under the law, have this bias.  I have seen him argue against injustices, not just on behalf of women but on behalf of other oppressed groups as well.  Surely he did not admit that his personal preference is to hire men because to him a man will always be his best candidate for any non-domestic job, did he?  YES, he did.

I resisted the temptation to argue with him.  Whatever he said would be unsatisfactory to me.  Anyway, I was more interested in determining how my friend could hold and potentially practice this view.  He explained his position, typical opinions I have heard before.  We would have to agree to disagree.

Mentor Needed

I left our conversation that day with many thoughts.  I still wonder how many men in hiring positions share his views.  Such practices, when gender is replaced by race/colorism, seem easier to spot and more commonly shamed…at least in theory.  The issue, at least with my friend, is not a question of “qualification”.  It is the idea of the traditional roles of women, minus the barefoot part (I hope).  In a society where so many women are financially heading households, in many cases singlehandedly, can she realistically expect to reach the top of her professional and financial ladders, even in situations when the entry door is slightly cracked for her entry?  Do women have a responsibility to help each other succeed?  Is such collective operation necessary for her individual success?  My thoughts…my thoughts…these are only a few…only to be met with that last one of, “am I the only one with them”.

I am happy that not all men follow this practice.  I have been hired by both men and women.  In turn, I have hired both men and women. Both genders have helped me further my career.  Both have tried to hinder it.  I have learned that not everyone is comfortable with a strong, opinionated, educated, professional, and in my case minority-labeled woman.  Let’s face it, when found outside of our traditional roles women make a lot of people uncomfortable.  Oh well, we are here now.  If “dude” won’t hire me, I will be left to determine whether I should hire “dude”.

Boss

To succeed in a dog eat dog world, do you have to be a dog…or as some have said, a bitch? Advancing in a male-dominated profession, in a male-dominated world cultivates certain characteristic traits that oftentimes are rewarded when presented from a male’s shell. Things like maintaining high standards of performance, asserting confidence, understanding that time is important, being extensively knowledgeable and prepared are all welcomed from him. The same is not always true when housed in those of us who are females. Why is this? Are these traits appreciated or is it the male’s body from which they appear that routinely garners the applause?

Long ago are the days when the dreams of girls were limited to that of marry and motherhood. We believed you when you said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” We believed you, at least some of us did, and so our journey began.

Boss

So when we show up as entrepreneurs, attorneys, judges, physicians, chief executive officers, department heads, accountants, presidents, police officers, fire fighters, architectures, athletes, etc.—the title of which we hold should not be disrespected because of the duplication of our sex chromosome. Whispers should not be uttered by other women when our tone takes a serious turn to emphasize the importance of a point. When she has a professional aura in a professional setting, it should not equate to her snobbery, rudeness, or standoffishness when she is simply doing her job. Instead, support her. If she succeeds, chances are your promotional possibilities increase. True…if she barks, she may bite. Still…don’t call her bitch. She is BOSS.

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