Five Ways Women Of Color Can Join The 'Boss Boom'

Photo courtesy of ColorComm

CNN's Fredricka Whitfield presents women with achievement awards at an event in Miami, FL.

As women of color are filling more management roles, it’s important to recognize that getting to that point has been no easy feat. There are hurdles that women, particularly women of color, continuously face at the workplace. After many years, Wall Street is finally pushing for more women of color to be included on corporate boards. However, Silicon Valley has a long way to go before its diversity gap can finally be closed once and for all. But this doesn’t mean the power isn’t in your hands. The push to become Directors, VPs and CEOs should continue to be top of mind. It may take some additional work, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Here are five ways women of color can join the Boss Boom:

1. Have Advocates Who Don’t Look Like You

It’s important to surround yourself with people who can advocate your work and speak on your behalf when you’re not in the room. But what’s even more important is to have a wide-range of advocates. It is not enough to have people who are at the same level or look like you say how good of a leader you are. This can create bias and show that you are unable to garner “buy-in” at all levels. Being a boss will entail managing a wide variety of people, so having such advocates can only boost your visibility and push you up the ladder.

2. Mentor Down, Not Up

You’ll learn just as much mentoring down versus up. When thinking of a mentor, often one assumes that a mentor should be someone older because they will be wiser and can offer more in terms of career direction. However, finding someone to look up to isn’t as hard as finding some to look “down” to. Finding younger mentors enables fresh thinking, new ideas and gives insight into the type of people you’ll likely manage in the future. The younger generation is well in tuned with technology, often offers faster ways to complete assignments, and tends to be creative and innovative. They haven’t been doing their role forever and they are able to provide a fresh and new outlook in the industry they are in.

3. Gain Live Connections

Often we get into the work rut and keep up with our connections without having to see them live. Whether connecting on LinkedIn or participating in conference calls, much business can be done without having a face-to-face meeting. It’s important to get outside of your bubble and to keep up with your connections in-person. I know your time is limited, but consider meeting new colleagues for coffee, lunch, or after work events and keep the meeting to one hour maximum. Another time saver is to have colleagues meet in your office. That allows for a face-to-face meeting but cuts down on your travel time. Spending time with new contacts, potential business partners and mentors/mentees strengthens relationships when done face to face.

4. Nominate Yourself for Industry Awards

Have you achieved something that deserves recognition? Submit yourself for awards or recognition that will bring more eyes on the awesome work you’re doing. It’s up to you to gain more visibility and show how you are leading the way in your role. Often times, there is the same group of people being nominated for awards and you often see a cluster of folks hop from list to list. It’s your responsibility to showcase the variety in your industry by making people aware of who you are, your career journey, and accomplishments.

Don’t wait for your company to nominate you. Nominate yourself, enlist a mentor or ask your professional network to submit a nomination on your behalf. Take the charge on garnering your own recognition and self-promotion. This can help foster greater value of you and your role in senior management, which ultimately leads to greater opportunities in and outside of the office.

5. Broaden Your Horizons

Join groups and organizations that broaden your horizons. If you feel slightly uncomfortable, you’re likely in the right room because you’re in a new space that is not as familiar to you. Take a break from the women’s and diversity groups and do some research on what’s out there. What if you joined a group where you were one of a few women, or participated in an activity that had another racial demographic leading the charge? Expand your horizons by doing less of the same and more of what causes you to think. This type of practice leads to growth, and growth leads to upward mobility.

">Photo courtesy of ColorComm

CNN's Fredricka Whitfield presents women with achievement awards at an event in Miami, FL.

As women of color are filling more management roles, it’s important to recognize that getting to that point has been no easy feat. There are hurdles that women, particularly women of color, continuously face at the workplace. After many years, Wall Street is finally pushing for more women of color to be included on corporate boards. However, Silicon Valley has a long way to go before its diversity gap can finally be closed once and for all. But this doesn’t mean the power isn’t in your hands. The push to become Directors, VPs and CEOs should continue to be top of mind. It may take some additional work, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Here are five ways women of color can join the Boss Boom:

1. Have Advocates Who Don’t Look Like You

It’s important to surround yourself with people who can advocate your work and speak on your behalf when you’re not in the room. But what’s even more important is to have a wide-range of advocates. It is not enough to have people who are at the same level or look like you say how good of a leader you are. This can create bias and show that you are unable to garner “buy-in” at all levels. Being a boss will entail managing a wide variety of people, so having such advocates can only boost your visibility and push you up the ladder.

2. Mentor Down, Not Up

You’ll learn just as much mentoring down versus up. When thinking of a mentor, often one assumes that a mentor should be someone older because they will be wiser and can offer more in terms of career direction. However, finding someone to look up to isn’t as hard as finding some to look “down” to. Finding younger mentors enables fresh thinking, new ideas and gives insight into the type of people you’ll likely manage in the future. The younger generation is well in tuned with technology, often offers faster ways to complete assignments, and tends to be creative and innovative. They haven’t been doing their role forever and they are able to provide a fresh and new outlook in the industry they are in.

3. Gain Live Connections

Often we get into the work rut and keep up with our connections without having to see them live. Whether connecting on LinkedIn or participating in conference calls, much business can be done without having a face-to-face meeting. It’s important to get outside of your bubble and to keep up with your connections in-person. I know your time is limited, but consider meeting new colleagues for coffee, lunch, or after work events and keep the meeting to one hour maximum. Another time saver is to have colleagues meet in your office. That allows for a face-to-face meeting but cuts down on your travel time. Spending time with new contacts, potential business partners and mentors/mentees strengthens relationships when done face to face.

4. Nominate Yourself for Industry Awards

Have you achieved something that deserves recognition? Submit yourself for awards or recognition that will bring more eyes on the awesome work you’re doing. It’s up to you to gain more visibility and show how you are leading the way in your role. Often times, there is the same group of people being nominated for awards and you often see a cluster of folks hop from list to list. It’s your responsibility to showcase the variety in your industry by making people aware of who you are, your career journey, and accomplishments.

Don’t wait for your company to nominate you. Nominate yourself, enlist a mentor or ask your professional network to submit a nomination on your behalf. Take the charge on garnering your own recognition and self-promotion. This can help foster greater value of you and your role in senior management, which ultimately leads to greater opportunities in and outside of the office.

5. Broaden Your Horizons

Join groups and organizations that broaden your horizons. If you feel slightly uncomfortable, you’re likely in the right room because you’re in a new space that is not as familiar to you. Take a break from the women’s and diversity groups and do some research on what’s out there. What if you joined a group where you were one of a few women, or participated in an activity that had another racial demographic leading the charge? Expand your horizons by doing less of the same and more of what causes you to think. This type of practice leads to growth, and growth leads to upward mobility.

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