Corporate America can have its ups and downs, but sometimes when you’re trying to climb up the ladder the person usually trying to stop your progression is not who you would expect it to be.
I recall starting a position at a top marketing agency. My first day, I realized that there was a total of six people of color out of 70 employees. As soon as I got a chance I decided to introduce myself. Five of the six introductions went well, I planned to schedule a lunch with each of them to see if I could form some type of working friendship with them. When I introduced myself to the last woman I immediately felt an air of “snobby-ness,” and I got the classic up and down. We all know the “up and down.” Most people will resort to this rude gesture in order to size you up.
That day, I realized she was going to be the downer in the group. For the first couple of weeks I continued speak to her everyday, even though she kept giving me a fake smile. We were both in the same position, and with her being there for almost a year and me the newbie, she must of have felt threatened. If she would have ever talked to me she would have known that I was only there to gain experience with a big named agency to build my resume and move on to bigger and better things.
Sadly, this was not the first time, and I’m sure not the last time that I would experience this mess. During my stunt with the agency I was forced to ask myself, “why do so many women of color pull each other down in Corporate America?” Now, I am not naive, I know this type of behavior happens everywhere and not just in Corporate America and not with just women and men of color. The facts are we are still outnumbered in Corporate America 20 to 1, and some of us still don’t see the importance of keeping and building each other up and hopefully aid in bringing others in as well.
So, where does that stem from? We as women of color have constantly fought against each other for years over men, hair length, skin complexion and even school affiliation. Before I jump the gun, I know other races, even Caucasians have this problem, but ours is much serious due to the lack of our presence.
My dream and goal for African American women is to try to always help each other out. I am asking for each and every woman to stop being catty, intimidated and snobby to each other and start being a mentor, friend or accepting colleague in corporate America. I ask my sisters and brothers to give someone a chance before you jump to any conclusions or miss out on a great professional friendship due to being afraid of being replaced or out performed.