We’re still Making Our Way Up but before we continue, let’s take a beat…a moment to rest and reflect on the gems that have been dropped so far.
When it comes to most, if not all things in life, our diversity is our strength. But too often women of color experience discrimination as a result of not fitting the “status quo,” especially in professional settings. In fact, Statistics Canada reports: “Racialized women are more likely to experience unemployment than women who do not identify themselves as visible minorities,” and even when employed, “women continue to be under-represented in executive and decision-making positions, accounting for 1 in 4 senior managers in Canada, or about 1 in 5 board members, compared to nearly 1 in 2 workers nationally.”
Since the top of the year, we’ve heard from talented and skilled Black women across various industries on how they overcome the challenge of trying to make a living (and a career) while Black in Canada. They shared their horror stories — from being overworked, to being asked to “block the sun,” to being shouted at and disrespected all for asking a colleague for help with a faulty printer. Those stories are important to hear. The ladies who spoke up are but a small representation of what is happening to so many like them.
So. How does one work on combating systemic racism in the workforce?
Well, for one, recognize that anything ‘systemic’ does not fall on one individual to change. And as a Black woman, it definitely is not your burden to carry alone.
As Sara, Aminata, Oumalker Idil, and Jessica share, it’s important
- To know your worth
- Learn how to say no
- Set your boundaries
- Work on your self-confidence and value yourself
- Affirm yourself
- Ask questions
- Find resources that support and validate what you’re going through
- Find your professional tribe
Not all of these companies are truly inclusive. Once you realize that, know that it is okay to choose yourself and quit. “Quitting is a promotion you give yourself,” begins Oumalker Idil, “there’s no job worth your mental health.” In order to Make Your Way Up, you have to be willing to make space for yourself to grow…and you can’t grow amidst an ecosystem that doesn’t even realize it’s suffocating you.
Quitting is a promotion you give yourself…there’s no job worth your mental health.”Oumalker Idil Kalif
We recognize that the right environment is so important, as well as the need to be nurtured professionally, so we wrap up this campaign with an opportunity for racialized women to tap into an invaluable network of boss women leaders across various industries. The hope is that our Cohort learns, grows, and creates meaningful and lasting connections that will support them on their journey as they make their way all the way up.
Thank you to Sara Mbala, Aminata Planchon, Oumalker Idil Kalif, Jessica Angui, and to everyone who has shared their experience with us. If you would like to listen to the stories of these women, and others like them, visit our website (makingyourwayup.com) and our Instagram page (Sayaspora).
(Richards, 2019; Statistique Canada, 2019; Statistique Canada, 2020; Statistique Canada, 2021).
Josie Fomé is a multimedia Journalist with a keen interest on issues related to the African Continent and the African diaspora. She has international experience in community facilitation, radio show production and documentary film making. She has a passion for reshaping and creating new narratives surrounding the African continent and the African diaspora through story telling in all its forms.