What If We Changed the Game?

This post was originally published on The Voice of AAF DC on March 8, 2019.

“The reality is, money is a boy’s club.” – Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder & CEO, Ellevest

You know what Sallie means … that underlying network of male camaraderie within the workplace. They promote from within the ranks, control access to professional advancement, and dole out or revoke power as they see fit.

But what if women put a new set of rules into play? What if we changed the game, once and for all?

The 3 Percent Movement

Enter The 3 Percent Movement. Until this wave of reform, only 3% of creative directors in the advertising industry were women — and even fewer were people of color. But contrary to its name, the 3 Percent Movement is shattering advertising’s glass roof by going beyond just 3%.

So what does that mean for us advertisers? It’s a clarion call to find the best people so we can make the best work so we can make a profit … and, ultimately, change the advertising landscape. By challenging the status quo and changing the ratio, the 3 Percent Movement has given agencies like Golin a clear road map of how to champion female creative talent and leadership. (The new Ad-women site also helps the cause.)

International Women’s Day 2019: #BalanceforBetter

Feeling unwelcome in meetings, business events, and networking opportunities is becoming the norm for women in an era when they are instead being encouraged to “Lean In.” It’s tough to climb the corporate ladder when the scales are off-balance and expectations remain unchanged.

That’s where International Women’s Day comes into play. Observed on March 8th, this day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.

We’re at a critical point in history: As a society, we have the power to stabilize the gender equality scales. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements established that this is not a women’s issue — it’s a world issue. The advertising industry, every other professional industry, and society as a whole cannot move forward if we do not share the responsibility of shifting towards a gender-balanced world.

The 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign doesn’t end on International Women’s Day. (March 8th is just the tip of the gender equality iceberg.) But it does start now, as you strike the #BalanceforBetter pose to signify that you are ready to make a positive difference for women everywhere.

Make International Women’s Day YOUR day by sharing your “hands out” balance pose and message to the world on social media with the hashtag #IWD2019. By using this strong call-to-action, you’re letting others know that you’re not only ready for change, but ready to #BalanceforBetter. On International Women’s Day 2019 and beyond, how will you #BalanceforBetter?

A Black Woman’s Journey in Corporate America

This post was originally published on The Black Detour on March 4, 2018.

I think about code-switching a lot.

What started as a phrase to describe how a person alternates between two or more languages in a single conversation has been adopted as a term that represents how minorities change their body language, vernacular, existence…when switching from less formal to more formal settings.

Enter Corporate America.

The constant shifting of one’s personality for acceptance is generally exhausting to those of us who try their hardest to live life authentically. Consider all the times you’ve changed the tone and pitch of your voice on a phone interview or forced your ‘fro into a bun hoping for fewer stares and no questions. I guarantee you that often times you’ve done these things unknowingly. It almost feels like second nature to you.

Corporate America was not created as a space for black people to be comfortable.

I know you would think that for as long as we’ve been infiltrating these spaces, that they would begin to adjust, accommodate, and accept us but that’s just not the case. ‘Blackness’ precedes us all and Papa Pope said it best: “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.” The odds are not in our favor – even less as a black woman.

In society, women are treated with less respect, considered to be less intelligent, more emotional and overall not as good as men. Now, paint this woman the shade of brown sugar and watch the descriptions swing to ‘loud,’ ‘ghetto,’ and ultimately, undeserving. It’s a double-edged sword and if you even think of swinging first, you’re the antagonist.

I’m sure if we all came together in a room and gave accounts of the times we experienced micro-aggression’s, subtle jarring comments or blatant racism in the workplace, we would be floored by the realization that most times, code-switching doesn’t make a bit of a difference.

Due to this understanding on our part and the great Auntie Maxine Waters leading the way, we’ve begun reclaiming our time. Our space. Our purpose in Corporate America. There is an ongoing silencing and under-representation of women and people of color everywhere. Despite us being the saviors, the fixers, the defenders of almost everything, whether we stand in the forefront or are the Hidden Figures, society continues to waste not only our time but also our voices and know-how.

But when things go wrong, someone somewhere is calling out: “Where’s the black lady?!”

Rather than continuing on the same path of bending a knee to a non-representative system that disrespects, fails to protect and persists on neglecting black women and their contributions to social movements, pop culture memes, and big brands, take back code-switching.

Change your stature, be loud, make your hair bigger and taller, and etch out a true space in Corporate America.