I talk a good game, I really do. I’m not going to lie, being a mom in the ad biz is hard as hell. Late nights, work trips, emailing during a talent show (I see you). Even from a position of privilege — I can afford full-time day care, I have a partner who is supportive and pushes me toward new challenges, and family in-town who are willing to pitch in — it’s hard.Read More
Earlier this week I had an interview with a woman-owned company that sells to national retailers. The owner of the company is a white woman who doesn’t have a college-degree and refers to herself as "self-made". Most of the employees are also white females. Though, scrolling through their team online, I did see several Asian males and females and a few polished white males. The recruiter who connected me to the position let me know they had just hired a Colombian man to join their international sales team — but, basically, in the office and on the website, there were no brown people.
With this context in mind, I reviewed the feedback they provided after my interview:
I got very similar feedback to this after a phone interview with another company more than a year ago, so I wanted to deeply consider this feedback. For reference, the interview with the other company was also an interview with a white woman, who owned her own business prior to taking her current role just a few months earlier. Since it was a phone interview, I don't know whether race was a part of the equation, but a simple LinkedIn query would reveal me as a black woman.
I often feel white women pride themselves on their independence, but are intimidated by that same characteristic in women of color.
Why is thriving in an independent contractor role a detriment to my future role? Because I enjoyed independence, does that mean I can't also enjoy collaboration? Getting past the initial disappointment in failing to land the role, I spoke with several friends and professional coaches who validated my feeling that this was an instance of white saviorism and white feminism.
My experience has been that white women want to support black women, but only on their terms and conditions. These white women wanted a new hire to add some diversity, but if they had the option of hiring a black woman who demonstrated a past of failures and hardships, rather than a successful black woman who was "self-made", would they have?
I shared the feedback in an email thread of close friends. A white male colleague responded briefly, “it does seem like a coded way of saying they think you’d be difficult.”
The thread was forwarded around and landed in the inbox of a white female hiring manager who thoughtfully responded with the following analysis:
This experience is different than not landing a job because you are overqualified or because you didn’t pass a personality quiz. This design director leading the interview commented that she was “wondering about how [I] would mesh with [owner of the business].”
That statement seems like an opportunity to bring me in for a second interview, to meet the owner of the company. Why wouldn't I get along with the business owner? We were both, after all, “self-made” women. Her background is in industrial design, mine is in fabrication and architecture.
The idea that I wouldn’t be a good “culture fit” and that I might be difficult to work with, after spending less than an hour with me, felt problematic. I don’t think a culture fit is something a diverse workplace is looking for — I think a cultural fit is something that the agency and the employee should mutually work toward.
Black women have historically been excluded from feminism, and it felt important for me to share this modern-day encounter with a women-owned business in this current climate of white-centered female activism and inclusive hiring practices.
This happened earlier this week — then today I interviewed with an Asian male creative director at an agency. I spoke about my experience building a direct-to-client design service over the past several years. He shared that, “many people who work here have that entrepreneurial spirit.” I’m sharing all of this to say…. As WOC in the workplace we can reclaim our power by recognizing that we are also interviewing potential employers. If your assets are being perceived as burdens or if your past experience is being perceived as intimidating, then you have to ask yourself whether that workplace is the right fit for you.
// written by Kelsi Sharp
I want to preface everything I’m about to say with this: I work at an organization, with a male CEO and male superiors and coworkers who are supportive of the women who work beside them, myself included. We are empowered to do our best. I have never been made to feel like I could not do my job because I am a woman. Quite the opposite. I’m fortunate, however, working in an industry where women are the minority, I still face some challenges. So I wanted to share my experience with the social dynamics of being a woman working in a male-dominated industry.
I can pinpoint the point where I became “one of the guys” to my teen years. My desire to get boys to like me led me to become heavily interested in sports. As an adult, now, my love of sports and my passion for working in the sports industry is authentic, but it did originate from this place of wanting to be “one of the guys.” Working in a male-dominated industry, like sports, is like getting paid to be one of the guys. Fortunately for me, it works because I kind of am one of the guys. But as a woman, that only gets you so far.
I’ll admit that in my three plus months of working for a major sports team, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that there are things my boss (a man) can do simply because he is a man. My role consists of interacting with male athletes, many of whom are my age. My boss can form relationships with these athletes much more easily and quickly than I can because he’s a man.
Men feel more comfortable around men, just as women generally feel more comfortable around women. But I’ve always felt comfortable around men who were my peers, and sometimes made male friends easier than female friends. So in navigating how to get to know these new coworkers of mine, it was frustrating to see things unfold more easily for my boss than for me. Once I got over that (and myself honestly), I focused on finding different ways to connect.
I’m still a woman, and to a point, I do second-guess how I behave so I don’t give off the wrong impression, sometimes restraining myself in ways that are contradictory to who I am. It is incredibly frustrating to feel like you can’t act like yourself. So what do I do? Honestly, I stopped caring about how I came off to others and just acted like me. And it’s worked.
In that process, however, I’ve had to appear on my game all the time around these guys, so they know I take my job seriously and I’m not someone they can push around. Recently, my boss told me he had asked one of the players what the team thought about me. He said they thought I was great, but definitely didn’t put up their shit. I loved this answer.
This last weekend, I was on my second solo away game with the team and it was the first time I felt like they were 100% comfortable around me. I was so proud of that.
I know that I’m fortunate and have a resilient personality that makes being around so many men easier, and that this isn’t always the case for many women.
Is this fair? Probably not. It doesn’t really matter if it’s fair, because wherever we go, as women, we need to work just a little harder for the things we want anyway. And in the end, that works toward our advantage because women are so much more resilient as a result. So embrace the struggle and own who you are. Use it to your advantage. Be one of the guys and then add a flare of femininity and push those around you to be better.
In the end the girl who tried to be “one of the guys” to get guys to like her, authentically became one of the guys — one who loves her heels on gameday. My love of sports fueled my desire to work in sports and today, I’m working in my dream job.
/written by Gaby Lozada
/image by Abigail Keenan
What if you knew what your co-worker’s salary was?
More importantly, what if they were making $10,000 more, and you had both been at the same company and on the same team, and had very similar job titles? To top it off, your workloads were nearly the same for an entire year.
Would you know how to approach that conversation to ask for a raise?
If you don’t know the right questions to ask — and personally, I didn’t know for the longest time — you may end up not only feeling completely embarrassed, but more than anything, confused.
You don’t get to just walk up to your boss and say, “I’d like a raise because I know that Daniel is making $10,000 more than me and we’re doing the same job.”
Have you had weekly discussions with Daniel regarding what his work load is? If you don’t know what he’s working on, what he’s accomplished or his past experience, you may be in for a surprise.
One of the panelists talked about an instance where she received a job offer for a position similar to one her male friend held at the same organization. She asked him what salary was and she realized she was offered $10,000 less.
Of course, she asked why. They explained his education, background and experience were considered when they extended him an offer. Without skipping a beat, she connected her background to his experience and demonstrated that she was just as qualified as he was. They went through three rounds of questions and she was able to speak confidently about her qualifications and how they matched (or exceeded) his in each round.
What happened? They matched her counter.
I came away from this panel with a great deal of information. There were so many notes I could take as immediate action items — and nearly every topic covered was so powerful you could hear gasps from the crowd about once every 10 minutes.
“We tend to see our employees as competitors, not as allies. Your salary is an opportunity to go ask questions and raise concerns together.” -Adriane Brown
One thing I learned is that you should ask the company the salary range for the job. If you think that offer is too low based on conversations you’ve had with others in the same line of work, but you still really want the job, there are other ways for them to potentially match the compensation you believe you’re worth.
Any questions you aren’t comfortable asking your potential future boss, you should ask HR.
"Go to HR to ask the questions you may not be comfortable asking the hiring manager." -Sianneh Mulbah
Yes, that might be intimidating, but isn’t it worth asking?
You must be able to stand up for yourself and speak to your skills.
Additionally, if you’ve been at a company for an extended period of time and you haven’t had a raise in two years, document what you’ve done in your work that reflects how much you’ve grown in your skill set and in your role. It doesn’t have to be — nor should it be — strictly be about past work and the value you’ve added in your tenure, but rather how you see yourself continuing to develop your skills and add value to the company, your team and/or boss. Remember this part too: the company has chosen to invest in you to make sure you have the tools you need to grow and remain competitive. If you’ve been meeting the expectations of what is required of you, you know what to do.
/written by Rachel Ryan
A Note from MPLS MadWomen
We Aren’t Responsible for Closing the Gap, But Someone’s Got To
One of the most powerful things to come out of the panel were some takeaways on what we can do to help close the gap. Some were personal tips for negotiating and learning how we can ask for what we deserve. We’ve summed up some of these insights in a handy flowchart to help you know when the time is right to ask for more money. Take a look!
We also want you to know that we took Lisa Stratton’s advice to “get involved in the public policy arena to heart.” Earlier this year, we started connecting with legislators and groups like ERA Minnesota looking to do our part to get an Equal Rights Amendment passed in Minnesota. We’ll be rolling out more information on this exciting initiative in the coming months and we’ll definitely be needing your help, so keep an eye out for more on how you can join us in this important work.
January is always a refreshing time to list out your goals and set yourself up for success for the New Year. If you’re anything like me, you have a number of things you want to accomplish listed out and ready to tackle. It’s nice to look at this list and feel inspired and motivated, but let’s fast forward to April, or May when the New Year’s resolution mojo isn’t so strong… It comes as no surprise that your “inspo” might fade but when it comes to goals, you need to track your success. Literally, every day.Read More
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