Guest post by Claudia Chan (learn more about the author at the end of the article):
Role models are one of the most important factors in helping us see what we can become. But minority women can often feel like it’s difficult to find role models who look like the people they see in the mirror each morning.
If your company isn’t diverse, take the initiative to find a role model you can relate to outside your organization. You may have to make more effort to find a successful woman like you whose accomplishments you can learn from, but you will be amazed by the incredible things women of color are doing in our world today.
They may not be in my same field, but I draw inspiration every single day from women like Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success, and Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International.
In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about seeking and speaking your truth at work. For those who grow up in close-knit families of recent immigrants, this can take on even more significance. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I understand how strong cultural expectations from family and communities can be for women of color. But, the truth is, we all have to summon the strength to identify and pursue our own passion in our career and life, even if it isn’t what our parents or friends would choose for us.
If your community doesn’t agree with your choice of profession or your desire to fully commit to career success, you have to seek out people who will. Join a professional group or consider hiring a life coach who can help you navigate the challenges of going against the grain of your community’s ideas of what is right for you.
At work, it can be even more daunting to speak up when the company is making a decision that is insensitive to people of different backgrounds, but it’s important to remember that part of the value you bring to your organization is being able to help others see things from a different point of view. Remember that companies are stronger when they consider how their decisions affect everyone, and that your own community perspective is an important part of that.
Find the courage to speak up for diversity initiatives and to take initiative in planning events and programs that address the needs of minorities at your company. Importing and driving change inside corporations is just as significant as doing it in the broader society and world. Remember that your ability to help speak the truth for your community is an asset, not a limitation.
About the Author
Claudia Chan is the founder of ClaudiaChan.com and S.H.E. Summit Week and is a leading expert in the field of female empowerment. She can be reached for one-on-one interactions through her profile on Maestro Market.