September 6, 2023

The Daily Struggles Black Women Face in the Workplace: An Unending Battle for Fairness and Representation

As Coco Gauff stood up to the umpire in her recent U.S. Open match [Gauff has gone viral on social media after confronting an umpire who turned a blind eye to her 35-year-old German opponent allegedly breaking the rules], demanding fairness in the rules that seemed to be applied differently to her and her opponent, I couldn’t help but see this as a microcosm of what black women face in workplaces every single day.

When someone from a marginalized community excels, we often see tears and reluctance from others, who may feel threatened or uneasy to follow the rules. I just can’t with the tears for ‘fairness,’ often masking underlying prejudices and biases.

Why I Do What I Do 🙋🏾‍♀️

As the VP of Talent Acquisition and DEIB for Textio, I aim to ensure everyone can walk into a workspace and feel safe and supported. But as a black woman, this mission is more than just professional; it’s personal. Coco Gauff’s experience resonates with me deeply. The times of fighting against constant microaggressions and being mistaken for other black employees (Gauff was mistaken for other black tennis players).

People may ask, “Why can’t you just focus on doing your job?” That’s the point; people want to focus on their job. But when the game is rigged against you, sometimes you have no choice but to advocate for fairness, even if it makes others uncomfortable.

Let’s Get Real

When someone is exceptional and happens to be from a marginalized group, there is often a visceral reaction from some quarters that cannot be explained by anything other than deep-seated biases. We see it in sports; we see it in tech; we see it in every field imaginable. I’ve seen these struggles firsthand, precisely why I have dedicated my career to DEIB and Talent Acquisition.

Advocate Today For a Better Tomorrow

If we don’t stand up, who will? Sometimes, you have to be the lone voice in the room demanding fairness, even if that means getting into uncomfortable confrontations.

It’s not just about one individual; it’s about setting a precedent so that others don’t face the same barriers in the future.

Just as Coco Gauff stood up for herself and received a commendation from the former First Lady Michelle Obama, let’s stand up for ourselves in our workplaces. Let’s continue to advocate for a more equitable future where those coming behind us won’t have to say, “How is this fair?”

And where were the allies?!? I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.

Originally posted here on Linkedin.

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Jackye Clayton

VP of Talent Acquisition and DEIB @ Textio | Driving DEIB Strategy