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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

This post is a reaction to Black Enterprise’s recent article on the state of African American women’s apparent inability to get the corner office in corporate America. The resource is a study from the Executive Leadership Council and the Executive Leadership Foundation.

I suggest you read the article first before you read my post so that you can get a better sense of the content.

In not so subtle ways the findings don’t say anything that I didn’t already know – but what really annoys me is how these findings don’t provide any meaningful insight into how Black women can push through the corporate America log jam…if they so choose.

Find a White Guy

According to BE, Black women severely lack “strategic” relationships in their relationship arsenal. Such relationships are defined as connections with senior level officers most different from themselves. 

In other words, they don’t hang out with enough white men. BE tiptoes around the idea that Black women are probably not aligning themselves with enough of them (or anybody who matters) to make a difference in their career.

And, depending on where you are in the corporate food chain – you’re so far removed from them, your best bet is to hope they trip over you at the next all-staff meeting.

Get a Cheerleader

The first point was about finding a specific mentor. This second point is more about finding someone who can:

  • Give you feed back
  • Understand your strengths
  • Scream your holy praises right through the glass ceiling

Essentially, existing in a professional vacuum is not ideal. Duh. We get that. Do the white men get to wear cheerleading skirts?

Hire a house manager – or find a house husband

Aiming for a cushy senior level position may demand that your strong black motherhood  (or attempts at it) go out the window (I guess Michelle Obama is the only exception to this?).

I’m not sure what ELC means by this since college educated and professional Black women are already marrying and having children later in life (compared to their white counterparts). 

Avoid the secretary route at all costs

I’m cheating a little bit here because this “strategy” (and the next one) come from an interview Workforce Magazine did with Carl Brooks, president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council. I couldn’t get the link for it, so here is a portion of the interview: 

WM:

Another problem for African American women is a misunderstanding of their capabilities. How do the jobs they hold influence that perception?

Brooks:

The advice in this research is that if you seek an operational position at the top level, you need to stay focused on that and not move so easily to staff or administrative positions in corporate America.

Your network already sucks

I’m sure Penelope Trunk would love this one. Brooks states that a Black woman’s network is highly social versus professionally strategic. Because this is so, Black women lack the options for opportunistic entry into valuable and professionally strategic relationships.

WM:

What is holding back African American women?

Brooks:

The networks for African American females were considered social than strategic. They know each other , they know the family makeup of each other, they socialize together. But they didn’t have the strategic ingredient that would allow them to advance and ask each other for support and endorsements. Without that, no one moves to senior levels in any corporation.

In short, your momma’s church friends, cousins, girlfriends at old jobs and your lunch buddy can’t do crap for you, jobwise that is.

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Constructive Termination – Yes, your manager is trying to get you to quit

Socioeconomic Affirmative Action – More reasons for white males to sue their employers

Director of Human Interest – Saatchi & Saatchi’s job title for their HR guy, Seth Wolk

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Photo Credit: Inju @Flickr

Photo Credit: Inju @Flickr

You’ll do what comes naturally – or not

Folks who blog are folks who want to blog. Fellow bloggers, quit wasting your breath (or blog posts) on telling people they should blog for a better career.

They won’t do it and they’ll give you dumb excuses. And, if they do blog – it’s not because you advised them to. The blog-curious only need validation of what they will (inevitably) decide to do. 

Just like a writer will try to use any outlet to showcase her creativity or a marketer that wants to highlight his insights– people with ideas will already have pursued blogging.

They’re doing it now.

Which brings me to my next point.

More blogosphere for me

The blogosphere can function in a vacuum. There are all these seperate blobs of communities that crop up around bloggers (read: personalities). There’s lot of opinions on how to engage non-bloggersor get more folks to blog or get respect for blogging blah blah blah.

I say: stop.

Granted, there are a ba-jillion crappy blogs, but there are just as many good ones as well. Your relevancy to the blogging community isn’t going to instantaneously diminish because you didn’t get more people to blog.

It only diminishes when you aren’t able to share, develop and reconstruct ideas and connections. People who don’t know how to connect with that possibility have no business blogging.

I’m not telling you to rob a liquor store

Blogging is like a dirty word to some people. If you suggest it, they start gasping like you’re trying to convince them that prostitution is merely speed dating. These notions are fine when you’ve at least tried blogging (or speed dating). 

Non-bloggers only seem to concentrate on the irrelevancies of blogging, how it has nothing to do with them (or the “real world”) and insist on questioning it’s usefulness. But value and relevancy are not always one in the same.

They intersect at different points. And, I’d be more interested in engaging people who are trying to figure that out.

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Image courtesy of www.paper-source.com

Image courtesy of http://www.paper-source.com

I picked up these calling cards from the Paper Source on Chicago Avenue last week.

I’m too cheap (now) to create my own business cards – but it beats writing my contact info on scrap notes and post its. If you are a stationary junke (or craft nut) this store will be your orgasmic Utopia.

Also, they have really cool crafting workshops and uber-wonderful discount sales.

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Why not go further in political science? Why not go to law school?

What does that have to do with me interviewing for an assistant position in the Fundraising department? And, if I had gone to law school, I think I’d be more than a tad overqualifed for this job. I wouldn’t be interviewing for this job at all.

Better yet, two words: Excuse me?

I think you’re too smart for this job – but I’ll hire you anyway.

Let’s not bring up the huge elephant in the room – OK? You’ll only make me feel worse.

I just want to know if you enjoy perfoming data entry for 8 hours a day.

Um, how does that translate on a resume? I’d like to meet the person, however, who actually does enjoy that.

How do you deal with difficult people?

Technically, this is a valid (but very stupid and poorly executed) interview question. It’s like asking people, “What do you do when you’re bored?” It’s too ambiguous and open-ended. 

Also, it’s really suspicious – are we talking about someone in particular? (the answer: YES!)

I only want to interview people who have done external company communications for 5 years.

OK, that could be anything like email…or Facebook pages.

You need to have a 3.5 GPA in order to interview.

GPA is not the most effective screening measure. Also, if transcripts are a necessity just to talk to you, I’m less likely to apply (3.5 GPA or not).

Getting college transcripts is a real pain in the butt.

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When you know you’re gonna get canned

There’s all this talk that it’s common courtesy to give your employer 2 weeks notice when quitting your job. Yet, who is that really benefiting? Common opinion states that you burn bridges when you quit without notice.

I think burning bridges is a tad overrated.

Think about it, what if your employer said, “Hey Jane, we’re planning on terminating your employment next Monday, so I just thought I’d let you know as a courtesy.”

You’d probably freak out at first. Then, perhaps, you’d come to terms with your (eventual) job loss and prepare for the inevitable changes. Maybe, you’d even quit before your job’s expiration date. Yet, that’s not how it usually works. 

Employers don’t do that – there’s no common courtesy when you’re getting canned. You’re pulled into a quiet office on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday afternoon (when all your coworkers have left for a “late lunch” around 2 pm) and told by your manager that you no longer have a job.

Oh, and you have about 10 minutes to gather all your crap and get out.

Where’s the “common courtesy” in that?

So, no – all this common courtesy BS needs to go out the window. Perhaps, you’ve already received verbal warnings, been written up and are on probation. Unless you enjoy the indignity of being escorted from your (former) place of work with a shoddily assembled Trader Joe’s bag of personal items – you might as well quit.

No notice necessary. 

Giving 2 weeks notice is a death sentence

Some employers have a nasty habit of firing employees on the spot once the (very kind and courteous) employee gives a manager their obligatory 2-week notice.

If you’ve seen this happen – these managers get what they deserve. You’re actually playing it smart when you don’t give notice in these cases. What’s the point of 2 weeks of unpaid unemployment just so you can puff out your chest and say “I was courteous.”

Give me a break. You’re better off spending that time starting your job search sooner (or, if you are lucky – your new job).

What about burning bridges?

Frankly, depending on how bad the exit is – you can actually still leverage relationships from the charred remains of a burnt bridge. If you managed to alienate an entire department – or just your boss, you probably can still connect with former co-workers. This is not naive – its business. I’m not advocating that you make quitting your job without notice a habit – but there are certain situations that warrant it. 

People quit jobs for all sorts of reasons. Today’s workplace is less likely to punish you for jumping ship because job hopping is paramount for professional success. So, if you are worried about your reputation, you most likely don’t have one to worry about. Your reputation – just like your relationships – will speak for themselves.

It’s easier to blame the person doing the unexpected quitting as unprofessional and not practicing good business etiquette.

Yet, no one ever seems to question what drives people to quit jobs unexpectedly (and without notice) in the first place.

It’s never brought up that the company’s workers rather chew glass than come to work or that turnover is ridiculously high or that the CEO has a personality of a barracuda.

Also, how likely are you to refer to a former employer you hated for a reference? The relationship speaks for itself. If you’ve been dutifully practicing career multiplicity, hopefully by now you have other connections in your network to rely upon. Thus, if you are thinking about using your former manager for a recommendation for your next job – be a little realistic and move on to other potential contacts.

Furthermore, most company HR policy prevents managers from bad mouthing former employees. Some don’t even allow managers to provide recommendations or references. When looking for a new job, HR managers give title and dates worked.

And, with only your permission – salary earned.

Your staffing recruiter may ask questions like if you gave 2 weeks notice, what happened at your last job yadda yadda yadda – but if you’re smart, you can handles these questions with flair. You can say you left to pursue other opportunities.

Theoretically, you did. It’s not lying.

Other posts you may enjoy:

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Photo Credit: Miserteacher @Flickr

Photo Credit: Miserteacher @Flickr

There are lots and lots of lists profiling bloggers that would be cool to read or the best of 2009 or are considered the most underrated

Those lists utterly annoy me because time and time again, it’s like rating the best foods or the places to raise kids.

They can be totally irrelevant…to the reader, that is.  Not to mention, taken out of context.

And – stop – I know that they’re only suggestions. Or, voter’s choices. Or…whatever. I think in the blogosphere, it may not always be a good idea to have such rankings – because rankings are just opinions.

And, I think the blogosphere is too big  to separate – and rank – out a few from the million.

I much rather have someone tell me why they like something, why it would be relevant to me and – that’s it. None of this best, top, worst of the year crap.

Furthermore, these compilations lack purpose. And some bloggers forget to clarify whatever that purpose is in their lists. How is that?  For example, they tell me what the blog is about and why they read it. As a reader, I could care less about that – how do you think it will benefit me?

It sounds contradictory.

In fact, it is.

Yet, that’s the point. And, perhaps the blogs I list below have made lists elsewhere and I’m not saying anything differently about them. I’d like you to keep in mind that this list is made for people who want to gather bits of information from everywhere for everything.

I hope I add something a little bit new to that gathering.

I know I sound like a total hypocrite because I am writing a blog post on blogs that I read. Yet, I’m thinking if you follow my blog – you have the same kinds of interests (and peeves) that I do. You may like children’s literature, but you’re not only (and always) going to read stuff by Kate DiCamillo.

I like to peruse stuff that appeals to certain moods I’m in. And just like you, when I want to gain a certain perspective on the world or inflate a certain mood – I can’t just got to one place, I go to several:

My Human Rights Muses/NPO work/Social Change

Nicholas Kristoff/On the Ground

I think a lot of people are seriously out of tune with what goes on outside of the United States – well, in the world, period. And NO, you can’t get all your news from the Daily Show – even though I’ll be the first to try. Generally, there is a very weak grasp of the political machinations in our own country, therefore, understanding stuff beyond that can be overwhelming. We’re also at a disadvantage because we are distanced (or better yet, create the distance).

Nick writes about those various (dis)connections and bridges the gaps, specifically on human rights issues.

Allison Jones/Entry Level Living

I have not come across too many (good) blogs that detail the work of twenty somethings in the NPO world. Nor, I haven’t run across as many that are as insightfully opinionted and as well-informed as Ms. Jones. If you are a twenty something looking to understand social change (as a profession), please visit her blog.

It’s well worth the time.

Karyn/The Fabulous Giver

What can’t be more great than finding chic ways to do charity?  Karyn’s writing is sweetly engaging. The site fosters a lot of opportunities to learn new things about wonderful philanthropic social events and causes. If you are interested in seeing how advocacy turns into action, The Fab Giver should be one of your places to start.

Beth Kanter/Beth’s Blog

This is kind of the “grown up” version of a blog about NPO work and social media usage. Ms. Kanter is pretty straightforward and her advice is practical. I may not always know what she’s talking about – but her blog is like the individual contrast (perspective?) to K Street Cafe.

Career: Good, Bad & Funny

Marci Alboher/Hey Marci

I had just begun following Ms. Alboher’s blog, Shifting Careers, before she got booted from the NYT. Her blog focuses on the multiplicity of careers and jobs. You’ll enjoy it too if like to read about workplace trends and the redefinition of career life.

And, she’s a nice contrast from Ms. Trunk – I can only handle one career blog that details the sex life of the author.

FFN/Fired for Now

This is a fairly new blog. I hope it sticks around. FFN writes about the realities of getting canned from a rigidly honest and insightful view point. The definition of unemployment is changing and this blog seeks to challenge the assumptions of its “social meaning.”

In other words, this blog doesn’t make me feel so bad about getting fired – ever. I suggest this become a must-read for all people still griping about being canned, worried about getting a job or otherwise happy with their career (read: EVERYONE).

Lillit & Ashley/Save the Assistants

This blog appreciates admins from across the world. The Bossary should be the first stop for anyone visiting. Administrative work can be tough – and mind crushing (if you let it). This site can be your saving grace. If you feel you are wasting away your soul in a crappy administrative job, read this blog and become inspired.

Go ahead and be saved (no worshipping of another g-d required).

John Henion & Tania Khadder/Unemploymentality

Weird. Slightly offensive. Scathingly sarcastic. Those are the first three descriptions that come to mind about this site. And, it’s hilarious. It’s an extremely fun read – and the best thing?

You can actually laugh in the face  of joblessness (er…maybe).

Jodith Allen/Administrative Arts

Kind of cheating on this one because I already mention a blog that profiles admin work. Yet, I think this is a good blog to read for anyone no matter what stage of their career they’re in. Admin work is part of any job you do –  from being  the president of a company to the mail clerk. Paperwork is paperwork  – don’t fight it.

Ms. Allen’s blog talks about time management, technology and various facets of (admin) career development. You can try that or the Crabby Office Lady (bonus!).

Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down – Inspiration Blogs!

Alexander Kjerulf/The Chief Happiness Officer

Being happy is important (especially at work) – ’nuff said.

Stephanie/Stephmodo

Besides having the same name as my little sister  – this blogger and I have another thing in common: an appreciation for all things beautiful and appetizingly sensual. Stephanie’s blog is absolutely gorgeous.

And, it’s not nearly as terrifying as GOOP.

Erinn/The Happy Living Design Blog

I’m a big fan of having peaceful spaces. I admit, I just go here to check out whatever photos might be up, but the writing is very interesting, as well. Go here to get ideas on (inexpensive) interior design for all types of abode living.

Not to mention, her blog’s layout has a “soothing” quality.

Cheryl Porro/ The Cupcake Blog

Ok, this blog has been “closed.”  But you can still view recipes, photos, etc. Furthermore, anything featuring a cupcake is bound to make you feel better.

No matter what.

Ev-Yan/Apricot Tea

Besides being ridiculously cute, Ev-Yan is a sensibly chic fashionista. If you like reading about fashion, Ev-Yan can be your muse. She also writes about married life, vegetarian and vegan eating habits and ripped shorts.

She posts photos quite a bit of the various outfits she wears, she pulls off the androgynous look quite well – better than most.

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