What better month than March, Women’s Month, to talk about strengthening our sisterhood in the workplace. If you ask me, building and nurturing professional relationships with other women should be a goal, every woman strives toward.
Especially, black women.
As my sorority sister, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris said best, “ My advice to Black Girls everywhere: whenever you find yourself in a room where there aren’t a lot of people who look like you, -be it the classroom, or a board room, or courtroom -remember you have an entire community in that room with you, all of us cheering you on.”
All of us. She means it.
I couldn’t agree more.
The workplace can be challenging, especially for women of color. Sometimes it is the woman who looks just like you, who is making it hard for you. Despite this, we must join as sisters and uplift one another. During Women’s Month, I challenge you to remember, you are never alone. I challenge you, to be the reminder to others of our shared solidarity. Remember, there is always someone who shares your pain, knows your story, and has been exactly where you are today, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Here are 3 ways to build and nurture professional relationships with other women:
1- Acknowledge HER in the workplace:
Simply say hello. Greet your female colleagues (especially the brown ones). Go out of your way to introduce yourself. Exchange emails and let her know you are available, should she need anything or have questions. Offer to take her to lunch and take the first steps to building a professional relationship.
2- Request formal mentorship:
If you don’t ask, how will you ever know? If you see a woman in a position you want or woman who is crushing goals left and right, reach out to her and ask if she will mentor you. The worse she can say is no and after all, “No” never hurt anyone. If you are in a position to mentor someone- offer your time. We all thrive off of mentorship. Offer it and request it. Mentorship is mutually beneficial.
3- Use every opportunity to coach, rather than tear her down
When faced with a difficult situation begin conversations by assuming positive intent. What does this mean?
If you see another woman doing something she shouldn’t, pull her aside and talk to her. Don’t make assumptions. Try to emphasize and avoid belittling. It may not be appropriate in every situation but if you can use the opportunity as a teaching moment it will be more valuable in the end and strengthen the relationship. When appropriate, let her know you are committed to her success. Let her know you are looking out for her. This doesn’t mean avoid holding women accountable. This is a shift in your approach for the sake of the relationship.
Sistahs, some of us need to be invited to the table before we can actually have a seat at the table and the last thing we need is another sista stealing our fork. If you are in a position to invite another woman to the table- do it! There is always room for us all.
Imagine what will happen if we did this every month out of the year.