It’s Your Time

Whether your skin color is red, brown, white, or yellow, it’s your time to stake your claim in American corporations.

Whether you are a woman who was raised with a silver spoon placed lovingly between her lips, or you’re returning to work after having a baby or taking care of an aging parent, it’s your time. Or perhaps you are a first-generation corporate woman with no one in your family or social circle to help you navigate the tricky corporate waters you’re now swimming in. It’s your time. Whether your skin color is red, brown, white, yellow, or a combination of any of these, it’s your time—your time to stake your claim in American corporations.

It’s your time because the corporate landscape is changing. The United States Census Bureau recently reported that by 2042, minority groups will constitute the majority of America’s population. A large percentage of these folks will be women. Thus far, there has been a small opening of the door to managerial and executive jobs that has enabled a trickle of multicultural women to enter these positions, but that door is about to be blasted open.

As a result, there are going to be opportunities in the managerial and executive ranks that have not been readily available to women of color in the past. So, given these new opportunities, how do you take advantage of the growing wedge in the door?

Get clear on the career path you want to follow. Do you want to be in management where you can still carve out some time for a personal life, or do you want to be in the executive suite and live a corporate lifestyle? Follow your passion!

Be proactive in building and developing your leadership abilities and skill set. Go back to school, take a course, attend a workshop at work, or participate in a leadership development program.

Get out of your comfort zone at work. Volunteer for an assignment where you can learn new skills, showcase your talents, create new allies, and enhance the “buzz” about you in the company.

Find a mentor or hire a coach, and be on the lookout for role models who don’t necessarily look like you. Again, transcend your comfort zone. Reach out to people who are different from you, not just by their outward appearance but also by what they do and who they know in your company.

Above all, don’t wait. The time is now. DW

Ella L.J. Edmondson Bell, PhD, is an associate professor of business administration at the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. She is considered to be one of the leading experts in organizational change, and the management of race, gender, and class in organizational life.

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