A unicorn is magical. Resilient. Unique. Incomparable.
Black women are unicorns. While they still face many inequities when it comes to pay equity and advancement, this is not another column that highlights the historical and contemporary workplace challenges for professional black women. This piece is intended to empower and acknowledge the value of black women — and why they are an asset to the workplace.
When it’s time to lead, black women get the job done
Companies and organizations need leaders who can rally the troops, transform dysfunctional work cultures, and achieve quantifiable outcomes and results. History shows that black women are accomplished at this. For example, the recent senate race in Alabama demonstrated that black women’s activism and cultivation of grass-root efforts increased voter turnout. Their commitment and self-sacrificing nature even inspired the tagline “Vote Like a Black Woman in 2020.” We need more women leaders who can unapologetically walk in their power — and not be called out for doing so.
We navigate the duality of race and gender
Black women must navigate workplace challenges in which they encounter both racial and gender discrimination. Black women must modify their language and behavior to adapt to predominately white cultural environments — they must be both multilingual and multicultural. Companies need employees who can trasverse through several different cultural contexts, and bridge the gap between the organization and external communities.
We promote authenticity
Authenticity and creativity are critical to a culturally pluralistic society. Black women are versatile. We can sport a range of hairstyles, from Bantu knots to luxurious locs. We can show our cultural heritage through dress and linguistics. While many black women are still unable to be their authentic selves in their workspaces, companies need employees who can define their own vision, avoid group think, develop innovative solutions and form genuine relationships at all levels.
There are many other reasons why black women are an asset to the workplace. Black women have unequivocally put their collective stamp on America; we just need our employers to realize it. We need an America that values the work and collective magic of black women. We need an America that aims to not only hire, but promote, care for and protect black women. Until then, we will keep being magical.