• Jacquelyn Carter

How to Thrive As the "Only" at Work


Have you ever dealt with, or should we say, how frequently do you deal with microaggressions at work? Microaggressions, discomfort, isolation, and at times, blatant disrespect is all too familiar with Black people at work.


"Black people account for about 12% of the U.S. population, but occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions," according to CBS News.


We recognize that you should NOT have to experience these problems at work and encourage anyone experiencing these problems to contact HR or a manager. However, here are some tips to help you thrive in your workplace!


Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Kimberly Wilson, a Vice President of Affiliate marketing at Disney and ESPN Media Networks shares her recipe for thriving at work, “I was given a formula from an amazing executive program I attended years ago and I live by it every day. Performance + Relationships = Advancement. It’s not enough to survive your environment.” So how does one do more than survive and actually thrive? “Being a student of the business you’re in, expanding your knowledge beyond your current role, and fostering relationships with potential advocates, influencers, and people you can model after,” says the marketing expert. “Building your brand based on a body of work while learning how to tell your story are critical. I share with those I mentor, be comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s when real growth takes place.”


Get out of survival mode and into a high-performance model - A new challenge might be the self-care you need and the best method to keep thriving. You can get out of survival mode by checking back in and upping your commitment and contributions to growing your career. Take an employee learning class, request permission to attend a workshop out of the office, leverage any intuition benefits you might have. Find learning experiences that reflect your particular needs. The Memo offers career boot camps specifically for Black women, Levo offers learning events for all women, for instance. Attend a conference. Grow your skills and bring back your learnings to your team.


Yes, move on. Be willing to let some things roll off your back. Picking your battles applies to work too. Chelsea Hayes, SPHR, CEO and principal consultant of The Coaching Factory suggests this, “Don’t waste too much energy dwelling on the fact that you are an “only.” Your brain has a finite capacity each day and if you choose to spend your energy on every real or perceived slight, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Recognize it as a fact, allow that fact to power your decisions and move forward.” Decide what you can move on from and what you need to call HR about. Build your own internal capacity to avoid letting those comments ruin your day.


Read more of our full article on HuffPost