The idea of having a “seat at the table” implies a privilege rewarded to for maximum effort, or maybe it was inherited. I recently had an encounter that shaped that ideology.
So two things..
First I attended “Conversation in Perspective”. This is an open invite event where people come in, have a seat and discuss the topics of the night. It’s a nice environment nestled in a cozy space, a little wine, and transparent non judging thoughts. So the main question was, “Can diversity exists in corporate America with code switching”.
The sub question is, what’s code switching?
Apparently it’s when minorities -all none Caucasians, alter who they are, I.e. The way they speak, dress, wear their hair, or behave in order to adapt into the corporate America setting. There was an overwhelming response of “No” for various reasons.
Personally, I didn’t realize code switching was a quote, unquote issue. For as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to be a business woman of sorts. I knew I liked creative outlets and marketing. I also recognized that when you see successful people in professional capacities they were never improper. That means there was minimal ethnic jargon, influencing confidence, and quick witted intelligence. Success did not happen haphazardly, nor did it look like the colloquial “crew” on the block. So I set my goals accordingly. Hold…
Second, this week I attended an industry conference solo. This is major because last year I co-attended with my boss. But this year.. it was my show. What was super awesome was that everyone was trying to get my attention to pitch their business. That attention was only granted by correctly speaking one (of many) key magic words specifically ie my name.. DeNeidra. I learned when people really want something they will pronounce your name correctly!! Ha-ha!!
Anywho, in the midst of day 2 I turned to my account manager. I asked if she noticed I was almost the only black person <- notjust woman, but person in the room. She noticed and said she imagined a count of about ten. In my head I’m thinking no “B”… 4…. I counted, lol. The conversation moved to diversity and women in the work place. We exchanged experiences on how as women we have to work harder, faster.. and flawlessly. Just for some additional context, in addition to the plight of the scarce black woman, was the fact that 85% of the attendees were men.
This brought me back to the idea of code switching, and posturing. Is success synonymous with code switching. Is switching the fare for your seat at the table??
I’ve decided that it is, it’s your fare for your seat at the table. The next question then becomes, how bad do you want to be at the table? Regardless of your dream, industry, or hobby there’s always a fare to pay to play. Even as an entrepreneur you’ll find that you yourself will have requirements for those who sit at your table.
Just my thoughts…shrugs…