She’s tired of speaking for 'all women of color'
Thursday, March 21, 2013
By Trudy Bourgeois
I am the only woman of color on my team. During
discussions I am sometimes asked to "speak for all women” or "all women of
color.” How can I address this without devaluing my insights and contributions
to the team?
happens more often for people of color because the dominant group — White men — sometimes unconsciously use
stereotypes. This is directly impacted by their upbringing, exposure to other
cultures and a low level of self-awareness for the benefits afforded to White
The most important thing
you can do is build strategic relationships to help people get to know you as
an individual and as a person. Then, when you are placed in situations where
the expectation is set for you to represent "all” people, I recommend you
gracefully remind the group that you are unique. Emphasize that just because
your skin color is the same as someone else’s does not put you in a position to
speak for them or represent their thoughts.
Diversity is about
the uniqueness of each individual. Remind them assumptions are dangerous. We
must avoid applying "the paintbrush” to any particular group. Not all women of color are the same. Not all White
men are the same.
Just make sure you
are a woman of excellence. Every time you speak, have something of value to
offer. Soon, they will get the message.
Trudy Bourgeois is happy to answer your career questions.
Please email them to NEW Communications Manager Barbara Grondin Francella.
Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of The Center for
Workforce Excellence and NEW Executive Leaders Forum conference designer.
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