The corporate workplace is not an equal playing field. Everyday, BIPOC employees
face various challenges, from microaggressions to being passed over for promotions
and other work opportunities that they’re qualified to receive. Despite this, BIPOC
employees have and continue to climb the corporate ladder by contributing value to
their organizations, as well as honing key skill sets such as the ability to network.
Though the focus is often placed on being able to network with white colleagues,
BIPOC employees who succeed often have the ability to get along with and help
colleagues who look like them. One way that they’re able to do this is by staying on
code, as no one is able to move ahead in a silo.
But what does it mean to stay on code? For BIPOC employees belonging to
underrepresented groups, it means aligning themselves within a group, through their
decisions and action, in order to better navigate the corporate workplace.
In our podcast, C-CRETS, the content that we create has helped our listeners learn
more about corporate America, secure higher paying jobs, and even foster a greater
sense of understanding among underrepresented employees and our allies. But the
podcast has also enabled us to stay on code as we share valuable career strategies
and insights with other African-American employees to help them better navigate the
world of work.
Here are three ways other BIPOC employees can also stay on code.
Become more than a bystander
Staying on code equates to not being a bystander and demonstrating interest in the
workplace development of other BIPOC employees. This remains critical to the
advancement of more employees belonging to underrepresented groups.
On the job training and mentorship plays a critical role in developing the skill set of any
employee. As leaders, we have benefited when those ahead of us have taken us under
their wing, and provided either mentorship or sponsorship. Oftentimes, the knowledge
that they shared would have taken us many more years to learn. Within our own
careers, we have also given back by mentoring employees coming down the pipeline.
What we’ve seen is that people rise to the occasion when they know that they’re being
supported; taking on challenging projects and tasks, and then succeeding at them.
Good leaders do not hoard knowledge. Being selfless and showing an interest in others
not only affects the corporate workplace right now, but for generations to come.
Not being a bystander requires you to act. It can be as simple as sharing some words of
encouragement with a colleague, or more extensive, such as by being a sponsor.
Speak up confidently
Many BIPOC employees tend to not speak up during meetings at work. However, it is
important that we do not mute our own voices and contribute our ideas. When diversity
of thought is willingly expressed at work, there is a greater benefit to the company. The
sharing of ideas creates more opportunities to solve a problem.
When BIPOC employees speak up, it’s a chance to show our peers the value we bring
to the table and opens the path for other employees belonging to underrepresented
groups to get comfortable vocalizing their thoughts and concerns.In addition, this paves
the way for better communication amongst coworkers.
It is only through dialogue that people are better able to understand and engage with
one another. Yes, you can contribute value solely through the completion of
assignments on the job. However, verbal communication is also a key way of sharing
Your coworkers also have different learning styles including those who are auditory
learners. So while there will be people who are fine with reading about a project idea,
there will also be those who appreciate a verbal breakdown of the same project idea.
Be willing to share your thoughts when in the room. It will make the job more meaningful
to you, gives you an opportunity to immediately contribute, and may encourage others
like you to speak up.
Be someone else’s guide
Being someone else’s guide is about giving back and paying it forward.
After about a year on the job, most employees have put some points on the board by
producing worthwhile work. As a BIPOC employee, while you continue to make strides
in your own career and move ahead, consider reaching back and pulling someone up
along with you. The ability to be of help to someone else is not only an important
leadership skill, it’s part of staying on code.
On our podcast, many thought leaders and industry professionals have sat to be
interviewed by us, sharing their wisdom with listeners. As hosts, one pattern that we’ve
noticed in their career trajectory is their willingness to give back to their communities.
Thought leaders are more respected and influential when they have helped others
achieve their goals, and companies are more profitable when their employees help each
When you stay on code by becoming more than a bystander, speaking up confidently,
and by being someone else’s guide, it creates more opportunities for other employees
from underrepresented groups to advance their careers in the workplace. Yes, staying on code does require intention, but it is also necessary if we want to disrupt the status
quo and create better workplace environments for BIPOC employees.