Megan Thee Stallion’s new song “Cobra” is one of the most vulnerable pieces of hip-hop I’ve heard in a long time. After all she’s endured — losing both parents and her grandmother before the age of 25 and the public shaming she was subjected to after being assaulted by Tory Lanez — it was both refreshing and learning more about her inner world through her music.
Breakin' down, and I had the whole world watchin'
But the worst part is really who watched me
Every night, I cried, I almost died
And nobody close tried to stop it
Long as everybody gettin' paid, right?
Everything'll be okay, right?
Meg’s story, no matter how heartbreaking, is not uncommon for many Black and Brown women. And for Black and Brown women leaders who sit at the helm of an organization, lead a team, or are driving a company’s DEI initiatives, like Meg, their pain is seldom recognized.
As we prepare to head into the holiday season and end-of-year wrap-up, now is the time that many DEI leaders may be feeling burned out after a year of fighting for change while also being on the receiving end of inequitable practices. Colleagues and other leaders bear witness to the challenges Black and Brown women in DEI face, are close enough to the issue, and yet do little to stop it.
There are numerous steps that companies and organizations can take to shift this dynamic and ensure that Black and Brown women are supported, including:
Making Time for Rest
There is often an unspoken standard in the world of mission-driven work that demands long hours and a near-constant level of output. But through tactics like company-wide restorative breaks or mental health days, companies can set a standard across all levels that rest is a priority.
Beyond company-wide initiatives, Black and Brown women leaders in DEI can also be supported by having the flexibility to take time off without the worry of it adversely impacting their team. This requires the proper setup on an organizational level with a depth of bench in staffing that allows for DEI leaders to step away and allow the work to continue in their absence. Properly resourcing and staffing DEI teams is a necessary step in ensuring that rest, being the valued form of resistance it is, can be accessible across all levels of experience.
Mentorship & Community Building
Healing, repair, and transformation do not happen in isolation. Ensuring that DEI leaders have access to a strong professional support network can help them to navigate the challenges that inevitably come up in this field. Being able to open up to and bounce ideas off of other professionals in the space can build the community that many Black and Brown women need to thrive.
This can take on the form of resource groups or sponsorship for professional development opportunities that other Black and Brown women would be visible at. Having a supportive supervisor is paramount, but it’s equally important for leaders to be surrounded by people who make space for them both professionally and personally.
Megan Thee Stallion’s story teaches us that no matter their level of success, Black and Brown women are not exempt from the pressures of their careers that can impact both their mental and physical health. Bearing witness to that pain instead of turning away from it can go a long way in shifting their experiences from one of isolation and depression to community and empowerment. Schedule a consultation with ShiftED Consulting today to begin your respective journey.