It’s been interesting thinking back over the experience I shared with you all yesterday. And I wanted to share the second incident I had with the same women, Sarah and Tina. This one tops the first one of you ask me. But, I’ll let you be the judge. As you are probably very aware, there is a chain of command in corporate America, as with many other jobs. There is protocol, right? A sales employee does not just go walk up to and knock on the door of the CEO expecting to have a conversation. So, as an employee, the time I request off is not at my discretion. It must be officially requested and approved by the sales manager. In this case, once I got out of training, where Sarah was the trainer, I learned she was promoted to sales manager which means she would still be my supervisor and direct point of reporting. Yes, just my luck!
Well, I had a dentist appointment scheduled and so I put in my time off request about two weeks ahead of the appointment. The day before my appointment, I sent an email to Sarah and copied her assistant. Sarah did not reply but her assistant replied all and just told me to send a reminder email again tomorrow before actually leaving for the appointment. On the day of my appointment, about an hour before clocking out to leave, I sent another email to Sarah and her assistant (we will call her Diane) letting them know I was leaving soon.
The next day, I arrived to work to receive an email invitation for a meeting with Tina later that day. Go figure! During this meeting tina proceeded to tell me that Sarah had brought it to her attention that I had left the day before without saying anything, without getting permission, and without it being approved. Yes, you read that right. I asked tina if I could go to my desk for a moment and retrieve something that may help sort this situation out and she obliged. At my desk, I printed out the email thread between Sarah, Diane, and myself, starting from the initial time off request several weeks prior, as well as the emails from the previous three days. I brought them back to Tina’s office and showed them to her. The moon on Tina’s face was priceless – she knew Sarah had messed up. Tina excused me and a few minutes later I saw Sarah walking down the office aisle towards Tina’s office. I would’ve liked to be a fly on that wall and be privy to that conversation, but as my luck would have it, that didn’t happen.
Anyway, it was again, in that moment, that I knew Sarah had it out for me. I also knew that because Tina and Sarah had a close and personal relationship at work and outside of work, that although Tina was my boss also, she wasn’t an advocate for me, she’s never be, and she may as well have had it out for me too. Do you think there were any disciplinary actions for Sarah? Do you think her blatant lies on me were met with any recourse? Nope. But, I was constantly on high alert after that moment. It was like, Sarah had it out for me to get me fired or make me look uncooperative and unprofessional. It was sad.
Now, this is not specific to black people – but I do know that black people constantly have to live with micro aggressions and condescension from white people in corporate America. I would go as far as to say that black people in America are often underestimated, disrespected, stereotyped, overlooked for opportunities they’ve earned, and downright disregarded. It’s sad. It’s disgusting. It’s encouragement to push even harder to build my own business and escape the shackles of corporate America once and for all.
Being black in corporate America can be navigated with thick skin, a strong will, muting your senses to racism, disrespect, micro aggressions, passive aggressive behaviors, targeting, mockery, stereotypes, and more. It is often a tough hill to climb, yet again, it can be done. Speaking from personal experience, it takes thick skin and a bit tongue but if you want to progress in corporate America, just like with many facets of life, you’ll have to deal with some uncomfortable situations. How much you are willing to put up with is ultimately the determining factor.