Corporate America has convinced some of us that we have to compromise who we are, and that somehow, we’ll eventually reap the benefits. Unfortunately, this has never worked and it's about time we start implementing some ideals that will get us to the top, without having to diminish ourselves along the way. Check out my list of 7 ways to be unapologetically black while being the boss in the corporate sector. 

1. Be Creative.Photo: Giphy

One of the quickest ways to win in the boardroom is to constantly stay at the climax of innovation. It’s important that you contribute meaningful and creative insight in the corporate sector, and this even means coming up with creative and more efficient ways to do your job. Remember, the money is in the creativity and the more creative marks you make, the more valuable you are in the corporate world. Don’t just influence your work place, be a creative stakeholder.

2. Don’t Start Out Explaining (or apologizing).Photo: Giphy

Listen, for many black professionals in corporate America, it’s easy to feel the urge to “bring up”, explain away or even give an unsolicited apology for your blackness. Don’t do it. No one else is apologizing for who they are, and neither should you. You were hired because you’re qualified, knowledgeable and already have the professional tact to carry out what needs to be done. You can unapologetically be the boss while being black.

3. Fact Check.Photo: TV One

Always have your facts straight. Having the correct information about anything, as it relates to your position or the workplace environment, is crucial and should be applicable to anyone in a corporate setting. No one is exempt from this and it’s necessary for continually driving a space for accurate and effective workflow. Additionally, having your facts right can protect you and your integrity in the long run. There’s nothing like punching a hole in your stance when you’ve been discredited in a subject. Document necessary information and check its accuracy.

4. Be Excellent.Photo: Giphy

Simply be your greatest. There’s really nothing more to it. When you carry out your ideas and your responsibilities with the highest form of integrity, precision and prestige, you’ll be noticed, you’ll be valuable and you won’t have to stop being you to get to the top. 

5. Toot Your Horn. Photo: Giphy

This is a big one! A lot of people think you shouldn’t do this, but I wholeheartedly disagree. You should not have to fall by the wayside to make everyone else feel comfortable with your greatness. This is by no means suggesting you should be tacky and scream from the rooftops every time you simply do your job. Afterall, you are being paid to do just that. However, if it’s yours and it’s meaningful, find a way to (tastefully) take your credit. This is about rightfully taking ownership of your work. When you do this, you’ll find you look forward to coming to work everyday because you feel more connected to the amazing things you accomplish. It’s actually crucial for workplace mental survival. For example, if it’s a big report and it makes sense to put your name on it, do so. And if you made something amazing happen, follow up with whoever’s doling out the credit. For example: “John, would love to know your thoughts on the results of this month’s sales. I really think the idea I had to strategize our price points drove this home and the team did a great job executing it.”

6. Inform & Correct.Photo: Giphy

There may be times where you’ll have to check some folks and guess what, you’re allowed to professionally and respectfully do just that. You should never feel as though you have to endure abuse or inappropriate instances because of fear of losing your position or respect in the corporate field. Take the space to respectfully inform and correct anyone (including your boss) about insensitive, inappropriate or derogatory actions and dialogue. You’re valuable enough to require a peaceful office life.

7. Expect What You Deserve.Photo: Giphy

Sometimes we convince ourselves that we should not expect or ask for the things we know we’ve worked hard to get. If you’re due a raise or deserve a perk and the higher ups haven’t gotten the ball rolling on that, then you should advocate for the reward of your value. It’s perfectly OK to expect what belongs to you. Besides, are you really winning if you aren’t reaping the benefits of your labor?

I hope this list is insightful and would love for your input on other ways to win in corporate America, while being black! Share your thoughts in the comments below!