I was having a conversation recently with a business coaching client and one of the things she mentioned as a woman of colour, she really struggles to put her hand up for opportunities. Even when there’s a specific ask for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to apply.
As we dug deeper into the reason she felt this way, I saw so much of my past self. The areas we uncovered are areas that many women of colour struggle with. If you are a space-holder you’ll want to lean in as I share 4 barriers that get in the way of women of colour seizing opportunities. It will be so beneficial for you to learn so you are better equipped to hold space.
1️⃣ Little to no representation
When women of colour are not able to see themselves represented, it brings up issues of safety. Questions such as, “I’m I truly welcome here?” or “Can I truly be myself?” come up on repeat. There’s a feeling of being overly exposed and not for the right reasons. You are standing out in a way that feels uncomfortable and makes you feel vulnerable. No matter how friendly the environment might be, the issue of being the “only”, still lingers internally.
If English is not your first language there’s the issue of grammar to confront, in particular if you have to present something written. Often how we speak is not how we write. We might speak really well and be polished but when it comes to the written word and dealing with ins and outs of English grammar it can be daunting. This becomes an added layer by which our “less than” narrative is amplified based on the perception another white person will have when they read something we’ve written.
Again, very similar to the above point, when English is not your first language, it is likely you will have an accent that makes you pronounce words differently from how someone who English is their first and possibly their only language. As a mother myself with 2 children who speak fluent Australian English, they correct my pronunciation of words often. I respond with a smile and tell them I am multilingual and didn’t learn my English in Australia so that’s why I pronounce my words the way I do. It’s not wrong, it’s just different. And it is this very act of being different that makes women of colour feel less than and as though what they have to offer is not good enough.
The 3 barriers mentioned above feed into the type of mindset women of colour end up having. A mindset of not good enough, less than and constantly playing small because of what they believe about themselves. One cannot magically wave a wand and wish these beliefs and feelings away. It requires deep work to get to the root of the issue, rather than just dealing with matters on the surface which will continue to recur.
The more you understand the barriers that are getting in the way of women of colour putting their hand up for opportunities, the better equipped you are to have more fruitful conversations that lead to deeper support and ultimately empowerment.
If you are a woman of colour coach and struggle with some of the things I’ve mentioned and you feel they are getting in the way of you building your coaching business, I’d love to support you. For the month of July I’m offering 3 free 45 minute strategy calls to support you.
How I can support you:
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