women of color

Webinar Recap: Career Advice for Women of Color, Things You Wished Someone Had Told You

Panelists: Lissiah Hundley, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Client Fulfillment at DiversityInc; Joiava Philpott, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Cox Communications; Circe Stark, Compliance Director at Southern Company

Panelists on the webinar discussed what they wish they had known earlier in their successful but challenging careers in the corporate world.

Though nearly 90% of women of color desire to be influential leaders and women of color comprise about 18% of the total U.S. population, only 4% of women of color hold C-level positions in the corporate world. That is compared with almost 70% of white men and 19% of white women.

“We are often held to a much higher standard than white and male peers,” Philpott said. “We are often presumed to be less qualified despite our credentials, our work product and our business results. Women of color are less likely to have bosses who promote them, who help navigate through organizational politics and who help them to socialize outside of work. We often find ourselves lacking meaningful mentoring and sponsorship that is critical to getting ahead.”

Key Takeaways from Joiava Philpott

  • Choose your job wisely
  • Cultivating key relationships is a powerful tool
  • Keep your wits about you
  • Put your health first
  • Study the leadership around you
  • The three C’s: consortium of power, code switching, concrete ceiling
  • Take risks!
  • Speak up and show up
  • Operate in the area of excellence
  • Be open to change
  • Stay in the climb

The first thing that Philpott said she wished someone had told her was: “choose wisely.” By that, she means choose a position based on thought and how that position will help you achieve your goals. Philpott also said she wished someone had told her it’s also about choosing a boss to go along with the position and that cultivating key relationships is a powerful tool.

Staying physically, mentally and emotionally healthy was also a major point of discussion and importance for Philpott.

Related Article: Wells Fargo Advisors’ Heather Hunt-Ruddy Shares How She’s Successful in a Male-Dominated Industry

“There was a study that reports that almost 60% of women of color who feel constantly on guard are more likely to have sleep problems,” Philpott said. “We know from reading all of the medical trades that a lack of sleep can affect our overall health. It can make us prone to really serious medical conditions like obesity, and heart disease, and high blood pressure and diabetes. My advice is to get the sleep you need, exercise, do whatever physical recreational activities you need to offer yourselves the best possible output.”

Key Takeaways from Circe Stark

  • Excellence is never an accident
  • Define your values
  • Be clear about your history and the legacy you want to leave
  • Have a life plan
  • Success is not about the destination, it’s about the process
  • Know your worth
  • Cultivate your network
  • Give your best

Stark joined the webinar to discuss the top things she wished someone had told her earlier in her career.

“We have to be very intentional about developing our brand and our leadership style,” she said. “While developing your brand, that goes to how other people are experiencing you and how you might be showing up in the workplace. We have to be deliberate about developing that leadership style.”

A career map is part of a life plan. It is important to have both, according to Stark.

“The career map shows you where you want to go as a professional, but it’s really important that as you’re developing that career map that is integrated with your life, that you have that work-life balance,” Stark said.

A career map and a life plan also are crucial to understanding, knowing and owning your worth, she said, as well as understanding that market value is different from worth.

“Although your market value can change, it’s transient, your worth is intrinsic,” Stark said. “It is who you are. And although you may be in a job currently where you feel as if you’re not being appropriately valued, just because someone fails to value you in the way that you think they should it does not change your intrinsic worth.”

To hear the full conversation with even more takeaways, listen here. For more on allies, career advancement and advice, visit DiversityInc.com and DiversityIncBestPractices.com and check out more webinars like this.

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