As I look around this multicultural world, I am conscious that the colour of our skin influences how we are viewed in the workplace.

My black sisters tell me about how they are expected to make others in the group feel comfortable, especially when their colleagues look nothing like them. If they speak up, they’re viewed as loud and angry. To offset this perception, they deliberately speak softly and quietly, swallowing the anger and dissatisfaction, making sure to appear calm and unruffled. Examples of this are everywhere, check out what Serena Williams has been dealing with.

My Asian sisters tell me that they’re viewed as lacking in presentation skills for NOT speaking up and being heard. They’re told they need leadership training for not addressing the issues powerfully; and are sent to remedial training. Or conversely, when they DO speak up, the reaction is often one of surprise, as it’s assumed that Asians are hardworking and quiet… just happy to be the ‘worker bees.’ I’ve talked about my own experiences with this in my previous post on stereotypes.

Even my white sisters tell me they’ve been told to smile more in the office, so they don’t come across as being as too aggressive. They often feel they should wait until their male counterparts have spoken before they weigh in. If they’re as outspoken as some of their male colleagues, they may be perceived as having a ‘woman’s health problem’, i.e. PMS… or simply being a b****!

These are just a few examples of how women often feel they can’t be their authentic selves in the office at the risk of making others feel uncomfortable or hurting their chances of getting ahead. They have to either tone down or ramp up aspects of themselves in order to fit into the work culture.


Do you feel you are not being your true self in the workplace, because you might come across as being ‘unprofessional’? Would you like to be supported in ways that are specific to being a woman of colour? Does your workplace lack the sponsorship to help you deal with these challenges and get ahead — someone in your corner who can advocate on your behalf when it comes to projects and promotions?

If you feel you are being overlooked at work, in spite of your contributions to the project and team, it is worth looking at how you are presenting yourself, and how that presentation is being received by others. I welcome the opportunity to work with you, either in one of my workshops, or through individual coaching, on your communication style, to make sure that you’re being effective in how you project your message.

As your coach, I can help you overcome these barriers. I can provide you with the support you need, so that even if you’re alone on your team, you won’t feel alone. I can help you advocate for yourself for that promotion or change to that new role you desire in your office.

My job is helping my clients bring their full selves to the workplace, be respected for this, and draw on their strengths to get ahead. I welcome the opportunity to work with you individually, or as part of the unconscious-bias workshops we conduct.

Our initial 30-minute phone consultation is free

What are you waiting for?...Connect with Shieh-Chi Chen now!





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