It's time to take all the brakes off your greatness.
For women, ambition is double-edged. You need it to advance, but at the same time, you'd better hide it if you want to advance. Catch 22? Yup. For women of colour in particular, our ambition is rarely rewarded and often penalized. I know this firsthand.
In my prior corporate life, I was told by a White male boss to be more warm and collaborative after I had politely declined doing the office housework of planning the holiday lunch for the entire department.
Office housework is defined as everything from “taking notes or finding a time everyone can meet” to “work that’s important but undervalued, like initiating new processes or keeping track of contracts” and work that’s “usually not tied to revenue goals”. These efforts are far less likely to result in a promotion than, say, chairing the system implementation or digital transformation committee.
My White male colleagues at the same level (and even those below) were not asked to do this work. Research has shown that constantly being expected to complete these tasks will impair your ability to get promoted. However, saying no will get you penalized as well and labelled ambitious or aggressive. Or even angry.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change my stance. Ambition should not be a gendered characteristic of leadership. When you frame ambition with adjectives like confident, strategic and determined, a woman's leadership capabilities become more appreciated.
Take the breaks off your greatness.
You got this.
P.S. It’s been 153 days since Breonna Taylor was murdered in her sleep by Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove—and her killers have not been charged. Too often Black women who die from police violence are forgotten. Let’s stay loud, keep demanding justice for Breonna and her family, and SAY HER NAME.