I'm Speaking: Four Ways to Make Sure Your Voice Is Heard At Work
When Senator Kamala Harris told Vice President Mike Pence “I’m speaking” as he attempted to speak over her during the vice presidential candidate debate, she spoke on behalf of all Black women who refuse to be muted or overlooked by those who refuse to recognize our very existence, power and authority as Black women in America.
I work for a fortune 500 information technology company and I know all too well what it feels like to be the only Black woman in the rooms and capacities in the corporate workforce. On my direct team of about 15 people, I am the only Black woman. On my leadership team across the US and several other countries, I am the only Black woman.
Despite being the only Black woman in these capacities, I refuse to be muted or disregarded when I have an idea or suggestion. Just like the white men and women who serve in similar capacities and even in higher-level roles, my voice matters, my presence is valuable, and my ideas can provide solutions to important issues.
As a Black woman in a white and male dominated industry, I know how it feels to feel overlooked, inferior, unnoticed, and like my ideas don’t matter because I don’t look like everyone else in the room. As a result, I’ve made it my mission to speak up when I have an idea or suggestion about an issue or topic at hand.
It is so important as a Black woman or man to make sure your voice is heard, your ideas are considered and your contributions are accounted for in every room you step in. Here are four important things to remember to make sure your voice is heard.
Be courageous. Never be afraid to speak up, contribute to a conversation, or express your concerns about something. Often times, when you speak up, it inspires other people to share their ideas as well. In addition, you actually may be addressing or providing a solution to an issue that impacts a lot people that you may have not been aware of. You never know how far your idea can take you if you have the courage to speak up about it.
Be confident. Understand that there’s a reason why you are in the room or at the meeting. It’s because you have something valuable to offer. Be confident when you speak and remember that your voice is matters and your ideas are valuable. Be so confident that you command the room and make people want to listen to what you have to say.
Be intentional. Speak with a purpose. Consider how your idea or suggestion will solve a problem or make something better. When you voice your concern or share an idea, make sure that it is aligned with the purpose of the meeting and/or the people you are speaking to.
Be conscious. Make sure that you are well-versed on what you are presenting or speaking about. When you are presenting an idea or solution, make sure you back it up with facts, whether those are statistics, personal experiences, or feedback from relevant stakeholders. Do your research and be prepared to clarify your points and answer any questions.