“Listen with intent”: Three ways white women can support women of colour in the workplace

Hema Kangeson

Career coach, mentor and inSpur founder Hema Kangeson. Source: supplied.

Listen with intent to the intersectional experiences of women of colour (WOC) and believe them.

Many WOC have been in environments — especially in Western nations — where their story, journey or unique intersectional experiences have not been given a platform to be heard, or if provided, it’s overly scrutinised and torn to shreds! Due to this, some WOC do not value their experiences and worth.

Unfortunately, many WOC feel it is best to only share the stories which are aligned to those of White women and not to share their unique intersectional experiences.

I highly encourage White women to create and provide a safe space for WOC to feel heard and be able to share experiences through their lens, as you will then create an environment where there are richer stories and experiences.

Provide or create professional and economic opportunities for WOC.

As we move towards true gender equality within the boards and C-Suites in Australia, White women are now in a place of privilege, and can now provide and create opportunities for WOC. Leading the way doesn’t happen with words, but with actions.

Recognise the great work done by WOC in your team or organisation at large. Recognise that they may have a different style of leadership or communication than you. Recommend them for speaking engagements, a promotion or an opportunity that previously they would not have had access to.

And please, don’t pigeon-hole them only in certain roles (like only leading Diversity & Inclusion).

WOC in women’s initiatives.

If we want to co-create a deliberately successful future for all women, it is vital to collaborate with WOC in different initiatives. This will ensure no one is left behind and we not only address what is important for White women but ensure the ideas, needs and wants of WOC are also met. In every initiative, ask: “And how does this support women of colour?”

Starting with panel discussions, in your office or elsewhere. Are there WOC voices? If not, include their voices in the discussion, even if it means giving your seat.

This article is part of SmartCompany‘s special IWD 2020 edition. It was commissioned and guest-edited by Culture Amp’s Aubrey Blanche.

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