Several years ago, I won an award. I was so happy and proud that I was emotional upon hearing the news. I felt that I’d represented my industry, my colleagues, my company, and myself well enough to have even been considered.
My colleagues at my company were happy for me, and my manager asked that I assist in writing a press release about the news. We wrote it up and all was approved. I asked about it weeks later, and found out that a decision had been made not to send it out, because “someone ‘might poach me.'”
I was devastated. My feelings were hurt. No one fought for me in a conversation that I was not a part of. I had been so happy about receiving the award — but I realized the people close to me were not as happy or proud. I came to terms with the fact that they possibly didn’t care. Or maybe they didn’t think I represented the company as well as I thought I had.
I don’t know if this happened because I am a woman in a tech industry, or a black woman, but that is how this made me feel. It was a low point in my tenure there.
In the AV industry, I am often the ONLY in the room — only woman, only black person and/ or the only person with an MBA whose opinion no one cares to entertain. Slights can sometimes be very subtle, and you can’t quite put your finger on the discrimination. When you believe you are a victim of discrimination and you do say something, you become the aggressor and the aggressor deems their own self as the victim.
This week as I watched the results of the GA senate runoff, along with the display at the U.S. Capitol from my Washington, D.C., home just a few miles away, I found the words to say what I’ve been thinking.
As an industry, we must do better to recognize our blind spots regarding racism, sexism, ageism, sexual orientation, ableism and/or neurodiversity. Finding ways to create better, more inclusive cultures in all organizations’ spaces must be a priority.
Let’s nominate and recognize our peers for industry awards for the good works that they are doing, how they innovate, how they cheer us on, and how they lead in this industry. They may not always look like us or be in our immediate circles.
We don’t know what this new year will bring in terms of safety or business being better for all of us, but we can do much better about reaching out and having a more well-rounded circle to call on. My goal is to shine a spotlight on colleagues who are doing some amazing things in and outside of our industry. There are some creative people out there and I want to give them their flowers while they’re here.