Last Summer I was struck by a recurrent desire to write a book about the experiences of Black women in the UK workplace. Building on my experiences of being the “Trusted Black Girl” in many organisations and my interest in intersectionality I knew that there was a story to tell. So, for the past few months, I have been formulating my ideas, jotting down my experiences and talking to some good friends (both Black and non-Black friends) about what a book could look like.
Life, however, had slightly different plans for me, and while this book was meant to be my baby over the last few months, I found out in Autumn last year that I was actually going to have another real baby, so this book got pushed aside. During that time, I kept gathering stories both personal and from others to help me shape the structure of the book. Recently I also had an epiphany, as a “Trusted Black Girl” I was operating in the space of privilege. I was privileged to have had senior positions in many organisations and to have built a strong professional network where I was recognised for my talent and contributions to my work. I had lost touch with what it felt like to be a Black woman who was facing discrimination and marginalisation in the workplace on a daily basis. Confronted with stories of victimisation, casual racism and derogatory personal remarks I had to take a step back and acknowledge and appreciate my privilege while thinking about what I could do to help.
This book, therefore, will highlight the different personas that Back women in the UK workplace are labelled with and encourage Black women and leaders from all ethnicities to confront these stereotypes, take decisive action to move beyond them. I want us to consider what can and should be done to create more inclusive environments for Black women in the UK workplace, recognising the complex challenges of intersectional discrimination and cultural issues that may create dissonance between leaders and subordinates and personal values and organisational cultures.
Ultimately this book explores seven personas with the ultimate goal to be and be seen to be a successful Black woman.
The current structure of the book is:
- The Black Girl Barometer – a short quiz to help you identify the type of Black girl you may be perceived to be. These are not absolutes and they deliberately lean into stereotypes to illustrate the unfairness of pigeon-holing
- The Trusted Black Girl – Someone who is often told that people “forget” that they are Black
- The Not-Black Girl – Someone who is devoid of obvious cultural markers that denote any culture apart from “Britishness”
- The Exotic Black Girl – a woman who appears culturally ambiguous, due to hair or skin tone usually
- The Too Black Girl – someone who wears “traditional” or “ethnic” clothing and usually has a natural hairstyle that colleagues will comment on repeatedly
- The Angry Black Girl – the stereotypical aggressive Black woman
- The Tired Black Girl – a brow-beaten woman who no longer fights against the “system”
- The Successful Woman – what we all want to be. A person who is defined by our achievements and valued for our contributions irrespective of our ethnicity
- The Black Girl Essays – focusing on essays, blog pieces and articles about being a Black woman
If you are interested in contributing quotes or essays whether from a manager’s point of view or as a Black woman I would love to hear from you. Your contributions can be confidential if preferred. For a quick chat or to share email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Roianne Nedd is a Coach, Diversity and Inclusion expert and Author. She has dedicated her professional career to improving inclusion in both private sector and public-sector organisations with a particular emphasis on intersectional feminism, unconscious bias, and leadership.
Roianne’s mission in life is to amplify the voices of others to help them find their purpose, unleash their passion and maximise their potential. Both her coaching practice and her D&I Consultancy place people at the heart of her products and services. She is also the proud author of seven books including two self-help books as part of The Cracked Cocoon series.