Posts Tagged :

corporate america

1024 681 Ellen Branch

Why we millennials are breaking through the corporate mold that has been levied against us

This article is a brief introduction into the mind of America’s new workforce: millennials and beyond. In three key areas we see how our views contradict those of generations before; employment opportunities, organizational hierarchy, and compensation.

 

The millennial mindset: work (n.)(v.)

 

Seeking a career not a job: Millennials as a commodity

With overall unemployment at 5.3% (2015), many would argue that there are jobs out there for millennials. But, in actuality these are jobs we feel we have done too much schooling and career preparation to want to settle for. This generational feeling of over qualification is upheld by statistics that say 34% of millennials have at least a bachelor degree (2014). It is evident that we do not see ourselves settling in the current construct of work in America if that means working jobs our baby boom counterparts were doing straight out of high school and earning 77 % as much as someone with a college degree. “I think our mindset is a direct reflection of seeing our parents and grandparents work their fingers to the bone, for a company that outsourced labor,” says Julian. Simply put, companies need to value what all millennials bring to the table. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we have more critical thinking skills and have been exposed to what is beyond the typical nine to five workday. When companies begin to see us as the game-changing commodity, we in turn will commit our time and energy to the greater good.

 

Seeking a community not a hierarchy: Millennials as equals

As a working class citizen of the United States, I understand the need and despise the categories we place ourselves in for the sake of order. In the workplace this pressure to follow the chain of command is especially felt from older generations. Many of which feel we do not respect the way things are prior to our adulthood and entry into the workplace. Mainly due to the fact that we do not feel the right person on said chain is hearing our ideas and/or complaints. Just like “Telephone”; the game we played in school to see just how misconstrued a phrase can get when unnecessary ears/parties are involved. This is at the core of our group values; we understand how the hierarchy keeps those who work, working and those who manage, managing and those who decide, deciding. When asked about hierarchy, Eleanor, age 28, states, “We do not care for hierarchy or the corporate ladder, our values are just different.” I believe we, as millennials are the first of our kind to acknowledge our distaste for the hierarchy and have valid ideas that are worth sharing. Our values thrive on the concept of circumventing the ladder and ensuring everyone in the working community feels valuable.

 

Seeking satisfaction beyond a paycheck: Millennial benefits

With Millennials waiting longer to get married and/or have kids the idea of employee benefits becomes less about health insurance and 401k’s and more about workplace culture and non-cash benefits. “For me, it’s less about money and more about the business culture as a whole,” says Addy. Surely we are aware of the importance of retirement but we want to see our companies work for us as hard as we do for them. The best way for a company to expect to see millennials bright-eyed and ready to work is if you are seeking to build a community within the business. This community offers ways to enhance the workday through employee fitness, in-house meals, and weekly town hall meetings. All of which offer avenues for employees to maintain their personal well-being and communicate their group needs.

Overall, Millennials want to work and be appreciated for the work they do. Ideally, companies should note the change and seek to include the values of this generation. We want to be sustainable, we are not concerned with getting a job to pay bills, we do not wish to participate in climbing the corporate ladder, and we are the first predominately non-white generation in the workforce. The needs of millennial workers are simple and ultimately leave only one thing to be said; we are the capital and we are more valuable than dollars and cents. As the face of working America changes, the workplace must meet the change with an open mind rather than holding on to a model that only benefits the top 1%.

 

Sources: millennialbranding.com, forbes.com, world factbook;USA, peer surveys
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Woman of The Week:(NATURA)LISTA Attorney Bisa Ajanaku

 

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Bisa Ajanaku is more than just her hair!

Being a natural-haired woman can come with so many challenges.  You have to learn how to stare self-acceptance in the face, you have to block any negativity from people who just don’t agree with, or understand your decision and most importantly you have to “stand in your truth,” and embrace the beautiful curly tresses coming from your head.

“Hold your head up darling, we would hate to see your Crown fall.” <<– A little encouragement for all of my natural-haired queens out there.

Attorney Bisa Ajanaku is an attorney, aspiring collegiate educator and daring natural-haired diva, who is determined to redefine the ideals of beauty for women of color– starting in the workplace.

One of the largest determinants for most women on whether or not they decide to go natural, is usually if they feel like it would be appropriate in “Corporate America.” A lot of times we as women think that we have to sacrifice the health of our hair to maintain our positioning at work, but with the recent explosion of the natural hair movement, that is becoming less and less true.

Natura had the opportunity to speak with Attorney Bisa Ajanaku,the Associate General Counsel, at the largest public academic healthcare system in the state of Georgia. We talked about natural hair, self-acceptance, stereotypes and how to be confident and natural in “Corporate America.”

Check out our chat below, and let me know your thoughts! Have you had any issues with wearing your natural hair at work? (Comment Below) 

Xoxo

Malia

Malia: Can you tell me about your first experience with getting a relaxer, and why you decided to have one?

Bisa:The first time I had a relaxer I was about 11 years old. I had never had a relaxer before that time. I had locs from age 8 up until age 11, and when I went to live with my relatives, they shaved out my locs. When my hair grew out enough they gave me a relaxer. A Bantu as I recall. Which, if you know about relaxers, a Bantu is a strong one.

Malia:Can you tell me about your experience with wearing relaxers?

Bisa:I just remember that it burned. I was used to having my locs, and not having to have anything done to my hair. But I liked that my hair hung down long, just the way my locs did. I didn’t like the fact that you had to do it so often, but it seemed to make things easier for my aunt, so I didn’t complain too much.

Malia: What motivated you to return back to wearing your natural hair, when it wasn’t necessarily popular?

Bisa:When I was about 19, I shaved out my perm and grew my hair from that tapered little fro into a big fro. I did it because I felt a bit convicted about it all.   My family had always been natural, and I didn’t feel like perms were me, and I wanted to be different. I saw myself as a person with confidence and it didn’t seem to fit how I saw myself with the permed hair. It was tough. I think I went natural in 1996, and there were very few women who were doing that. And so, I went through my ugly stage, where I felt so ugly and I had this big fro, and everybody else had these long weaves and these perms. But, I wanted to be authentic, and that has been the theme of my life. For me it was authentic to wear my hair as it grew out, I thought to myself how can I feel like what grows from my hair is not pretty? I just mentally couldn’t make that work. So, I thought this has got to be ok if this is how I came into the world, and this is what comes out of my head naturally. So, I had to find a way to love it, and eventually I did.

Malia:What has your experience been like, working in “Corporate America”, and wearing your natural hair?

Bisa:I have had an amazingly great experience with that. When I was hired for my first job at a big law firm, I had locs. And, nobody said a word. I never felt anything about it, and nobody ever made me feel bad about it. People didn’t even notice it, and if they did they didn’t say it. I always made sure to have my locs groomed, and I didn’t have any unusual colors or anything like that. People really seemed to embrace it. Once I decided to transition out of loc’s, and wearing a curly fro, I get nothing but compliments. People really remember you. You really stand out. But I think how you present it, and how you feel about it, is how other people are going to feel about it too.

Malia:What is the hair demographic in your line of work, but mainly at your law firm?

Bisa:The hair demographic is about 95-96 % of women wearing straight hair. None of my attorney friends wear their hair curly. I am the only one. A couple of my friends who work in government in D.C. do it, but I think the government can be a little more forgiving than the corporate world.

Malia:Do you feel like your friends won’t wear their hair in its curly form because they feel like they wont be accepted or taken seriously in the work place?

Bisa: I do feel that they think that they won’t be taken seriously. I have had people say to me that they want to have a professional look, and don’t believe curly natural hair is professional. I feel like that has been ingrained in us, and what we are supposed to be, and what we are supposed to look like.

Malia:What are you trying to do, break the mold of the way that black women look in the work place?

Bisa: I wear my hair curly 99% of the time and in all of my professional photos. I straighten my hair about 3 times a year. And get so frustrated when I do straighten it and people react like “oh it is so beautiful,” and it bugs me! I walk around with it curly everyday, and I don’t get as many compliments. But I will always stand in my truth. This is a professional look, and this is how I look. If it is ok for our white women to wear their hair straight—what’s natural for them, then it ought to be natural for me to wear my hair the way it grows out of my head. From meetings with my CEO to appearing in court, I embrace that this is me, and that ought to be alright.

Malia:Do you feel like there are overwhelming stereotypes about black women in high power positions, in your field of work?

Bisa:I do think there are. I think there is a stereotype that black women are angry, confrontational, lonely, and unable to be married. There are also stereotypes about how we look, and those to me have a lot to do with if your hair is natural then you must be militant.

Malia: What advice would you give women who are leery about going natural, because of their position at work?

 Bisa: I think that it is a process. You should be forgiving and patient with yourself. Thank goodness for blogs like yours, where we can see ourselves because for the most part every magazine we pick up, the standard of beauty doesn’t look like us and the world doesn’t tell us that we are beautiful. So the first thing that I would say is to be patient with yourself. Be patient with the process of breaking down what you’ve been taught. Like I mentioned earlier, I had what I called “my ugly phase,” where I had to embrace everything about myself. What I realized was that people will see it too.

 

I’m fortunate to have a partner who hates my hair straight but I think that is because all he is used to seeing, is me curly. Then I said this is who I am, this who I’m going to be. It takes time to get there. Also, my advice would be to experiment, and figure out what you are comfortable with. Some women like to do twist outs, so that they can have more control. Some women like to wear their hair shorter, some don’t like wash-n-go’s. Figure out what works best for you so, that when you look in the mirror you begin to become more and more comfortable. I do think, in terms of being professional, one thing you have to do is, you can’t change your look every day. Because people do need to remember you. So, it is important to figure out what your look is. You can deviate every blue moon. I think even if it is a little wild like a color or style that is a little different, as long as it is your signature look. So just take your time, and figure out what works best for you.

Malia: What is next for you?

Bisa:I thoroughly enjoy the work I do at Grady Health System, in the future, however I really look forward to getting involved in education, perhaps as a part time professor. I’m currently involved in several programs that support educational initiatives around legal education for young attorneys.

 

You can reach her on Linkedin HERE

Twitter @bisa715

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Natural Hair In A Corporate World..

As natural hair continues to increase in popularity and become more mainstream,

Corporate  America is gradually jumping on the bandwagon and becoming more

accommodating of the growing change.  The 21st century African-American woman is no

longer restricted to having ” bone-straight” hair, there are so many other styling options

and the corporate world is becoming more aware of that.

Check out my article on ” Natural Hair In Corporate America” (here). Do you feel like 

your natural hair has an impact on your progress in the work force?

 

Xoxo

Naturalia