Trigger Warning: This story may contain derogatory language and/or discriminatory behavior
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Grin & Bear It

Analysis by
Marc Wilson

Inviting openness and vulnerability should be shared experiences between both BIPOCs and the agency’s White majority.

During one-on-one meetings with my then boss, she would ask me why I didn't smile. She felt since I wasn't walking around with a smile on my face that I did not like my job or want to be there. So then I would purposely walk around smiling so that she wouldn't say anything. It made me feel un-human. Like I could not show any emotions while at work; not fear, anger, or sadness.

[.row][.column]Inviting openness and vulnerability should be shared experiences between both BIPOCs and the agency’s White majority. [.column][.row]

…a joke that was made behind closed doors about the traditional African clothing I would wear… the company motto is "Bring your 'whole self' to work," I did just that and was the butt of someone's joke.

Everyone is welcome. Come as you are. Bring your whole self. These and other DEI mantras have recently become table stakes in an industry with an already blemished inclusivity track record. However, the broader agency culture has not caught up, one reason being that accountability measures, both explicit or implicit, are not in place when this ‘policy’ is violated. The behavior is then perpetuated as the norm vs. challenged as an egregious show of disrespect or discrimination. 

Encouraging authenticity and self-expression first requires a safe and environment for everyone. Cultivating an authentically accepting work culture, where we can inquire and openly share our different experiences and unique forms of self-expression, moves us from judgmental observers to actively curious coworkers.

These individuals often did not include me in work conversations… I wasn't invited to after-work activities.

The ad industry culture is based around team building and employee bonding within social settings. This could create a clique mentality, where those perceived to be ‘on the outside’ are left out or seen as a threat to the balance of the group. The burden is then on BIPOCS, who already show up as ‘others’, to actively insert themselves into social situations where their outsider status could make an invitation or overall acceptance difficult. 

The feelings of confusion, rejection, and isolation can then be self-perpetuated as the BIPOC agency worker may openly reject the dominant group, furthering mutual distrust or animosity. Efforts to reach out and across racial group lines by the White majoity group can create a greater sense of commonality and community, helping to forge reciprocation and trust between groups.

Reflections From Writer
No items found.
No items found.