Author Archives: brandemartin

How To Deal With Racism Or Unconscious Bias From Coworkers

Many companies are adding diversity and inclusion programs and hiring chief equity and diversity officers to their organizations. Yet I wonder about the effectiveness of these programs; I wonder if it matters or makes a difference in the workplace for women of color. It is a difficult task to change people’s hearts and minds.

As a woman of color, I can’t help but think about questions I have been asked when I am the only or one of few person(s) of color among colleagues:

“How did you get an invitation to that event? Maybe we’ll find out you are more important than we thought.”

It was an exclusive event that was invite-only.

“What are you doing here?”

I was asked in a degrading tone when I saw a senior leader of a company of a previous employer at a paid event. I was sitting in the same tier of paid seats as she had.

“Don’t you feel uncomfortable at this conference, being the only black person?”

I was asked by a woman at a digital marketing conference.

Hearing these questions posed to me, I was suddenly eight years old again, standing next to my parents in the lobby of a symphony orchestra hall before the concert began. We were one of the only diverse families at the concert. Before entering to take our seats, a couple walked up to our family and sneered, “Who gave you tickets?” In those days, people of color were not expected to attend the symphony – or to have purchased season tickets, as we had done – and were not often welcomed.

Fast-forward thirty years, and I am being asked these similar types of questions in workplace settings.

[Related: Changing the Culture of Business from the Inside Out]

What prompts these questions: racism or unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias is defined as “learned social stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply engrained, universal, and able to influence behavior,” according to researcher Mike Noon at Queen Mary, University of London.

2017 article in Psychology Today provides two distinct definitions of racism:

The traditional meaning of the term refers to explicit beliefs (or messages or policies or actions) about the value and place of the various races, with a particular emphasis on the idea that some races are inherently superior when compared to others.

The other definition of racism [progressive], refers to the implicit and institutional structures that can bias the flow of power, influence, and resources towards some races and away from others.

Unconscious bias and racism both have negative effects on workplace relationships and career growth for women of color. Many of us have to deal with disparaging questions and remarks, making us feel excluded because of our diversity. These situations of isolation and being questioned about our status, value, or presence in professional settings have been ongoing for decades.

Are diversity and inclusion efforts truly working, or will they ever work? Ragan’s PR Daily published an article in 2019 stating:

Many diversity and inclusion programs are failing… three-fourths of underrepresented groups (women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ employees, for example) report feeling no personal benefit from diversity and inclusion programs.

[Related: Unintended Consequences of Unconscious Bias]

Perhaps these programs have not had enough time to make an impact in our current climate, but we must continue to strive for improvements and understanding.

Regardless of whether these diversity and inclusion programs are effective, you can be your own advocate and empower yourself in handling uncomfortable and demeaning encounters. So, how does one deal with racist or biased incidents?

1) Start a dialogue.

Be straightforward and ask the individual to explain their intentions about their question or comment. You can educate the person as to why what they said was offensive and hurtful.

Also, in having this discussion, you may learn that you misunderstood the tone of their question or remark.

2) Let others know about the situation.

Discuss the awkward circumstances with trusted coworkers. By doing this, you may discover that other coworkers are having these same experiences.

You can create a new network of colleagues as your support system to discuss diversity and inclusion and ways to raise awareness of issues.

3) Recognize your value and worth.

You must take ownership of the fact that your hard work, skills, and knowledge make you deserving of your position and entry into events. Do not let your peers or leaders define your value.

Yes, it is a challenge when a boss or toxic employee can affect your job status, but you must forge ahead. Remember that the dedication you have given to develop your career so far can continue to carry you forward.

4) Be courageous.

You may need to involve your human resources department if you are being excluded on grounds of discrimination, or if an incident is overtly racist. However, if you do not have a supportive HR department, try to find an internal sponsor or advocate to help you.

If neither of these options are viable, then you may need to seek legal counsel, which should be the last course of action. You may need to make a more permanent change and find a new place of employment if the problem is inherent in the culture of your current employer.

Most importantly, remember this: You have a voice and you are worthy of belonging.

[Related: 10 Rules of Success For Women of Color at Work]

This article was originally posted on, October 16, 2019.

5 Ways to Manage Burnout in a Digital Career

Women burned out with work.
Avoid burnout in your digital career.

By Brande Nicole Martin, MA

Many women who have careers in digital are in the throes of burnout before we even recognize what is happening to us.

We enjoy the new technologies, the rapid pace of creating and publishing digital and social content, and monitoring and assessing data. The “newness” and changes of the industry are some of the reasons why we have chosen to enter this profession. It is exhilarating.

However, staying on the pulse of an almost 24/7 industry causes a conflict with our personal and professional lives. We feel the need to be constantly aware of and knowledgeable about all that is occurring in the digital space. Yet, we may have husbands, children, aging parents, social activities, or volunteer engagements that are important to us. We want to stay healthy and fit, keep a tidy home or apartment, and manage all of our personal responsibilities efficiently.

Suddenly, exhaustion, frustration, disorganization, and sadness settle in, and we are overwhelmed.

1) Set boundaries with your digital devices.

Our career requires us to be connected to checking our digital devices frequently to execute on our work. If we are in management positions, we often have a responsibility to check our e-mails off business hours.

2) Focus on self-care.

Self-care includes the time you dedicate to resting, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and having fun. You should incorporate time to recharge and take care of yourself throughout your life as a digital professional.

Take vacations and staycations to provide you with a clear perspective when you return to the fast lane of digital. While in the middle of the hustle, remember to take an hour to get a massage, soak in a bath with your favorite music playing, or take a walk to relax.

The goal is to care for yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you are worn down, you will not be effective in your professional or personal life.

3) Have a support system.

Try to develop a professional support system so you have others to give you advice and feedback on career decisions. By joining professional groups in your niche area of digital, or a women’s group, you can begin to build a network of professional colleagues.

Also, having a personal network of friends is helpful in getting you through the stressors of your daily work life. Friends help you to detach from your busy days and allow you to laugh and discuss topics other than work. Sometimes your professional and personal friendships overlap, and these relationships can be powerful ways to feel supported throughout your career journey.

4) Be present and look forward.

It is tempting to get harnessed by past negative experiences that happened at your job or in previous circumstances. Reflecting on the past is beneficial if you remember to use the information as lessons learned in moving forward.

You will always have certain employees, co-workers, and others providing obstacles as you are growing in your career, and this can be draining and contribute to burnout, as well. Remember: You can’t look sideways or backwards to continue your success or to find new ideas and opportunities. Always keep looking forward.

5) Practice self-compassion and forgiveness.

Nobody is perfect, so you will make mistakes. You must be kind to yourself and forgive yourself if you make an error. Keep focused on how best to execute your immediate goals.

This article was originally posted on, May 15, 2019.

Social Media Content, Spices, and Food Trucks

Colorful letters coming out of home cook soup bowlA key ingredient to a good social media strategy is offering readers great content. You want to engage and entice the audience with mouth-watering content that keeps them coming back for more, sharing with their friends, and raving about your selections.

Read more

Content Governance Tips To Manage Resistance to the Plan

Businessman Resistant to Content PlanPresenting the new content governance plan often causes frowns, sighs, and smirks from employees. Many employees put up a force field of resistance to changing their familiar processes of writing or posting content on the website.

Read more

Share Your Insights
What approaches have you used to manage employee resistance to your content governance plan?