Written by: Admin_SheEvo
My first year working in Corporate South Africa as a black woman was a journey of both triumphs and challenges, a year that reshaped my perspective on the corporate world and my own identity.
Entering a predominantly white corporate environment, I carried a mixture of excitement and apprehension. It was a realm I had always aspired to be a part of, but I was aware of the systemic obstacles that often stood in the way of people like me. Yet, I was determined to break through those barriers.
From day one, I felt the weight of representation on my shoulders. I was often the only black woman in the room during meetings, and it was evident that many eyes were on me, silently questioning whether I belonged there. But I refused to let that intimidate me. I knew I had earned my place through hard work, talent, and dedication.
My first year was a whirlwind of learning and adapting. I had to listen, observe, and absorb knowledge like a sponge and I had to do all of this very quickly. I found mentors who recognized my potential and helped me navigate the intricate corporate landscape. They encouraged me to speak up, to share my unique perspective, and to be unapologetically myself. Challenges were inevitable. Microaggressions and stereotypes happened occasionally I faced moments when I had to assert myself more strongly than my counterparts to be heard. It was exhausting at times, but it only strengthened my resolve.
What surprised me most was the sense of solidarity I found among fellow black colleagues. We formed a support network, sharing our experiences, offering guidance, and celebrating each other’s achievements. Together, we realized that we were not alone in our journey and that our voices mattered.
As my first year comes to end, I looked back with a sense of accomplishment. I had broken through barriers, shattered preconceived notions, and made a place for myself in a corporate world that had often been unwelcoming to people of colour. I was no longer just a statistic, I was a catalyst for change, a symbol of what determination and resilience could achieve.