Navigating double standards for women of colour in business.

Double standards are still commonplace in business — this is still especially true for a woman of colour.

But just because these standards exist doesn’t mean you must abide by them. In fact, now more than ever, is a time to stand strong against such behaviours.

Whether we’re talking to a client, or spending time with friends, we actively push for a world where everyone is treated the same.

Here are our tips for navigating double standards as a black woman in business.


Don’t listen to the haters

Society has an image of professionalism that has existed for years. As a black woman, I’m no stranger to this kind of discrimination.

In fact, a recent study found that Black women with natural hairstyles were perceived to be less professional and less competent and were less likely to be recommended for job interviews than their white counterparts.

If you run your own business, you’ve got the power. You can wear your hair, uniform or style however you want to.

The more businesses (and business owners) that challenge these so-called ‘norms’, the more the conversation will change.

I’d say wearing your hair in a fro is far more assertive than just wearing a plain old suit.


Find your ‘weird’

If you’re struggling with feeling like another cog in the machine, maybe it’s because your business isn’t weird enough. Seriously.

By injecting your personality into your business, you’ll be on the right track to standing out from the crowd and being a better business owner as a result.

For example, you could host a business meeting with other firms and find out what’s important to them, discussing your interests, hobbies, and passions.

Whatever you find, it’s important to know that being weird is far better than being normal.


Call out the wrong behaviours

Part of dealing with double standards means calling it out whenever you see it in the flesh.

If someone were to speak to me in a way I didn’t like, I’d call it out there and then.

By holding other people accountable, you’re making sure the conversation is always on the right track, and you’re in control of the situation.

But it shouldn’t have to be like this – if what you’re experiencing is too much, it’s not your place to act as judge.

In the case of someone causing discrimination, know that you have the power to speak up.

Know that you have the right to take someone to court/tribunal. And by speaking to your other close business connections, you’ll have a support network you can rely on to guide you through the tough times.


Talk to us

Being a business owner means standing up for what you believe in, taking time to look after your people, and living the life you want to live.

It’s hard to stay on top of everything, especially when it’s to do with who you are. But know that you’re not alone out there.

If you want to talk about anything we’ve mentioned in this article, give us a call.

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