Black power in the workplace – The Voice Online

Written by: Joel Campbell
The book space was missing a crucial text, according to author Rene Germain — so she filled it with ‘Black and Great: The Essential Workplace Toolkit’
BLACK AND Great: The Essential Workplace Toolkit was brought about to address the lack of career guidance that specifically supports the black community.
Author Rene Germain told the Voice it was a “careers book for black students and professionals featuring open letters, interviews and insights from over 20 leading black British voices sharing their career journeys”.
Those include: Beverley Knight, Sir Steve McQueen, Trevor Nelson, Christine Ohuruogu and Ashley Walters.
Writing in her own words, Germain explained what she had pulled together, why and where she hoped it would be most valuable.
“Through personal anecdotes and real-life examples, I’ve written chapters on key career and workplace topics such as salary negotiation, crafting a personal brand, overcoming imposter syndrome, navigating career pivots, preparing for the future of work and more.
“The idea for Black and Great came to me in 2017, a year after I had graduated from university and fully immersed in the corporate world of financial services.
“It didn’t take long for me to realise, based on my own experience and what I could see, that the black workplace experience was different, often times challenging.
“There are so few black people that get through the door across many industries, but even once we get in, we’re faced with racism, microaggressions, we’re underpaid and lack progression opportunities. Our entire existence in these organisations is defined and characterised by inaccurate stereotypes and colonial tropes.
“As an only child of West Indian heritage, one of the first people in my family to attend university and without a network of people who could help me navigate these environments, like many young black people, I felt unprepared.
“I started to blog about my workplace learnings on Medium to share advice to black students that were soon to graduate or at their beginning of their careers like myself.”
She added: “I’d get so many messages from people wanting further advice or thanking me for writing about experiences they could relate to.
“I started to realise there was a need for careers advice that catered to our community.
“As I started to look for career advice in the form of books, podcasts and other mediums to help me with my own career, I noticed what existed was totally devoid of the black experience.
“It was like we didn’t exist. White writers were providing ‘one size fits all’ career advice that was meant to work for everyone, completely ignoring the multiple challenges that underrepresented employees, black employees face in the workplace and why. I knew the advice they were providing couldn’t be easily applied by us which motivated me to start working on an alternative in 2018.
“A careers book for us, by us which centres our voices and experiences. A careers book which celebrates black people from a variety of industries including medicine, law, music, technology, advertising, financial services, sport and more because we are not a monolith. A careers book with actionable advice and templates.
“A careers book which recognises the importance of community for black employees in predominantly white institutions.
“When I was writing Black and Great I thought about the black people like me who never had a black doctor growing up, never had a black school teacher or university lecturer, whose teachers only encouraged them to pursue sports or music, so didn’t know what was truly possible.
“I thought about the black people starting out in their careers, ambitious and determined to go far, but not sure how, who can’t see a blueprint.
“I thought about the black professionals a few years in, knowing they are underpaid, considering a career pivot, maybe in need of a sponsor but they don’t know where to begin.
“Black and Great is the careers book that we needed when we were kids, as students and need now as adults.”
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The Voice Newspaper is committed to celebrating black excellence, campaigning for positive change and informing the black community on important issues. Your financial contributions are essential to protect the future of the publication as we strive to help raise the profile of the black communities across the UK. Any size donation is welcome and we thank you for your continued support.

The Voice Newspaper is committed to celebrating black excellence, campaigning for positive change and informing the black community on important issues. Your financial contributions are essential to protect the future of the publication as we strive to help raise the profile of the black communities across the UK. Any size donation is welcome and we thank you for your continued support.
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