By Agatha Agbanobi and T. Viva Asmelash, Photo Illustration: HBR Staff/Westend61/Getty Images, Harvard Business Review, May 22, 2023
Minda Harts felt unseen. Her manager had informed her that her white male colleague had been reporting false information about her work. She sat in shock and disbelief as her manager made excuses for him, because he was going through a rough time in his personal life. Minda had believed that she and her colleague had a good working relationship and mutual respect, even though they were competing for the same promotion. Her manager reassured her that she had not believed his false reports and that Minda should stay focused on the assigned project.
While Minda excelled in the project and edged out her colleague for the promotion, she felt betrayed and lost trust with her manager, who seemingly ignored the emotional and mental impact of the accusations.
Minda’s story, which she shares in her recent book Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace, is an example of the psychological and emotional duress that we, as Black women and gender-expansive Black individuals, face while trying to achieve our best work in the workplace. Feelings of inclusion, connection, and trust with colleagues and managers are harder to come by for Black women due to the historical and sociocultural context of the U.S. workplace, and more broadly, our country.