When it comes to work-life balance, Black professionals are often left out of the conversation. You know the saying, “when you’re Black, you gotta work twice as hard.” Unfortunately, it’s not just a saying but a reality for many, if not all, Black professionals. From lack of access to opportunities to facing discrimination in the workplace, Black professionals often have to overcome significant obstacles just to achieve the same level of success and attain a similar degree of work-life balance as their White or non-Black counterparts.
Work-life balance isn’t easily gained or simply does’n’t exist in many work settings. For Black professionals, it’s often difficult to find spaces where their professional and personal lives meet in mainstream society, which makes the balancing act all the more challenging.
What is Work-Life Balance?
The concept of work-life balance is often thrown around, but what does it mean? Work-Life Balance is commonly referred to as the sustainable managing or desired equilibrium of an individuals career alongside their personal lives. Managing both aspects well enough to live your best life without feeling overwhelmed by work is essential.
Finding this sweet spot where everything falls into its specific place will take time. However, when achieved feels worth it and will save you months of long work days, headaches, and stressful nights just navigating between work and play.
It’s about finding the right balance for you and your unique situation. Work-life balance isn’t always easy, but it’s worth striving for.
How Does Discrimination in the Workplace Impact Work-Life Balance?
Black professionals spend a lot of time and money to achieve their goals in life, but when they enter the workplace, it feels like an uphill battle. Work stressors such as discrimination, racism and any other form of inequitable treatment negatively impact their work experience, performance and ability to grow professionally- making Work-Life Balance even more challenging or a distant reality.
Racial discrimination in the workplace is a reality for Black professionals in any industry and can take on many forms. Even in instances when a Black professional is often the most qualified candidate for positions, they still face overt discrimination like being passed over or paid less than their White counterparts. They may also face more subtle and indirect forms of discrimination, such as microaggressions.
Microaggressions are everyday slights, insults, or comments that are unintentionally discriminatory. They can be hard to spot, but they can make Black people feel unwelcome, isolated, and devalued in the workplace.
These microaggressions can be both big and small. Sometimes they come in the form of well-meaning comments that just end up being tone-deaf.
Other times, they’re more deliberate comments like:
- “Where are you really from?”
- “You’re so articulate, and you speak so well.”
- “Your hair looks so much better when it’s straight like this!”
Red Flags in the Workplace
- Diversity Token: When you’re the only person of color in the room representing all Black people. Or feeling feel like the “diversity token” or “Black token”.
- Unrecognized: When you’re being passed over for promotions and opportunities.
- Culture fit: If you feel like you constantly have to adjust your behavior to fit in with the company culture, it might not be the best fit for you.
- Lack of diversity: If your workplace isn’t diverse, especially in the leadership, it might be a sign that they’re not really all that interested in diversity.
Despite contributing to the success of their organizations, several Black professionals find working a frustrating and discouraging experience. In many cases, Black women in tech are especially vulnerable to this discrimination.
Why Black Women Burnout?
Being a working woman is hard enough, but being a working Black woman comes with unique challenges. According to a study called “African-American Women and Work-Life Balance” by Alisha Diane Powell at Walden University, Black women face the same challenges of balancing work and home-life as other women. Still, they are also affected by discrimination, racism, classims and sexism in different ways as White women or even Black men. Yet, they’re supposed to be the perfect employees, mothers, wives, and daughters.
This creates difficulties when finding time for yourself, leading to health issues, including depression or anxiety.
The pressure of being a Black professional woman can be stressful. Black professional women are more likely to experience burnout than any other group. They’re often expected to do a lot in their personal and work lives, which takes its toll on them in many ways, including burnout. Black professional women are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Burnout is that feeling you get when you’re overwhelmed by work. When every day feels like a grind, and you can’t seem to catch a break.
What are the Signs of Burnout?
- Feeling exhausted all the time.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling overwhelmed or stressed
- Changes in appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Irritability or feeling short-tempered
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, take a step back and seek out support resources because prioritizing your health should always be your first priority. Your physical and mental health are worth it, don’t let a job break your soul.
Ways to Encourage Work-Life Balance
Black professionals, Black women, in particular, face challenges when juggling work and family responsibilities because they have added layers of complexity to consider.
The good news is that there are ways to combat these problems to achieve work-life balance:
1. Set boundaries between work and home. If you want to keep your sanity, you gotta set boundaries between the workplace and home. Otherwise, you’ll be reeling from burnout before you know it. Work can wait. Your peace of mind is worth more.
2. Make time for yourself every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Even if you’re busy, hustlin’ and grindin’, you need to get your ME time. Block out your planner just like you would a regular meeting. Gift yourself some daily loving.
3. Find a supportive community, whether it’s online or in-person.
Don’t go through life feeling alone; there’s a tribe of people out there who get you! Find them on Obsidi.com. You’ll have access to virtual, hybrid, and in-person events.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Ain’t no shame in asking for help when you need it. Just put yourself out there, and someone will be happy to help you.
The modern workplace is flexible, and work-life balance is a priority. Therefore, the best workplaces are those that offer flexibility. That way, you can mold your job to fit your life.
Despite the challenges, Black professionals are finding ways to create their work-life balance. Whether it’s through creating a support system of family and friends, developing a strong network of colleagues, or utilizing technology to stay connected, Black professionals are carving out their paths to success.
Global Masterclass by Canada Life
What’s the secret to thriving in a remote or hybrid work model? Is it possible to get the best of both worlds? Don’t sweat it. We’ve got you!
On July 21, 2022, BPTN has partnered with Canada Life to bring you a Global Masterclass titled, ‘The New Balancing Act: Managing Work, Wellness, & Well-being’.
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At some point in your professional life, you’ve probably felt like you had to work twice as hard as everyone else to get ahead. And if you’re a Black professional, that feeling maybe even stronger. You might ask yourself: why do I have to work so much harder than everyone else? The answer is complex, and lies in the unique challenges that Black professionals face in the workplace. But luckily, there are ways to overcome those challenges and succeed anyway. Save your spot here: