I Choose the Lader highlights professional Black women to other companies and promotes Black women to achieve their highest occupational goals.
I Choose the Ladder is a career development agency specifically for Black women in corporate America & for corporations who want to attract high-performing Black female talent.
Owner Watchen Nyanue started the company in 2018 as a podcast. The Liberian native realized that she entered the corporate world with a lot of privilege. With mentors who graced the covers of Forbes and were high-profile professionals, the owner thought other working Black women had the same opportunity.
“When I realized that wasn’t the case, I wanted to create a space where I can introduce women who look like me in the workforce to similar mentors,” she said. “These mentors can provide advice and tangible things for the women to climb the corporate ladder.
The company originally catered to Black women consumers and then expanded to corporations that hire Black women to create professional experiences for their Black employees.
“One of the gaps that we have that pertain to success in corporate is access to resources and information that our peers have that we don’t typically have,” Nyanue said.
The owner emphasized that there are certain challenges that Black women have that are unique to them. For example, people tend to mentor people who look like them. Studies show that most senior-level women are white, which means that these women are mentoring young white women.
“Typically when people talk about women in the workplace, they’re talking about white women,” she said. “And then everyone else is an afterthought. So a lot of the resources are created with white women in mind.”
The question becomes why are there fewer Black people or Black women in management and senior-level positions? “Is it a skills issue? Is it a development issue? Were these women not seen as potential leaders in the organization? Or is there a cap to how far people can go?” Nyanue wondered. A lot of Black women leave these companies because the organizations aren’t seeing their potential.
“As spaces become more diversify, there’s a slower process of being inclusive of people, and companies are taking it more seriously for the last 18 months,” she said. “They’re opening their eyes to what their employees are facing.”
Movements like #pullupforchange challenged major companies and organizations to reveal their Black representations at their corporations and promise to change their tactics. Companies like Lush Cosmetics revealed that 6% of Black people work at the corporate level, whereas 0% work at a leadership level. After this revelation, the company said that it would commit to 90 days of listening and learning from its employees to see how they can improve. Through this, the company committed to learning more about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I Choose the Ladder assists companies to make these necessary changes. The organization helps other companies invest more into diversity through their workshops and useful resources. The majority of the companies who reach out to I Choose the Ladder understand the value of Black women in the workplace. They usually are finding more ways to benefit them.
“A lot of corporations are trying to figure it out,” Nyaune said. “A lot of the conversations have just started like 12 months ago. They’re like, “Dang, why didn’t we realize this sooner?’ and now it’s like, ‘Ok now that we do now, how can we try to accelerate what we’re doing to make EVERYONE feel like they belong in these spaces?'”
Nyanue believes that there is hope that you can find your professional home in a corporation if that’s what you choose.
“You have to decide the role that this current job is going to play in your overall career,” she said. “One of the things that we get tripped up on is that we get so attached to jobs, company names, and titles that we stay longer than we should in companies.”
Some of the key takeaways Nyanue provided were:
- Career mission statement: what are you trying to accomplish in your career? How does this role help you fulfill a part of your mission statement? When you understand why you’re there, it’s a lot easier to deal with the foolishness that’ll come regardless of what corporate or environment you are in. YOU KNOW THIS IS NOT YOUR FINAL STOP. You’re there to grow, learn & network.
- DO NOT compromise your values for a job or a paycheck
- Prioritize the work, and the right companies will come.
- Imposter Syndrome is real! You assume the best about the people sitting across the table from you and the worst about yourself concerning them. Stop making assumptions about people who are around the table with you. You have no idea how they got in those seats.
- Make sure you’re keeping receipts of what you do while at your job. It’s your job to make sure your boss has the information that he/she needs to advocate for you when you’re not there. And keep receipts of your performance based on data, not your feelings. Example: I FEEL like I deserve a raise because instead, think of preparing, performing, and proving. Prepare what it is you’re asking for, then go out there & KILL IT! & then proved that’s you killed it.
Corporations play a role, and I Choose the Ladder can help you climb the corporate ladder.