By Dudley Duberry, San Francisco Office Manager
As a person of color or a member of an underrepresented group, it can sometimes be a real struggle to be seen and valued for your work. It can be even harder when trying to grow your career. The Zuora Black Network ERG understands these challenges, so we decided to do the hard thing and talk about it with our fellow ZEOs.
To help navigate this robust conversation, I sat down with the hosts of the Podcast C-Crets, Keith Powell and Ricky Robinson who have experienced these struggles as they’ve climbed the corporate ladder for the past 20+ years. We discussed four steps everyone can take to guide their career to the next level while maintaining their authenticity. The best part? It didn’t matter if you were a woman, LBGTQ+, Latin X, or a cis male or female; the conversation was a safe place to learn, be inspired, and to take action in your career.
Here are four C-CRETS to advocating for your career and amplifying your voice in the workplace.
Be Honest with Yourself
As we take ownership of our careers, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself, conduct a personal SWOT analysis, get feedback from trusted peers that will tell you the truth. Take feedback from your manager to understand what may be needed for improvement. Then use all of the information you’ve gathered to create a plan to gain the skills, projects, or knowledge necessary to get to the next level.
What resonated with me most in this conversation was the understanding of how Mentorship and Sponsorship differ. Ricky from C-Certs broke it down like this: “A mentor can help you navigate through the fog to help you see your destination. A sponsor will put you in their boat and take you to that destination.” Keith continued, “Sponsors put their credibility and reputation on the line for the individual. It is essential to show up correctly and be prepared.” Then, sponsors will come.
Secondly, Broadcast your career successes strategically in a humble way. Regularly share your strengths and ask for feedback from trusted sources and be accountable. Strategically talk about your areas of growth so that potential sponsors and mentors know that you are actively working on it and showing progress. And don’t forget to utilize your network. They are there to help you move forward, so use them wisely.
Focus on your Strengths
Focus on the strengths you bring to the table and use them to your advantage when offered new opportunities. Do your best work always and show consistency in it. Consistent and positive execution of major and minor projects helps your known and unknown sponsors advocate for your career growth when you are not in the room.
Plug the Hole
Finally, Plug the hole. We all have blind spots, weaknesses, and gaps in our knowledge. So, Plug them! Seek resources and training from various sources. Oprah Winfrey said it best, “surround yourself with people who will lift you higher,” and their energy will inspire you to be a better worker and leader.
While we can all benefit from C-Crets’ advice, having these types of conversations within Zuora and the greater tech industry are necessary steps to chip away at structural inequities and amplify underrepresented voices. These tools allow us to be seen, heard, and celebrated as we take our careers’ to the next level with the support of our team members, directors, VPs and our larger tech community.
Interested in growing your career with Zuora? Check out our current job openings.