The Strength of Traveling Knowledge

My summer months are often spent attending enriching conferences and conventions based on personal interests and industries of involvement -- communications, media, marketing, advertising, entertainment and education. Participating in these events enables me to build impactful connections with like-minded individuals and provides significant professional development opportunities. I anticipate learning new concepts and strategies, strengthening my network and developing newengaging relationships. Through these events, I have established strong friendships that have positively impacted my career.

In July, I attended ColorComm’s annual conference #C2Miami with 32 women across IPG, as a new member of the FCB Global family. ColorComm founded by a fellow millennial, Lauren Wesley Wilson, started in the Spring of 2011, with a luncheon of 34 women in Washington, D.C. One successful luncheon has now turned into a powerful nation-wide women-led community of students and professionals in the industries of Public Relations, Corporate Communications, Advertising Print Media, Broadcast, Digital and more.

Here are a few of my takeaways from this year’s ColorComm conference:

  1. Be a blessing and ask others, “How can I help you and what are you looking for?” By asking these questions, you’re opening a door to provide expertise and guidance. Moreover, you're earning respect and building new relationships.
  2. Strengthen your network with not just mentors, but with those whom you can assist and support; you may even meet someone to potentially mentor in the future.
  3. Continue to learn, implement new techniques and strategies and challenge yourself and others to move the diversity and inclusion needle further to create real progress.
  4. Discuss salary expectations and questions with your network to make sure you’re earning industry standard compensation and make sure you know what you truly deserve.

At ColorComm, compensation was a big conversation. In fact one of my sheroes, Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Morgan Stanley, shared #CarlasPearls, some of which were “Performance Currency,” which is generated by you going above and beyond what’s asked of you. Additionally, she discussed “Relationship Currency,” which is generated in the investments you make in the people in your environment. For career growth it's imperative that those of influence in your organization know who you’re. Having strong relationships throughout the company is important because your success will be dependent upon someone else’s

Women should be comfortable discussing salary, which is truly instrumental to career growth. At present, women earn an average of 80 cents for every dollar compared to men, but the wage gap is much deeper for women of color. According to the Women’s Law Center, black women working in full-time roles make only $0.63 cents for every dollar paid to their white male counterparts. Black women are uniquely positioned to be subjected to both a racial pay gap and a gender pay gap.

On the topic of salary in particular, Angelina Darrisaw, CEO and founder of C-Suite Coach, which provides affordable and accessible coaching and career content to diverse young professionals (and focuses on expanding business partnerships and training more C-Suite Coaches,) said: “Remember the value you bring and note that in some states soon it will be illegal to base future salary off of past pay. That is one step states are taking to minimize the pay gap. Finally, the onus shouldn't be on us to ask, but we also have to ask. Force yourself to negotiate something. Anything. Even if it's just a later start time. And encourage the other women of color in your circle to do the same. Too often, we encourage each other to just ‘get our foot in the door’ or ‘consider the exposure.’ But, exposure and access do not close the pay gap. Encourage your girls and yourself to get the pay they deserve.” 

Early this month, I attended my favorite annual conference, the National Associate of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention, in New Orleans. This year was extremely special, because I presented for the first time at NABJ to a jam-packed room of college students, recent-grads, as well as seasoned professionals in various roles in journalism, sports, media and news.

My overarching takeaways from this year’s NABJ convention:

  1. Pertinent conversations about diversity and inclusion are imperative to drive industry growth, especially in news media.
  2. There are others just like you, striving to excel in the same industry so look to them and work together whenever possible; your network provides invaluable career strength.
  3. Diverse journalists matter, perhaps now more than ever, our voices are imperative -- power through!
  4. I am forever encouraged to be great and produce excellence by the amount of talent gathered in every setting at NABJ.

I love belonging to professional organizations like ColorComm and NABJ because they remind me of how important is to have a growing network to share ideas with, collaborate and most importantly celebrate. I encourage everyone to join organizations that are specific to their area of expertise or career aspiration.

 

"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish." —Michelle Obama