Survival Mode: An Unexpected Twist
By Dana Garrett
Recently, I read an article written by D. Shante titled “I’m Exhausted From Trying To Be The “Right” Kind Of Black Girl At Work.” She discussed the measures Black women in the workplace take to avoid being labeled as “loud,” “ghetto,” or “that” girl with the attitude. Shante went on to refer to these counterproductive measures as “survival mode.” Survival mode is debilitating, a drainer of creativity, and causes an enormous amount of stress––to the point where it’s nearly impossible for anyone to perform efficiently.
I can specifically identify an occasion when I lived in survival mode. At the beginning of my career, I had just started work at my first company. One of the first people who took the time to help show me “the ropes” was my senior supervisor. Unbeknownst to me, she had a representation around the company for being “loud,” “ghetto,” etc. However, I viewed her as an empathic, competent leader. As time passed, people began to label me with similar stereotypes, which completely bewildered me and caused me to second guess my actions. I felt as though I had to become a watered-down version of myself. I soon began to lose the confidence to express my ideas and challenge the norm. Shortly after, my career progression at that particular organization stagnated. After spending over a year trying to “survive,” I eventually requested to transfer to a different location.
Today, as a Dog Tag Fellow, I can genuinely say that I have not entered survival mode. The Dog Tag program centers around the belief that the only way we can be successful is as our most authentic selves.The staff encourages our individuality. As a result, I am able to focus more on developing new ideas and enhancing old ones. I am incredibly proud to have started my own freight arrangement company called BPG Logistics LLC. My company focuses on connecting shippers with carriers; For both shippers and carriers we handle invoices, track shipments, maintain customer relationships, and allow them access to our transportation management system so they can focus on their core capabilities.
In my opinion, Dog Tag has created a space that allows everyone to be comfortable. These types of spaces are essential for any organization looking to maximize their employees’ potential. I also believe it is important to recognize organizations that have taken the time to create such welcoming environments. I strongly believe working in an atmosphere where I did not have go into survival mode has allowed me to focus on my transition and building my business.
Dana is an Army veteran who will graduate from the Dog Tag Fellowship program in June 2018. To learn more about Dana and other Winter 2018 Dog Tag Fellows, click here!