Since 1976, February has been officially recognized as Black History Month in the United States. This year’s theme of “Black Resistance” focuses on how African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression in all forms since the nation’s earliest days.
We asked three members of our Black Professional Alliance (BPA) ERG to share how that theme, and the broader concept of resilience, resonates in their lives.
Here is the question each of them answered, followed by their responses:
What do you feel have been the biggest resiliency factors for you as a Black person in the workplace when confronting challenges related to bias?
“As a Black person in the workplace I find community and purpose to be my largest sources of resiliency to bias.
The greatest contributors to a sense of belonging or community are my friends and family. Without them, it would be impossible for me to be grounded in who I am as a person. In times of challenge, you can be pushed off your central purpose without the anchor of your loved ones. There are times when I need someone shouting from my corner, ‘Show them who you are.’
Second on my list would be my co-workers. As long as I’ve worked at Viasat, I’ve been struck by the opportunity that we have as employees to collaborate, commiserate with and challenge some of the most talented people in this industry. I’m honored to be considered a peer to these people.
Furthermore, Viasat has offered us the opportunity to develop even stronger sources of community through its employee resource groups (ERGs). For me, an ERG merges community and purpose. We get the opportunity to network and socialize with other Viasat employees as we work to better the targeted communities of that ERG, both internally and externally.”
Supply Chain Director
“As a Black woman in the workplace, I’ve encountered physical, emotional, and social resiliency to bias when faced with adversity.
Social support is extremely important to me when I am faced with challenges related to bias. No one should ever have to combat biases alone, so I have formed relationships in and outside my department, including the Black Professional Alliance ERG. The people I choose to confide in offer honest advice that I use while at work.
I am so grateful for those who advocate for and support me when I need advice and those who think of me for opportunities that will help me grow. Regular check-ins from my support system help keep me encouraged and make me feel appreciated. Because of this, I have a safe place to voice my concerns.
I am grateful for those who’ve encouraged me to pursue personal and professional growth opportunities. And I want to thank those who’ve made positive changes in the workplace. Change is always possible.
In the words of the great Maya Angelou, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Inventory Control Representative
“As a black leader, my most significant resiliency factors for confronting workplace bias are authenticity, competence (mental toughness), coping, and control.
I believe that showing up to work as my authentic self allows me to be myself without putting on a work persona. I wish I could say that I have mastered this area, but truthfully, it is a muscle I must intentionally exercise daily. When I do, I can confidently express myself, deploy my strengths, build solid relationships, and encourage others to share the knowledge needed to make decisions.
Under the competency umbrella, mental toughness and flexibility are vital factors I continuously work to grow throughout my career. Bouncing back from adversity is not easy, especially regarding bias. As an optimist, I understand that there are things that I can control and things that I cannot. By reframing my view of challenges, adversity, setbacks, and rejections as opportunities for growth, I remain inspired to problem-solve with a clear and focused mind.
Lastly, coping and control are the most essential resiliency factors as they are directly related to self-care and prioritizing your well–being. It is how you manage stress to avoid burnout. I manage stress by going to bed on time, waking up early, and a 30, 45, or 60-minute ride on my Peloton.”
For more information about this year’s theme, please visit the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
For more information about the Black Professional Alliance (BPA) ERG or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Viasat, please reach out to Diversity.Inclusion@viasat.com.