In the first of a series of thought pieces written by the team at Fight for Peace, our Academy Director, Jean-Pierre Moore shares his experiences of working in corporate environments in the UK, the barriers that can exist to accessing these sectors, and the importance of mindset, intentionality, and showing steel.
“I’ve worked in the heart of the City of London and it felt a little bit like walking on the moon. I had been a professional for quite a while, competent and confident of what I do, but that took me into a whole new world.
Applying for that job felt like a hail mary. Going for the interview I had to do a mindset piece on myself to kind of force myself to apply for it.
To get the job was an unbelievable validation of what I thought I was capable of, but also that these other people had confidence in me and it felt like I had finally reached this mountain top. Then I started working there and it was a snowy peak.
We have always been told in our family that we have to work three times as hard to be in the same place, but you manifest that when you are actually there. In the back of your mind if you come in late you have that feeling, it might not actually be true, but I am going to be perceived in a certain way if I am late, or if I take sick days, or if I get too combative in a conversation?
You have to balance that and then start projecting and stand in your truth as my big sister would say. I had to work out how to project my voice in those rooms without offending people, without people making judgements about my use of colloquialisms or my accent or my clothing.
I handled it by being an activist, being a bit louder and a bit prouder and using my opportunity to demonstrate that regardless of how I look or how I am perceived, this is the quality of my work.
It’s about owning those spaces and it’s not easy. It is intentional, and if you are not intentional about it it can eat away at you and can wear you down because you may be having a little battle of microaggressions all day, every day but you have to go in there knowing you are going to have those and accept that that is the reality of living in this country at this time.
I think that one of the barriers to working in environments that are alien to us can be ourselves, our own perception of our own limitations, and what’s for us and what is not for us.
And I think it’s the exposure to those environments that helps to mitigate that because you learn how to navigate the communication, how to come across in the right way. You get familiar with them, learn not to be intimidated by them, then learn the nuances of how you navigate those relationships and how you are perceived in them.
For me it can also provide you with a little bit of steel. In those more corporate environments I do the mindset job on myself of looking around those rooms and thinking, could they survive in my environment? I highly doubt it, but I can in theirs and that gives me a little sense of well, maybe I am supposed to be here.”