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Productivity Without Privilege: How to Succeed When You’re Marginalized or Discriminated Against in the Workplace

“A stronger tactic, which I’ve personally used, is to call out bias when you experience it,” Ms. Tulshyan said. “Again, it only works in environments where you have the psychological safety — which, sadly, is rare for employees of color — but I’ve taken managers aside in the past and said, ‘I’ve noticed you volunteered me for this committee again, but not my white male colleagues. Could we talk about that?’” The same tactic works in reverse. If you notice that your privileged colleagues are the only ones sent to conferences or given the opportunity to discuss the work your team is doing, mention it to your manager.

Ms. Tulshyan also suggested that you look for ways to get credit for work you’re already doing if glamour opportunities are otherwise scarce. For example, before taking on something new, note to your manager that to be a team player, you’re doing the bulk of the office housework — work that no one else would do — and ask to have that considered the next time you talk about compensation.

When women and people of color are stereotypically viewed as loud, abrasive, brassy, or even threatening when they speak up, it’s natural to worry that you will, too. You don’t want your efforts to backfire.

Unfortunately, taking a more passive approach in professional settings allows the loudest person in the room to dominate, pretend (at best) or lie (at worst) about their importance, or assign themselves glamour work while leaving office housekeeping in the air for others. Social conditioning and privilege are to blame, but you’re not out of options.

It’s perhaps most important for marginalized employees, but it’s a good idea for any employee, to document accomplishments and challenges. Consider keeping a work diary. Note the opportunities you’ve been given and the ones you were denied. Regularly jot down what’s happened at work, how it made you feel, and what you’re working on (and how much time you spend on various projects).

Doing this not only gives you a way to get your thoughts out, it also helps you build a portfolio of professional wins and losses. That will come in handy when it’s time to update your résumé, or in future interviews when you’re asked about times when you’ve struggled or excelled.

Once you start your diary, you’ll have a clearer picture of your work life, and more important, the data to evaluate your feelings. You’ll also have useful information for one-on-one conversations with your manager.

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