The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspective, and a way to build connection to each other. To learn more about the “I Belong” Series or to submit your stories, associates can visit PetSmart's Belonging Fetch Page.
Meet our Black History Month Associate Spotlight | Anonymous
How would it feel:
To walk into a room and see no one who looks like you
To be asked your opinion on an initiative that doesn’t represent you
To know that you represent all voices from your community when asked your opinion
To constantly educate around your favorite shows, food, and traditions because no one around you shares your experience
I have always been the only Black person for most of my career, so know my experience is not exclusive to PetSmart. Each time I started at a company; I formed a pit in the bottom of my stomach as I anticipated the sheer amount of emotional labor expected of me as the only Black person on my team.
The weight of societal pressures at work keeps me on such high alert that I am spent by the end of my day. All-day, I codeswitch — a term used to describe what people of color do when they leave their cultural language, style, or demeanor to better fit in with their white counterparts. It is stressful and sometimes anxiety-inducing.
At PetSmart, it’s slightly different, and I’m proud of PetSmart for taking much of that weight off me. I feel more seen here than I have at any other company. PetSmart seems to be committed to centering all different walks of life and having honest conversations about opportunities to do better.
With that said, as still the only Black person on my team, I remind you that we have sooo much more work to do. And what is not often said is that it is not our responsibility to teach our company and leaders how to show up for inclusion. Belonging work matters, but it cannot exist without support from everyone. Nor can it rest on people of color. So, I kindly suggest:
If you are a leader:
Reach out to your associates of color. Meet with them and listen to how they can help your organization, and to what they need personally and professionally from you and other leaders.
Do your research to become more informed on Black history. Think about what discriminations or biases might be occurring at work and in the performance process. Promote associates of color just as much as you would promote a White coworker. When having impactful conversations that impact development and opportunities, make sure associates of color are present in the room, and listened to.
If you are a coworker:
Speak up when you don’t see a Black person present in the room for important conversations. Voice your opinion when you notice internal initiatives lack diversity and inclusion.
Take the initiative to learn about racism and racial inequality in the workplace. Stay curious about Black history and Black culture and ask questions if you’re genuinely interested in being informed.
Thank you for the progress made and thank you for honoring me on this very special month and beyond.