Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unspoken Employment Rules

A young woman came to see me because she needed help. She was strikingly beautiful with nice dreadlocks. She could not keep a job. The last 2 jobs fired her.

She said her employer told her he just didn't need her. She said they used the at-will clause. I looked at her and said; "I think maybe it was because of your dreads. Dreads are beautiful and so were hers."

The problem: They were fire truck red. So red in fact, it looked like Santa Claus Red. She took a seat and asked me to teach her. To help her. I sat down and spent about an hour with her. She said no one ever told her that the color of your hair could cause you job problems. When we finished, I referred her to jobs. Very intelligent young woman.

The following week I scheduled a meeting with her and one of my workers. The worker was instructed to help her find another job and to do additional counseling with her. The worker called me.

"Guess what?!" She said.

"The young lady you sent to me showed up and I didn't know who she was."

"Why?" I asked.

"She dyed her hair back to its' original color- dark brown and she looked great!"

That made my heart smiled. You see when you are working with others you have to conformed to their rules, even when they are not written. Now if you have your own company you can dress as you please. There are many companies who do not have problems with braids, dreadlocks, or other styles. But when you go out of your way to be loud, and work against how the company wants its work force to be presented- that is when that at will firing clause sneak in. What I am most proud of was that she was open to change, and willing to go the extra mile to get what she wanted. Basically she is doing what she needs to do to survive in a world where differences are not always celebrated or appreciated.

That's growth!


chele said...

You are so right. I'm glad she took your advice.

Renita said...

AMEN!! Wonderful post!

kathi said...

You were a blessing to that young woman, good for you and THANK YOU. Watched a video over at another one of my blogger friends, Epsilonicus, and one of the best lines I got out of it is 'we're only as strong as our signal', and it meant a lot to me because as with a radio frequency, it's heard as far as it's signal will allow. Your signal was STRONG with this young woman.

BostonPobble said...

I think it's so sad that so many young people aren't taught these very basic job hunting (keeping) skills any more ~ and so glad there are people like you to teach them! It's tough when you're young, I think as well, because people want to say "this is who I am and if you don't like me, I won't work for you" without realizing the response is going to be "okay, thanks for stopping by." (Not that this was the situation with the young woman you wrote about; it obviously wasn't. It is, however, something I've seen happen far too frequently.) As we get older, we learn that playing the game, presenting the face the company wants, doesn't mean we are giving up who we are when we're off the clock. ;)

Belizegial said...

Good of you to take the time to help her :)

GC (God's Child) said...

good one! That shade of red is quite loud regardless of your hairstyle!

Deb S. said...

You taught this woman a wonderful lesson. God bless you!