Black Professionals Aren’t Quietly Quitting; They’re Setting Boundaries

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Contrary to popular belief, quiet quitting doesn’t inherently involve employees putting in their two weeks. It describes employees who refrain from responsibilities outside of their job description. The term’s rise in the workforce emerged as a response to employees’ steps to establish boundaries to avoid burnout. 

Among the calls for diversity and equity in the workforce is the need for companies to create cultures where their teams feel valued and appreciated. Without these efforts, corporate leaders risk lacklustre retention, especially Black professionals. While some employees resign for many reasons, lack of appreciation ranks high. The need to feel seen, heard, and valued is an intrinsic human emotional need, and recent data indicates employees simply aren’t getting enough of it.  

Far too many employees exert extra efforts that go unrecognised. This becomes more extreme with Black professionals, who historically earn less, receive fewer opportunities for advancement, and face many obstacles rooted in prejudice and racism.

The problems start at the top

Executive offices create cultures encouraging workers to do their best and buy into the company’s overall success. The better the business, the more employees can benefit, even if this benefit is solely for the employer. At best, employees experience higher morale and an easier work environment. 

Companies have grown to expect Black employees, specifically, to perform duties outside their work’s scope. This can, in part, be attributed to how overqualified these professionals are. The harmful yet globally shared experience of having to “work twice as hard” to receive any benefit is a dated concept that, unfortunately, resonates with many Black professionals.  

Companies’ benefits are not mutually beneficial

The needs of the business can feel selfish, putting employees’ mental health, family obligations, and other personal needs on the back burner. It is more important for the wheels on big business machines to keep rolling—no matter who is employed or how they truly feel about their work-life balance. 

This corporate-centric notion seeps into leadership where management can become sterile in their operations or simply not willing to make human connections with Black employees, who, at face value, they have less in common with. This disconnection often derails interpersonal progress. Forty-three percent of Black executives have had colleagues use racially insensitive language in their presence. Systematic biases prevent connecting outside of work and disassociating the person from their corporate talent.

Actionable items that enforce progress

The real benefits include an overflow of raises or annual upward mobility within leadership. Employers can also set boundaries that properly outline expectations for all staff. When job duties are agreed upon and intentionally administered, businesses can readily recognise if they are taking advantage of employees and make better efforts not to do so. Corporations can also be proactive by taking the BYP’s Black Experience Course. Here, they gain the ability to surpass awareness and truly cultivate a diverse and inclusive workspace.

Black professionals are also asserting boundaries on their end. In addition to the commonalities of the workplace, the stresses of the global pandemic and the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement push professionals to opt for softer lives and varying sources of income. 

These options allow employees to do only assigned tasks, close their laptops at 5 p.m, and spend more time with family. Otherwise known as quiet quitting.

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