Sisterhood Agenda

Being “Professional.” What Does It Mean?

Sisterhood Agenda Being Professional
Angela D. Coleman
Latest posts by Angela D. Coleman (see all)

Being professional means different things to different people.  Just ask them and you’ll see!

Not being professional?

How you work can be unique.  NOT “being professional” was often used as a way to put down or reduce the accomplishments of people marginalized in the workplace, including, but not limited to Black people, women, and especially Black women and women of color.

Literally, anything can be “unprofessional” which is why it is such a dangerous term. It has real political and economic power.

Your hairstyle, attire, tone, word choice, or anything else that is part of who you are and how you show up to serve can become professional, unprofessional, or something in-between.

Historically, if someone inside or outside of the company said that you were not professional, this label stuck.  Very non-specific, this term was an umbrella for companies to hide their racist and sexist ideology that you were not up to the task, that you were less than:  less accomplished, less valued, and a lesser employee, in general.  And it made it difficult to move forward.

“Not being professional” used to be a death sentence in terms of work advancement and even continuation of work.

So… not only are you last hired, first fired, working more hours, and being paid less money, but you also endure often daily challenges to your right to be employed at your place of business by facing undeserved scrutiny about your “professionalism.”  This is a stressful and precarious state to be in.  Good thing, it’s changing.

What’s changing

Currently, there is a career and work movement going on where CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, owners, and bosses look more like us.

This changes the intentions and the dynamics.

It is less about homogeny and less about managers hiring carbon copies of themselves.  Instead, it’s more about talent, skill, and getting it done.  Yes!  We are doing it differently.  More creative, inclusive, and rewarding for all of us.

How to Create a Healthy & Prosperous Home Office

Ten ways

Being professional is being a pro!  You are professional when you exhibit the following qualities and characteristics in the process of providing goods or services to others:

  1. You are effective.  You get it done well, on time and use all of your available resources efficiently.
  2. You are authentic.  You don’t fake it; you are genuinely helpful to make customers happy and the business better.
  3. You are honest.  You are real with a straightforward approach using facts and expressing your educated opinions.
  4. You value yourself and others.    You know what you bring to the table and appreciate the contributions of others, too.
  5. You are deliberate.   You plan your next steps because you know that failing to plan is a plan to fail.
  6. You are inspiring.  Your work style helps others work better, too.
  7. You are motivating.   You are capable of getting yourself and members of your team on task for common goals.
  8. You are achieving.  Your record of successful accomplishments speaks for itself.
  9. You are adaptable.   You navigate the peaks and valleys of market fluctuations, the pandemic, inflation, recession, whatever.
  10. You are innovative.  You think outside the box with creativity and new ideas.

In which ways are you an awesome professional?  Let us know below!


Photo credit:  Christina, Unsplash

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