This month at The Forem, we had the immense pleasure of welcoming Dr. Chela White-Ramsey, Ph.D., to our team as a leader of our “Level Up” workshops.
She has incredible career insights that speak especially to women of color. We highly recommend soaking up her thoughts on imposter syndrome, allyship, and more below.
What is your mission, and how does it align with The Forem?
I often say: “I help people do the best work of their lives.”
Really, that means that I’m an advocate for people who work. And while I serve communities of underrepresented people across the board, I find that Black women face unique challenges on their professional development journeys, and as such, I’ve put an emphasis on supporting them.
The Forem’s commitment to advancing the careers of women and people of color aligns nicely with my personal mission as we’re all committed to making professional development equitable for everyone.
You’re doing an event with us soon on imposter syndrome. Without giving too much away: why is this an important topic to you? How do you think this affects women of color, and what is your best advice for overcoming it?
Understanding and navigating imposter syndrome is important for our career development, but it’s especially important for women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and people from historically underrepresented groups.
Ultimately, the imposter syndrome mindset limits our professional impact, and it’s rooted in fear.
When we believe the stories we tell ourselves about our imposter syndrome, we reinforce barriers in systems that were never created with us in mind (i.e., the corporate structure).
So, at the end of the day, fighting our own imposter syndrome isn’t just beneficial for our career development — it’s an act of resistance and radical self-care. That, in and of itself, is revolutionary.
What was one of your biggest career challenges? How did you handle it?
I made the decision to leave a company that I loved because my career wasn’t advancing at the pace that I thought it should be. My role was stagnant, and I had so much to offer, but there simply wasn’t an opportunity that aligned and my manager wasn’t able to offer me stretch assignments so that I could develop.
When I got an opportunity to go to another company, I was devastated at the idea of leaving. But I had a candid, transparent conversation with my manager who encouraged me to take the role. It was truly one of the hardest but best decisions I made.
Decision making can be challenging, but I navigated it by talking with people I trusted and getting clear on my values. It’s an approach I still use today.
What kind of support do you want to see from white allies in the workplace?
The other day, a manager from Indeed’s Product and Engineering team came to the Black Inclusion Group’s Slack channel to share a link to a role that they’re hiring for on her team. She strongly encouraged Black employees who were interested in transitioning over to tech to apply. I was impressed by the impact this made on the group.
By simply coming in and encouraging Black employees to apply for a role, she made it clear that she was an ally to the community and was willing to be intentional about giving all of us a fair shake.
She was intentional about encouraging employees from historically marginalized groups to apply.
Because she recognized that there is a significant disparity when it comes to employees from these groups applying for and working in tech roles.
She took an approach that wasn’t necessarily “equal,” but it was equitable. I’d love to see more white allies take an equitable approach to allyship.
It starts by understanding the different communities you support and what their unique needs are.
People struggle with that because they don’t want to isolate identities, but when we see and appreciate people for who they are, that’s when we can make lasting impacts.
What is one piece of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with the women of color reading this newsletter today?
I’d encourage all of the women of color reading to trust that their contribution is valuable and impactful. In the past, I’ve had trouble trusting in my contributions in part due to some self-doubt but mostly because of all the “-isms” (i.e., racism, sexism, etc) that reinforce my self-doubt. I had to learn to tune out as much of the noise as possible and trust that what I bring to the table is valuable.
Fun stuff: what is your “fun fact?” Or, do you have any book or film & tv recommendations for us?
Right now I’m reading Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic by Kenya Hunt. I’m loving it so far! It’s my book club pick for this month, and reading it almost feels like I’m having a conversation with a friend. I encourage folks to check it out.
Chela is a career coach and facilitator who proudly advocates for underrepresented groups, empowering people to develop professionally and personally. In her full-time role at Indeed, she manages Training and Development on the company’s Marketing team.
She has a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from Louisiana State University, and her interests are imposter syndrome and burnout. She’s particularly interested in helping Black women navigate limiting mindsets like perfectionism and people pleasing. A South Louisiana native, Chela “keeps it weird” in Austin, TX with her husband, Will and her pup, Teena Marie.