Episode 42: How To Ask for a Raise, Address Microaggressions and Prioritize Your Mental Health in the Workplace

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

This episode is for all of our corporate baddies out there. What if I told you that you can play the game, enjoy it and win? Would you believe me? Well, our guest today says it is, in fact, possible. Jasmine Wideman is a Human Resources Executive in the music industry who explains how to be more strategic in your career. 

Jasmine, thank you so much for joining us today and really pulling back the curtain on how we can all better navigate these corporate streets.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Yes, we are here.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

We are here. And I just wanted to start with when we met just a few months ago. I distinctly remember when everybody kind of said their name and folks were like, oh, she is so strategic. She is the one. She has a strategy. That’s how you were described. So let folks understand really why that is your superpower. How you’ve been able to really navigate corporate environments in such a healthy way?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Yeah, I would say I think what makes me so unique is I do things very quietly. I lead from out front, but I navigate it very intentionally, very quietly and very strategic. You use that word, very strategic. And so with that being said, my experience being in corporate America, let’s just say it’s been an amazing experience. When we think of corporate America, it’s really what runs our ecosystem of this country, full stop. And so it is something that if you decide that I want to be a part of this ecosystem, I am going to have to understand the nuances of this space. There are some people who determine and decide, yeah, this ain’t for me, and that’s okay. But for someone like me who has decided this is actually a game that I want to be a part of, I have made a conscious decision that you got to learn the game.

It’s similar to football. If you want to be a star quarterback, you have to learn the game, and you have to be able to execute in order to be a quarterback. Right. It’s the role that leads. It’s the role that shepherds the team. It’s the role that is really orchestrating the plays. And so if I had to describe myself, I would probably consider myself a quarterback, if we’re using the analogy of football.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

What mistakes do you think people are making when they’re coming into this game? How are they playing the game wrong?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

So I would say that when we think of corporate America, there’s always going to be a brand tied to an organization. I think where people make the mistake is when they are not aligned to that brand or they don’t agree with that brand, or they would decide, I want to run this brand differently. What I always tell people is, if those are your sentiments, then maybe being an entrepreneur is something that you should discover. And so that’s where I think that the rubber tends to hit the road, is when people’s personal value systems don’t align to the value systems of a brand and or aka of a company.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

What should we look for when we’re looking at companies to work for? I think that sometimes maybe the salary or the position is attractive. But beyond that, in terms of the ethos of the company, in terms of what they stand for, how do we look to see if we will be a better fit so that we can have a better experience there?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

You got to look at the value system. What does this company value? What are the behaviors? What’s the employee value proposition? What are those competencies within the interview process that they’re requesting that you demonstrate on a daily basis when you come into this building? What’s their mission statement? What’s their value statement? What’s their commitment to DE&I? What are those actionable initiatives that you have seen the company execute or that they have been able to clearly articulate with you that they’ve executed? Those are all things you want to dive into. Leadership, the executive leadership team, what’s the representation look like? Understanding that, doing your research, getting an idea of the leader’s background within the organization, how long they’re staying with the company, where they’re coming from, who the company is attracting, those are things that you want to get underneath. What I would say is net-tnet, the compensation and the benefits. That’s the package. Right. When you get to a certain point in your career, it’s kind of given you’re going to be within a certain range. So that’s something you can expect that’s there.

What we have to, I think, dive into deeper is that value system. What does the organization stand for? What’s their commitment? If you think back to 2020, it was a trying time for organizations. We experienced the COVID and shifts there, but we also experienced the wake of George Floyd. Right. So organizations were having to really stand up and share with various audiences, whether it was candidates, employees, leadership, stakeholders, board of directors, what their commitment was going to be to diversity, equity and inclusion. And I think those are the things that people really want to pay attention to as it pertains to why should I join this organization? Why would I join this organization and how would what I could bring add value into some of the initiatives that they are committed to and working on?

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

So we see that with 2020, a lot of declarations were made or saying this is who we are. But now when their assessments are done, now three years later, some of those statements were not followed through in terms of the commitments. And now DE&I is being challenged legally. What questions can people ask then on those job interviews? Are there some key questions to really get at what this company is really about, what they truly value?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

It’s going to be important to understand what has been executed. And so really asking, if you’re interviewing, asking the hiring manager, asking talent acquisition teams what has been executed as it relates to the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives is going to be most important. I think that that’s how you disseminate between organizations who are just saying some really nice to have things versus those organizations who really are about that commitment. And I think those companies who are truly about that commitment, we actually see those shifts and changes and we see them executing in that space.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. So in trying to contribute to this kind of larger goal, can you bring your full self? I know they say you can, Jasmine, but can you for real bring your full self? And what does that look like?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

What does bringing my full self somewhere mean? And I would challenge one to really ask, do we ever really always bring our full selves into a room, no matter what type of room it is, whether it’s a corporate room, if it’s an event you’re invited to, if it’s a conference, if it’s anything, do we really always bring our full self? So I think we have to pause there and assess and clarify what does bringing your full self somewhere mean? And on a normal day, do we always bring our full self? So with that being said, I think if we’re talking specifically about corporate America, do we bring our entire selves? Probably not. Probably not. The same way as I just mentioned, in some other spaces, we may not bring our full selves. So the way that I am with girlfriends on a Friday evening at dinner is not probably going to be the same way that I show up at 10:00 on a Monday morning or Tuesday morning.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Right?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Is it appropriate to be the same way? Right. I would say, also, given the industry that I work in being entertainment, the type of culture that my organization has built naturally allows more of that, which is incredible. Our brand, who we cater to, really spans across everything. When you think of what’s encompassed within kind of DE&I. So it spans across everything, end to end. And so with that, I would personally say I do have the opportunity to bring more of myself to work.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

So we were talking about it before in preparation for this. What can HR not do? I had somebody I mentored who was having problems, and she felt like she was being targeted by her boss, and then she automatically went to HR for microaggressions and stuff, and I was like, oh, my God, do not go to HR unless a law is being broken. Like, really, what are you supposed to go to HR for? What are you not supposed to go to HR for?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

I would say if there is someone that you know or an employee who is having issues, they actually should start with a conversation, right. To understand what their support and resources could be to help shepherd them through whatever it is that they’re experiencing. It’s also really good, though, to have mentorship within organizations at the leadership level, because if there are things that people are experiencing, there could be a more senior individual within the company who could also help provide guidance and support some of what you may be facing. So mentorship is so important, and connecting yourself to individuals that you trust within a company is also very important. Look, going to HR, you could be partnering on learning your benefits. So let’s say you have a lot of gen Z’ers who are tasked with having to repay loans if your loans weren’t forgiven. And you may want to explore your options and benefits the company offers for loan repayment. You may be family planning and not really know where to start.

You could go to HR to learn more about what your family planning options are and what the company will support you on or around. So I do think that there are a lot of positive interactions that could happen with an HR department and support that one could gain by kind of opening that door.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

And so I do want to ask about microaggressions. It’s something that’s often coming up in conversation. What is the best way to deal with these microaggressions, and when does it get to a level where you have to escalate it?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

If you as an employee are making a complaint, microaggressions could be something very challenging to prove, if you will. Look, I think organizations have values and behaviors because there are things that we desire all of our employees to kind of live into. And for example, I’ll use collaboration. A lot of times when we experience microaggressions, it comes in the form of lack of collaboration. Right. So you think of what happens within those spaces. Oh, this person didn’t respond to my email or they didn’t want to add me to a project or an email, and they know I do the work.

Right. Those are all microaggressions that tend to come and that make it kind of difficult. I would say finding the competency that kind of matches what you’re experiencing is important because then you’d be able to go to that individual, or if it’s something that you’re having a conversation with a manager or supervisor with, you would be able to know, Jane Doe isn’t collaborating with me, and I really desire to collaborate because I’m actually the key stakeholder on the project or this or that. And so you would be able to kind of use collaboration as your foundation. Microaggressions are actually the behavior, but we’ve got to get underneath that a little bit. And if you’re navigating through to get to a solution, it’s important to identify what the behavior is that the person is exhibiting. So if it’s a lack of collaboration, identifying that the person is not collaborating. Look, we know that those other subtle things kind of come as a result of it.

But again, if we’re getting and trying to get to solutioning, identifying what it is that’s happening and what kind of bucket that’s in, that is going to be so important so that there can be a conversation around what good collaboration looks like, how we should be collaborating in this space, and then what’s kind of our go forward moving from there.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Oh, that’s really very good terminology. Right. And that’s probably going to be more accepted and not seem as combative if you’re saying someone is not collaborating versus the microaggression.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

And look, I know that the term microaggressions exist. It’s out there. We know what it is. Right. It’s the behavior that is subtle and that tends to occur sometimes with certain groups of people. But how is that going to get us to a solution? How is that going to get us to identify ways of actually shifting how we work? It’s not. We have got to identify, okay, what is it that’s not happening? And I just use collaboration as an example. Right.

So that is where you want to kind of hone in that is still playing nice in the sandbox, if you will, and exhibiting some of those values within an organization that allows you to challenge and say, hey, you’re not really collaborating with me. And here’s kind of what I’m seeing, and here’s what I hope to see and hope that we can establish these ground rules or guidelines moving forward. Or if something’s not working for you, can you let me know that? And I can pivot and shift, and these things may not be working with me. And here’s what we agree upon and will align that we will do moving forward to establish better collaboration. And those are the ways in which we want to approach microaggressions.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

When should it be escalated? When is the point where it should be escalated?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

I think when it becomes a hindrance to you being able to do your work. So, for example, I gave the analogy if someone is keeping you off emails to a key project and you’re the project lead or stakeholder on the project and it’s hindering you from getting information or doing the work, completing the work, meeting deadlines, et cetera, that should be a point of escalation because now it’s actually impacting your performance and we don’t want to get into circumstances where other people’s behaviors are impacting your ability to perform, and that’s where it could become an issue.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Oh, that’s so good. Do you think that people are too emotional about their careers and that clouds their ability to be strategic?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Of course. It’s all personal. Right. A lot of times people show up and know that they bring certain skills and know that they’re able to create certain impact within an organization. And so it’s personal. Of course we carry our personal stuff into this corporate capacity.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

How can we make sure that it doesn’t blind us, though, to the strategy?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

I think it’s just that everything can’t be taken personal. You have got to identify when you are actually being personally attacked, whether it’s your work, your character, et cetera, within a company versus when we actually are pivoting, because this is best for the business. So your ideas may have been great, right. And we value those, but we’re not going to be able to use your ideas because actually going this direction is going to be best for the business. Those are examples where you can’t actually take it personal. It’s not a slight against the work that you did, but it’s actually that this is going to be best for the business.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

That always leads. Every single decision is what is best for the business. Not who’s been there the longest, not who everybody likes.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

It’s what’s best for the business.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

The business, yes.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

And you tend to remove some of that emotion when you have that on the forefront because you can sit in a room and give 100 ideas and zero are used. So if you have it in your mind and top of mind all the time, that, again, our greater goal is the brand and the business, and we have to do what’s best for that greater goal and not what’s personal. I think that that would help us to get to a less emotional state when we are working and collaborating in corporate capacities.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Another thing that Covid did was really change the conversations that we’re having about mental health. I actually was just in a mentoring session where they were asking people if they feel comfortable taking the time off that they need. How can people navigate where they’re just like, maybe not doing so well? What do they need to do to really kind of take the time that they need, especially when they’re having some mental health challenges or just stress?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Yes. So that is a very loaded question because it has not always been cultural for us to have conversations about mental health. And what I mean is social norms. Mental health has more recently become a topic of conversation and really understanding how mental health is connected to our daily actions. Right. I think that if we look at corporate America and best practices in the past and we look at generations, so if we were to take the baby boomer generation, you would probably, if you were to do an interview, you would have people say, oh, I’ve never taken a sick day in my entire career. I’ve never taken a day off and called off ever. Things like that, that you tend to hear.

You take Gen Zers and you interview them and you have a conversation. And mental health and work life harmony is at the core of their value system. They don’t think twice about taking the time that they need to reset, refresh and regroup. Right. And even if that I just need a mental health day. So I think generationally we have gotten to a place where it is encouraged to take time off. You have a lot of companies moving from predetermined time away from the office to now establishing flexible time off. You take the time off when you need it.

We, as an organization, we don’t want to dictate when it is that you take your time, whether it’s for mental health, religious reasons, family reasons, children showing up and being present with your kids, whatever it is, we’re not going to determine that. But it’s important for you to take the time that you need. So you’re seeing more of that. I think I want to shift it a little bit to talk about us as women and us specifically as Black women, because that is the identity that we hold, you and I. We have historically, I think, not wanted to be seen as weak. Right.

It’s probably something that you think about. We’ve had conversations about not being there, not being a team player, not showing up in our mind, that’s less than right. We don’t want to disappoint. We don’t want to be that person that doesn’t show up. And in turn, we have neglected ourselves. When there have been moments where we’ve truly, really needed just a day, time away. We have put all of that aside and said, okay, I can’t think about myself because I don’t want to disappoint my team. I don’t want to disappoint my company and I need to show up. Everything behind us may be burning to shreds, but we are going to show up because we don’t want to disappoint and we don’t want to be that person, and we don’t want to be seen as weak. That said, I think that narrative is shifting.

And when I have conversations, I’ve kind of gone through this epiphany myself where I realize I actually don’t desire to hold that, I’ll say stigma, as being a strong Black woman. I’m not here for that.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Right. Neither am I.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

That is something I do not desire to be the strong Black woman. Someone else can have that title. I don’t want it. I want to be the woman that takes a day when I need it. I want to be the woman that’s vulnerable enough to say, I’m really not feeling it today. It’s been a lot. I need someone to create space for me to share that and for someone else to pour into me. I want to be the woman that can raise my hand and say, well, actually, I’m at capacity. I can’t take any more on my plate at this current time. I want to be the woman that says, well, actually, I need a week away from work to go back and see about my family and make sure that they’re good and have that family time and have them pour into me. That narrative is what I desire to build. And actually, to be honest, what I have been building. The strong Black woman stuff that is systemically perpetuating a narrative and a story that I don’t desire to be a part of.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Yeah. And it’s unsustainable. And you set a standard that people will then hold you to, and then it’s harder to create space from that because you’ve said, this is how you always are. And so that causes friction, too. When you just want to say, I don’t want to be this way anymore, then people are like, well, what’s going on? Stuff like that. Don’t be that. Yeah, we’re not doing that anymore. It’s like, help me. I need help. That’s really good. And I think that distinction is really necessary. 

I was just in this group when they were talking about asking for a raise. Is there a good way to ask for a raise?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Yeah. So it’s interesting. I remember the first time I advocated for myself and pitched a role and requested an increase. I was mortified. Why? Because we’ve always been told, you better just be lucky to have a job and keep your head down and do the best you can do. So advocacy was not a part of the narrative that we were given.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Right.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

And so with that being said, I remember doing that. I was terrified because I’m like, who am I to be doing this? That was many years ago, right? What I always tell people is, no one is going to have the urgency that you have for yourself. No one is going to advocate for yourself the way you stand up and advocate for yourself. With that being said, if there are gaps in your pay that you see, if there are projects, contributions, value add that you’ve seen, and you want to pitch that and say, hey, I’ve done all these great things. I have made this and this impact for the company. Obviously, it’s important to frame it out. You can’t just walk in and say, hey, give me a raise. You want to show the value add that you’ve had to the organization and thus why you should be compensated for it.

Do your research. Do your research. Do your research. If you are already very competitively compensated or a highly compensated individual, you may want to think about some of that. If there’s room and you know that there’s room for you to grow more in your role, now may be the time and opportunity for you to say, hey, I’ve done these really good things, and I see that I’m here within my comp range and I’m requesting x increase when we come up on annual planning. Those are things that you should feel comfortable doing and knowing what you’re bringing to the organization and the impact that you’re creating and the value add that you have, you should absolutely be doing. So. I would say relinquish the fear.

Do your research, put together some sort of framework on why you should be compensated more and have the conversation. The worst thing you can be told in a circumstance like that is no. And if no is the only thing that someone will tell me, I’ll take it.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

You’ll take that chance to ask. Advocate for your 100%. And how important is the job title? I think oftentimes people talk about how much money they’re making and not as much emphasis on the title that they have, especially when you’re thinking about your career more broadly, being able to navigate not just where you are right now, but where you want to go.

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Yeah, look, titles will shift based on the organization that you are in. There are some organizations that have very inflated titles. And there are some organizations where you may be at a lower title, but you may be doing work that has a massive impact on the organization. So it comes down to, you have to have a good pulse on the work that you’ve done. What you’ve accomplished, you should be documenting it somewhere. You should have a little handy spreadsheet word document where you’re documenting the contributions that you’ve made to the organization and be able to effectively articulate those things. And if you are going for a new role, you could be able to say, yeah, this is my title at this organization, but this is the work that I’ve done, and that really needs to be the focal point. What have you done? What have you executed?

 

ACT Up Segment:

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

What kind of advice do you have to people who are looking to maybe get a new job, ask for a raise? They just want to level up in the new year. What are some things that they could do that can get them to where they want to be?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

What I would say first is you always have to take a step back and assess where you are in your current state. I feel like that is so important. And once you’ve assessed where you are currently and you establish those goals around where you desire to go and those desires, then you kind of make your next move. So for someone it could be wow, I’m in my current role. I love what I do. I’m not looking to go somewhere. Okay. That could actually mean that there’s areas that you need to upskill in, and you need to identify some areas that you want to upskill in.

That could mean that there are things that you desire to do outside of work that are still professionally related, but they’re not necessarily related to your day to day work. Right. And then I think the third bucket is you have those individuals that they’re like, yeah, I’m done. I need that next best thing. And so for that person, I would say the same thing. You have to take a step back and assess what’s going well or what did go well in the role that you’re in and what did not go well. And what is it that you desire for that next step that you are about to walk into? You really have to take that moment to self assess before you go to market. I would say the other thing, once you’ve done that self assessment is you’ve got to assess your brand and where you are with that.

What is my brand? What’s my elevator pitch? What have I accomplished in my current role? What am I going to share with that new employer that I may be seeking out? Right. All of those things are going to be very important to how you show up in the market. Obviously, we didn’t talk too much about post pandemic, but that is a whole conversation in and of itself. But given some uncertainties within the economy and things of that nature, it’s drawing people to stay put. So a lot more people are kind of in a position where they’re like, I’m going to kind of stay where I am currently. I’m not going to move because of the uncertainty. So we have that group of individuals as well. Right.

So I would say my advice for those individuals that are looking, you have to really take a deep dive and assess where you currently are, really roadmap that out, and then determine what is next for you at this given time.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

What do you think the job outlook will be at the top of the year? Do you think that companies are hiring? Do you think that they’re, because we’re seeing a lot of people still being laid off. Are there certain sectors that you’re seeing where there’s more movement?

 

Jasmine Wideman, Human Resources Executive

Yeah, I definitely think organizations are still hiring. I see it all the time. People are joining companies. That is happening. We have to understand that our economy and what happens in the world drives a lot of what happens internally to organizations. We have an election that is going to drive a lot of what people decide to do in this next year. We have to see where some of that’s going to net out. And then I think once it simmers down a little bit there, people may be more inclined, or maybe even more so not inclined to make a shift in their current career and in the roles that they’re currently in.

 

Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Host

Thank you so much. This is so great. Thank you so much for being here. 

 

Stay In Touch With Jasmine:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/im_jasmine1908/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasminewideman/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@jasminewideman




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