The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on minority communities. But if we’re honest, within the minority community, the burden has been unequally shouldered by women of color. Minority women have suffered the most financially during this pandemic with more than 900,000 unemployed because they have either stopped seeking employment due to lack of opportunity or because they have had to vacate the labor market to take care of their families. Many who continue in the workplace are also juggling the demands of caring for children and elderly parents. Quite frankly, women of color find themselves financially between a rock and a hard place. For them it’s not a recession, but a she-cession! So, what do you do and how can you manage?
Talk to family, friends and or even employers for help. Whether it’s in the form of childcare assistance, financial support or a flexible work schedule. In today’s work environment, employers are more willing and understanding about remote schedules, since all of us are affected in some way by this pandemic. Speak with your employer about how you can work differently. Initiate a conversation with your employer about the possibility of more flexible hours as you handle keeping track of your father’s at-home medical treatments and making sure your children attend their virtual school sessions and complete their assignments.
Although being out of work requires a firm tightening of your purse strings, as you examine your finances, rearrange your priorities, and make painful adjustments, try to avoid overly strict austerity budgeting. As dire as your situation might be, budget at least one discretionary item for yourself each month. Whether it’s splurging on a new shade of purple matte lipstick, signing up for a virtual dance class or indulging in a pumpkin spice latte, try to have at least one thing to look forward to each month. Depriving yourself of everything, will not help you reach your goals. I know this may sound crazy. But if you do, you’re only going to find yourself under more stress, anxiety, and emotional challenges. Find balance!
Rebuild Your Network
You may have a LinkedIn profile of 500+ connections but how many of these individuals know you well enough to be willing to recommend that you work at their company? Identify a few people that could be informative or influential in your job search. Take time to connect with them over a fifteen minute-phone call, a socially-distanced walk or a virtual afternoon tea. Your network is one of your most extremely valuable assets and leveraging your connections with former colleagues, women’s groups, college friends and relatives can lead to lucrative opportunities.
Avoid a Scarcity Mindset
In looking at the valuable people who surround you, don’t forget about you! Start from the perspective that you have value and what you do matters. Although it may be tempting to compare your present situation with other people’s apparent success and declare “woe is me,” try to have a different focus. Instead of saying, “I can’t afford what they have,” remind yourself that you have different priorities and you are working diligently to fulfill them.
Find New Opportunities
While your financial conundrums appear in the moment to be insurmountable, don’t let money, or the lack of it, overwhelm you. Schedule quiet time in the morning, before the daily grind begins, to jot down some of your best skills or gifts. Can they be monetized? Note, monetizing something doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself! Is there a new and improved or creative way of accomplishing some of your everyday tasks?
Count Your Blessings
Before you close your eyes each night, exhausted from a day of trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents, make a mental note, (or for more impact, a written list that you add to each day), of at least one thing that you are thankful for or have been blessed by each day. Maybe it was the sight of your toddler sleeping peacefully in her crib or the reassuring voice of an old friend who knows what you are going through and just called to check in. Perhaps it’s the good feeling of weariness in your arms after volunteering at a grocery distribution center, or the tickle on your toes as your new puppy tries to eat your socks even though your feet are still in them. Whatever your blessing is for you, take the time to cherish it.
Whether this she-cession finds you actively seeking work or struggling under work and a variety of other responsibilities, you can get through it. Investigate state and federal resources that may be available to you. Take advantage of faith-based programs within your community. And most importantly, take a closer look at you and your situation so that you can see the true value of your village, your experiences and the unique qualities, skills and personality traits that make you – You! It may surprise you to find that when you seek out silver linings, you can discover a wealth of hidden treasure.
Leslie A. Nettleford, Esq., co-author
Leslie A. Nettleford is a corporate attorney specializing in commercial real estate, intellectual property and nonprofit law. Her clients appreciate her creativity and fresh approach to problem-solving to arrive at the desired goal. Ms. Nettleford possesses proven leadership and management skills as well as the ability to teach, train and mentor. She has garnered a well-deserved reputation for meticulous attention to detail and for honesty and integrity in her interactions with colleagues and clients alike. Ms. Nettleford graduated cum laude from Washington Adventist University, and received her JD from Georgetown University Law Center.