On day two of the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, attendees got the chance to hear words of wisdom on how to overcome self doubt at a panel called “The Empress Has No Clothes: How to Conquer Self Doubt to Reach Your Full Potential.” Moderated by Joyce Roche, author and former Girls Inc. president and CEO, the seminar’s featured guest was Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, executive vice president and treasurer at Wal-Mart.
Babineaux-Fontenot shared her story of moving up the ranks at companies including law firm Adams & Reese, where she was leader of the firm’s tax practice and partner-in-charge of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana office, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she was responsible for state tax controversies for Southwest U.S. Throughout her educational and career advancement, she said she’d oftentimes be the only person of color, and she’d have to face and overcome issues of self-doubt in order to progress.
A key topic of the discussion was the concept of the imposter phenomenon, where experiences or negative triggers can affect one’s self-concept and self-esteem. Some of these triggers for women of color include being a minority in a majority environment, coming from a challenged socioeconomic background in terms of one’s experience growing up, and internalizing the perceptions and opinions of family, friends and colleagues—both negative and positive. Other triggers include workplace discrimination, ageism, the Corporate America glass ceiling and self-imposed limitations that live within one’s mind but may not reflect reality.
Attendees were encouraged to face their imposter experiences honestly, acknowledge their ‘imposter’ triggers and find a way to overcome them with courage and realistic self-evaluation, especially in terms of what’s internalized about strengths and weaknesses. Self-assessment of what one believes about their achievements, their worthiness and their abilities is key to overcome self-doubt and get beyond myths of self that may not reflect reality and may be detrimental to a woman’s growth in business leadership.