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Opinion Editorials

The business case for checking your privilege at the door

(EDITORIAL) More and more, individuals are writing their privilege into their success narratives. And that’s a good thing.

working millennial privilege

Beyond hard work and talent

It’s so tempting for me to say my professional successes have solely been the hard won result of my work ethic, enthusiasm, and ambition. I have now worked in the tech industry for little over a year, after recently receiving an MFA in Creative Writing. What I thought would be a stretch, or at the least an odd combination, turned out to make me an increasingly desirable tech candidate in our data-driven world.


Check your privilege

In part, my successes have indeed been due to that hard work. However, what I tend not to discuss openly with colleagues and peers is that it has been a luxury for me to take risks with my education and career. An MFA isn’t exactly lucrative, what with academic jobs all but completely disappearing, and who could have foreseen the rise of the tech-poet? The luxury of choice exists within my genetics, and with the luck of being born into a middle class family.

More and more, individuals are writing their privilege (defined by Gemma Germain in this article as: “a murky by-product of genetics, parentage and geography”) into their success narratives. I believe personal ownership of stories we tell about where we come from, who we are, and how we work, combined with transparency about our privilege can only benefit us all.

Adding transparency to your narrative

If those of us benefiting from certain privileges, whatever they may be, can begin to openly discuss how these elements have been potentially key to our successes, then we can also start dissecting the unintentional biases that have, in turn, prevented the voices of others from even entering the conversation.

Workplace diversity can help us collectively make better, well-rounded decisions. Variety of voice leads to a much wider range of perspective, which can benefit services and products that seek to reach a number of distinct demographics.

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In addition to owning our privilege, actively working to make room for marginalized voices in all workspaces and decision making dialogues can heighten our professional and individual experiences.

While there is potentially discomfort in admitting to being in a position of some privilege, there certainly should be no guilt or mortification in it. The rewards of working together to build a strong, creative, unique communities should far outweigh the risks of honest conversation.


Caroline is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. She recently received her Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s College of California. She currently works as a writer as well as a Knowledge Manager for a startup in San Francisco.

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