Five Most Important Qualities of Successful Minority Workers

In spite of down-pulling discrimination, successful minorities thrive on these qualities.

Intelligence. Diligence. Passion.

Both in writings and reality, these keywords (plus more) are qualities of successful employees. The characteristics are must-haves and, indeed, universal. However, those attributes are not enough when it comes to the very peculiar case of minority workers.

The reason is simple and not far-fetched.

Minorities face the highest career challenges in various aspects of job opportunities, not to mention workplace bias, pay gap and a lot more. Indisputably, the rules of success are different in their own case.

For minority workers to keep their heads above water and rise through the ranks, it’s vital to cultivate additional, exceptional qualities. Let’s look at some qualities of the successful ones out there, which you need to start practicing right now.

1. Extraordinary self-motivation

You know that the the space is naturally down-pulling. Discrimination is witheringly dispiriting. So you wonder how the successful ones make it.

Successful minorities go far beyond optimism. They take bold actions. They keep showing up even in the face of constant rejection and failure. More so, they do not complain about how their boss or colleagues treat them nor blame anyone for particular situations and conditions. Rather, they maximize self-motivation to trigger the inner drive they need to push forward without giving up.

2. Tenacity

Motivation and tenacity work side-by-side. Whenever the former falls short, successful workers harness the latter to push their career forward. Even when it doesn’t, undaunted determination gives them the impetus to break more grounds at a handsome pace. Successful minority employees are not only motivated, they’re equally indefatigable.

3. Openness to change

Either they’re exploring new opportunities, new cultures, new skills, or entirely new career paths, successful minority workers know that change is critical to growth and development. Social or technological, they know that success in today’s era of globalization means the ability to embrace change and adapt to new trends of ideas, practices and approaches. They can be conservative. Yet they’re not pertinaciously resistant to progressive change.

4. Culture fit

Cultural fit has become a benchmark for success, and that involves both organizations and individuals. But turns out not-always-good for minorities. Reason: “Not a culture fit” is why too many talent within the minority bracket (black, female, old, young, non-degreed etc) are usually schemed out.

From the recruitment stage to the rest of their career, successful minority workers across industries ensure they’re a good culture fit. They mesh their skills and culture with their organization’s strategies and values.

5. Rectification of negative stereotypes

“Millennials are lazy and entitled.” “Women are inferior.” “Blacks are less-skilled.” Stereotypical beliefs of these kinds are ubiquitous career bumps confronting, or ahead of, every minority. Crucially, the successful ones know when and how to correct such negative stereotypes, and they do it quite appealingly.

By showcasing African values in a jaw-dropping way, Black Panther dispels the fallacy that black movies aren’t marketable and equally challenges the universal stereotype about Africa’s backwardness. That’s a general picture. At the individual level, successful minority workers don’t give in to stereotypes likewise. While they make headway, they ensure every stereotypical image is redefined.

You can wake up in life to find the tag “angry black woman” around your neck. No one really cares. But it’s your duty to throw off the “shackle” and scale the heights in life and career. These qualities are very crucial to that end.


Shakir Akorede is a writer, digital entrepreneur, agenda contributor to the World Economic Forum. He also writes for Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes Africa, etc. Akorede is a coach and consultant who help minorities overcome everyday challenges, and consult companies on how to create a workplace culture that fosters, embraces and rewards diversity. You can connect with him on Twitter