Navigating the workplace network

This is a personal reflection on my journey, a testament to resilience, and a call to dismantle the toxicity that plagues our workplaces.

IN the vast tapestry of working experiences, some threads carry weight that cannot be easily unravelled. As a powerful black woman, I have encountered many obstacles in my professional path, but none as poignant and challenging as working alongside toxic male colleagues deeply entrenched in patriarchal thinking.

This is a personal reflection on my journey, a testament to resilience, and a call to dismantle the toxicity that plagues our workplaces.

A tale of resilience unveiled

Close your eyes and envision a room adorned with dreams, hopes, and endless possibilities. The air crackles with an electric energy, as we gather for a pivotal brainstorming session.

Armed with unwavering passion and an unyielding spirit, I stepped forward, eager to interweave my voice into the tapestry of transformation.

However, the instant my words took flight, they encountered disdainful gazes and scornful smirks. The very essence of respect and collaboration began to unravel before my eyes.

How could humanity stoop so low? Was it my tendency to delve deep into thoughts or the harsh realities that expose the dark facets of people's souls?

We are all human, driven by the desire to safeguard our loved ones. How can one look upon me and unleash such painful, cutting words? Yes, the boardroom has long been known as a battlefield for the courageous, but this is 2024, for heaven's sake!

The sheer weight of participating in such petty politics left me utterly drained. I incessantly questioned what it was about my existence that provoked such resistance.

Admittedly, I possess a propensity for challenging the status quo, but this level of animosity surpassed comprehension, even for a resilient soul like mine.

In moments of serene contemplation, as I shared my experiences with fellow women, a profound revelation washed over me like a tender wave caressing the shore.

They, too, had walked a parallel path, encountering the harsh, jagged rocks of a patriarchal world. Some had even weathered the tempest of sexual harassment, their stories echoing with anguish, frustration, and unwavering fortitude.

Amidst these conversations, I witnessed the indomitable strength that coursed through these women—their unyielding spirit and their resolute determination to navigate hostile territories.

How could it be that some men chose to be callous, dismissive, and belittling? Yet, amidst the tapestry of their narratives, a flicker of hope emerged.

For in these women, I beheld the immense power of choice—the choice to transcend the toxicity, to reclaim their intrinsic value, and to demand the reverence they deserve.

It serves as a poignant reminder that men, too, possess the capacity to choose a higher path, to cast aside the chains of patriarchy, and to fashion a world where equality and dignity intertwine harmoniously.


Weaving the fabric of solidarity: My working experience here in Zimbabwe and beyond has illuminated the transformative power of solidarity among women. In the face of patriarchal attitudes that have long plagued our workplaces, finding solace and support in like-minded individuals has been vital to my resilience. Through the bonds forged, we have created alliances, shared our experiences, and amplified each other's voices. Together, we navigate the intricate maze of a patriarchal workplace, knowing that our unity is a force to be reckoned with.

Reclaiming my narrative:It has been a relentless pursuit to reclaim our narratives from the clutches of patriarchal stereotypes. I have learned to wholeheartedly embrace my unique strengths, contributions, and perspectives. With unwavering confidence, I have fearlessly showcased my expertise, challenging the deeply ingrained stereotypes that have confined us for far too long. Each step I take in rewriting the narrative serves as a reminder to others that strength and resilience transcend gender and race, igniting a spark of possibility for a more equitable future.

The power of education: In this journey of empowerment, education has become my most formidable weapon against ignorance and bias. Both education in and outside the classrooms. Deeply immersed in feminist literature, attending workshops, and engaging in critical conversations, I have armed myself with knowledge. It is this knowledge that has emboldened me, providing the courage to challenge patriarchal norms, educate my colleagues, and foster a truly inclusive work environment. Oh, the irony is not lost on me as I engage in this battle of ideas, for some of these colleagues, who perpetuate the patriarchy, are self-proclaimed professors of philosophy and education. The absurdity of their learned ignorance is not lost on me, and it fuels my determination to dismantle their flawed beliefs.

Forging alliances beyond gender: Recognising that true change requires allies, I have sought out open-minded colleagues in my career, both men and women, who share a vision of equality and inclusivity. Together, we have built bridges of understanding, empathy, and collaboration.


My journey as a black woman navigating a patriarchal workplace has been a mixed bag of triumphs and tribulations.

Through it all, I have learned that by remaining steadfast in my convictions, embracing solidarity, reclaiming my narrative, educating others, and forging alliances, we can begin to mend the fabric of our workplaces.  Together, we can create a future where the toxic threads of patriarchy unravel, giving rise to an inclusive, empowering, and thriving environment for all. As we continue on this path, let us be the weavers of change, interlacing our stories of resilience, strength, and diversity into a tapestry that celebrates and uplifts every thread, every voice, and every person.

It is in unity and understanding that we can create a vibrant and harmonious workplace, free from the toxic grip of patriarchy.Until then, we are blessed to be a blessing (#B2BAB).

We were here, becoming better, making our mark, and leaving our footprint as we make the world a better place!

  • Chirenje writes in her capacity as a citizen of Zimbabwe. — Twitter: @graceruvimbo; facebook: Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje; instagram: @graceruvimbo; whatsApp:+263772719650

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