What Toni Morrison Taught Me About TRIBES

Toni Morrison Tribe.jpg

America recently lost one of its contemporary literary greats—Toni Morrison. If you've read her novels, you'll know that she explores deep issues associated with women's relationships with one another, with family, and with men. In the novel Sula, two adolescent girls form an intense bond of friendship. It's rock solid. It's mutually beneficial. It's integral to one another's happiness, and feelings of security and the girls maintain this relationship into adulthood. At one point, Sula betrays conventionality and, in doing so, betrays Nel in an irreparable manner. Ever since, critics have been trying to decide if the girls enjoyed real mutual support or not—if the female bond they formed was, indeed, beneficial for each.  

Real support. Real female-delivered support isn't just something women need and crave in their personal lives. We're spending 40 plus hours each week in the workplace—we need REAL support there too. What Morrison so poignantly highlighted was the necessity for authentically supportive relationships. As women, we've endured all sorts of female relationships—acquaintances, close friends, fake friends, best friends, childhood friends, workplace colleagues, workplace colleagues who become friends, mentors, and downright enemies. We understand how these various types of relationships affect our lives, our own behaviors, and our sense of self. To create a support system in the workplace, a tribe, if you will, we must evaluate the traits that provide authentic support—not inauthentic camaraderie—and the features that can and do undermine workplace support systems.  

In the coming weeks, we'll talk about why a workplace support system is essential for women, what a workplace support system should embody, and how to achieve this worthy system that can benefit women.