Professional Gatekeeping: How to Push Past Power and Control for Optimal Success in Your Business by Dr. Janita Gilliam

Dr. Janita Gilliam is a wife, mother of two, and licensed speech-language pathologist for over 13 years. Dr. Gilliam owns a private practice called Jabber Talk Speech and Consulting, PLLC where she is committed to providing intervention services to underserved areas and marginalized populations. Dr. Gilliam believes that her gifts were given to be of service. She prides herself on volunteering locally with her church and professionally at both state and national speech associations. In her spare time she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband Will and daughters Layla and Nova.

In this life, we have “the haves and have-nots.” In any industry or setting there will always be a “gatekeeper” and those who enjoy “gatekeeping.” There are several types of gatekeeping and various ways to analyze gatekeeping. In some instances, individuals can view business gatekeeping as a way to help the employer or business cut costs or improve revenue streams so they can minimize acquired losses. 

However, here we explore the harmful connotations associated with gatekeeping in business and the workplace. Gatekeeping stifles growth for individuals, small businesses, the young entrepreneurs and ultimately is a strategy to limit one’s success and growth.

The Cambridge Dictionary describes gatekeeping as “The activity of trying to control who gets resources, power or opportunities and who does not.”  Merriam-Webster dictionary describes gatekeeping as “a person who controls access.” 

The one thing that remains the same for both definitions is the use of the word “control,” which brings us back to “the haves and have-nots.” In American culture, we thrive off socioeconomic status. When viewing wealthy versus poor, gatekeeping plays a significant role in one’s success based on necessary information that may be essential to “scale or move up the ladder.” So, we know that gatekeeping is real. It is often a weapon that’s used against marginalized individuals in many cases to keep certain groups oppressed.

 We know that many can go far with knowledge and access to information but are limited when details are intentionally withheld. Think about how easy and less time-consuming it would be to put together a small furniture item when you’re provided with instructions. Now imagine how long it would take you to finish putting together that same small furniture item when directions are intentionally withheld from you. Maybe you will eventually put together the item. Instead, you must work harder, and use critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Had the directions been provided initially, that would have propelled you to successful completion at a quicker rate. My friends, this is what gatekeeping looks like.

 So, what are we to do when we encounter this across professional and business sectors:

  1. Call out gatekeepers as it happens. 

  2. Question the integrity behind what the individual or organization is modeling and why they must control things through withholding.

  3. Read and conduct independent research. Don’t expect people to willingly provide you with information.

  4. See what information you can read and what shared experiences you can learn from others if possible.

  5. Find alternate ways to move around the “gate” by being authentic. 

  6. Capitalize on your strengths by finding the gaps in organizations and showing how your credentials, talent, and expertise can be implemented for success. 

Last, be reminded that “gatekeeping will never limit those who were never designed to stay behind the gate” – Dr. Jay. 

Learn more about Dr. Janita at Twitter: @jabbertalkshow

Instagram: @the_latetalkers_speechdoctor/ 


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