The State of Black Women in Corporate America

The State of Black Women in Corporate America

Lean In, and McKinsey & Company have come together to create the largest study on Women in the Workplace.

One thing that came out of the study was confirmation that the workplace is worse for Black women. They offer the following barriers to why Black women are being held back:

Barriers for Black Women to Overcome:

  • Black women’s successes are often discounted – luck, random chance, affirmative action, help from others
  • Black women are less likely to get the support and access they need to advance, such as
    • How to navigate organizational politics
    • Flexibility to have balance in their work and personal life
    • Advocates for their participation in stretch assignments
    • Assistance with career path development
    • Opportunities to manage people and projects
    • Sponsorship needed to promote the advancement of their career
  • Black women are less likely to get access to senior leaders
  • Black women face more day-to-day discrimination at work
  • Black women are still isolated as they are the “only one” in the room, putting them under increased pressure and stress to perform
  • While employees aren’t stepping up as allies to Black women
  • Black Women are unfairly penalized for being ambitious – seen as aggressive and angry

Specific steps that companies should take:

  • Make Black women’s advancement a business priority to address the combination of racism and sexism
  • Set representative targets for Black women and share progress and reward success
  • Address bias in hiring and promotions
    • Require a diverse slate of candidates
    • Unconscious bias training
    • Clear and consistent review criteria
    • Anonymize resume and skill assignments for entry-level roles
    • Appoint a team of criteria monitors
  • Create an inclusive workplace
    • Conduct guidelines
    • Provide antiracism training
    • Take a close look at company and team norms

What suggestions do you have for companies, or what has your company put in place? We would love to hear your experience, both good and bad, on this topic.  Don’t forget to call out the companies that are making a difference.

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