For minority professionals, finding success in corporate America often means significant compromising and lower wages than white colleagues. This is true for black women. Moreover, they also feel pressured to alter their voice, appearance, hair, and even personality daily in some corporate environments. If companies want to make workplaces work for women, they must do right by Black women. Thus, Black Female Employees’ Well-Being is very important. Recent data from the State of Black Women in Corporate America report by LeanIn.Org uncovers these realities via qualitative data and soundbites from black female professionals as well as other important findings.
- 54% Black women are often the “only” of their race in the room at work,
- 59% of Black women have never had an informal interaction with a senior leader, compared to 47% of white women,
- Black women are 3x more likely than white men and 2.5x more likely than white women to hear a coworker express surprise about their language skills or other abilities, and
- Black women self-reported that only 1 in 3 managers have checked in on them.
Rachel Cooke is the Deputy Director of Communications for LeanIn.Org. Cooke feels as though there is much more to unpack behind their most recent findings. Below is the outline of Cooke’s discussion with Christine Carter.
State of the black women employment in 2020
Black women are coping with the disproportionate impact of Covid-19, the emotional toll of racial violence, and existing microaggressions on top of childcare needs. Black women leaving the workplace is not just a choice of staying home but a result of complete burnout.
In addition to this, fewer black women in leadership positions will mean losing women of color across the board, as they are more likely to be sponsors to other women of color in the workplace.
In all of LeanIn.Org’s research on the state of women at work, we see the same general pattern:
-Women are having a worse experience at work than men.
-Women of color are having a worse experience than white women.
Imposter syndrome can play a significant factor in the sense of belonging for black women despite proving to be more motivated, ambitious, and even more educated than our counterparts.
Rarely are Black women allowed to show up as their full selves at work fully. More than half of black women are the “only” of their race in the room at work. This creates more feelings of being watched or judged on behalf of their entire race.
Nearly 60% of Black women have never had an informal interaction with a senior leader. Certainly, this creates barriers to advancement. These compounded factors point to a greater need for allyship and support.
Remote support from managers
Many Black women are facing unrealistic expectations and pushing themselves to keep up with the physical and mental demands. Black women are more likely than employees to feel uncomfortable talking with colleagues about the impact current events have on their community and their own grief and loss. Only 1 in 3 Black women have managers who have checked in on them.
These are times when we all need as much flexibility and understanding from our employers as possible. In addition, if your manager is invested in you and wants to work with you. Also, to make sure you can keep doing your job while managing all the new responsibilities and challenges of the time.
Microaggressions in the workplace
Black women want to step up and lead. They are making progress but their experience and education level are often overlooked. Too often, Black women’s achievements are attributed to external factors instead of hard work.
Black women are not being allowed to be too reserved or even opinionated in the workplace without being perceived as standoffish and angry if they are.
Advancement of Black women in the workplace
The challenges facing Black women are systemic. It’s time for corporations to take a different strategy. Most company’s diversity efforts are not intersectional and overlook Black women. We deserve more recruiting, mentorship, and sponsorship on all levels.
Employers should also foster a culture that values Black women by eliminating discriminatory behavior. It’s crucial that corporations invest in diversity and allyship training. More than just saying diversity matters, explain what positive, inclusive behavior actually looks like in practice.
Most importantly, LET BLACK WOMEN LEAD. Their insights and unique perspectives create a more inclusive culture and benefit the company overall.