The State of Women of Color in the Workplace
I hope you had an amazing week. If not, that’s okay. If you’d like some reassurance that you are going to be more than okay click here for some positive affirmations.
I want to apologize. I feel I’ve gotten ahead of myself and want to regress a bit so that we
all have a solid foundation of what the Truly You is trying to respond to. I haven’t set the foundation for the conversations of inequalities that are to come. I am aware that for us women of color, we share a commonality of experienced in the workplace -- so much so that trying to quantitatively prove it is redundant. Yet, I think we really need to break down just how bad it is.
In 2017, Mckinsey & Company conducted a study on Women in The Workplace. The study consisted of 220 companies across the United States and responses were collected from 70,000 employee on how they experience workplace.
The research found that:
Differences in the success of men and women begin with early promotions which proved to be most challenging for women to attain.
Women don’t have the same access to senior leadership, sponsorship, mentorship opportunities which leaves women without the tools needed to accelerate within the company or hold their own.
Women have to advocate even more for promotions and negotiations when compared to their male colleagues; and when they do so they face issues of likability.
When put together, all of these factor create a very challenging environment for women -- there is small room for growth from the very beginning, a lack of mentorship opportunities, and unequal access to fair pay and recognition.
It goes without saying that the finding between white women and women of color were more quantitatively shocking. All of the findings listed above are true, but Women of Color experience them at higher rates. For instance, although women in general are more likely than men to report they never interact with senior leaders, black women are the most likely of all to report they never have senior-level contact… and yet: despite facing more pitfalls to advancement, women of color have higher ambitions to be a top executive than white women do. (McKinsey 2017) This part of the study is fascinating because it proves that women of color are the most ambitions and yet fall short on the promotion ladder. This itself disqualifies preconceived racist notions of an absent work ethic.
A study in 2012 by Catalyst found that women of color hold only 1% of Executive/ Senior Level positions.
The McKinsey 2017 study also revealed that because of the challenges in corporate America, women of color are more likely to branch out into creating their own businesses where they can have more autonomy of their success.
“Perhaps because of the challenges they face in the workplace, for example, black women are also the most interested in going out on their own. Compared with other groups of women, they’re significantly more likely to say they intend to start a business when they leave their current job.”
Overall, this is what the data shows when comparing with women in the workplace to women of color.
Black women rank last in nearly every perception of equity. Women of color, especially black women don’t experience support from managers, have a different understanding of the presence of equity, and are promoted less. It’s no wonder why many of us see it best to start our own thing. Black female-owned businesses are the fastest growing economic force in the U.S. The number of black women-owned businesses grew 67 percent between 2007 and 2012, outpacing the 27 percent growth rate for female-owned businesses, reports the U.S. Census Bureau.
This is also true for half the team of the Truly You -- both founders left their old positions within an education focused non-profit and created Truly You. I, the Editor, left my old position at a social justice urban planning agency and am now freelancing and teaching yoga.
If these are the finding, we need to make strides towards finding solutions. The first being acknowledging how far we have to go. If you’ve at all experienced any of these frustrations in the workplace please know that your experience is real and valid. It is not mind made up.
There are studies that proves your frustrations go beyond you but rather are a systemic issues impacting women of color across the country. If by 2020 the Asian women workforce is projected to increase by 9%, Black women by 24%, and Latinas by 28%. How can companies begin to tackle this problem. After all, we have been proven to be the most ambitious. Best believe we’re not shirking ourselves, not going anywhere.
How do you support women and men in the workplace and allow for a full life outside of the workplace.
Diversity prove that equity leads to financial gains -- they lead with transperance, target and goal, and openly talk about how thy’re perfoming,
WOC -- steep climb. WOC systemaically less represented, supported, and given less opporuntities.
WOC vs WHITE -- woc most abitious but leass likely to succeed. Black women less liekly to have meaningful relationship with senior level exec
Black women seeing challenges and havea steeper path to advancamnt but have an aknowldgement htat hye should create soemthing ont heir own (entrepeneruial)
Top performing company explicitly try to make sure sponsorship is happening and making it formal