Black Women And Workplace Support

To be a Black woman in the corporate world, you likely have to spend a lot of time soldiering forth on your own...

By Ryan Velez

To be a Black woman in the corporate world, you likely have to spend a lot of time soldiering forth on your own, something that the women who have managed to make it know all too well. What they may not know is exactly how dire the situation is. Black Enterprise provides some worrying new data.

The data comes from According to Women in the Workplace 2017, a comprehensive study of gender issues in corporate America, and it shows that women of color face the most obstacles and receive the least support. The report, part of a partnership between Lean In and McKinsey & Co., says women of color have a “steeper path to leadership” and that things are “particularly difficult” for Black women.

This includes:

• 31% say managers advocate for them for an opportunity

• 35% say managers give them stretch assignments

• 36% say managers provide advice to help them advance

• 23% say managers help them navigate organizational politics

• 28% say managers defend them or their work

These numbers are the lowest across the board compared to white, Asian, and Latina women. Black women are also the most likely to report not having any senior level contact. The study found the rate of promotion for Black women is 4.9%, compared with 5.8% for Asian women, 6.0% for Hispanic women, and 7.4% for white women.

Women of color are the most underrepresented group in the pipeline. They make up 19% of the U.S. population but just 6% of vice presidents, 4% of senior vice presidents, and 3% of C-suite roles. Even when they do make it, there is no guarantee of staying there. Black women have the highest rate of reduction in workforce, primarily due to resignations.

Black women in the workplace may not necessarily know the raw data, but they do know that the deck is stacked against them. Only 48% believe they have equal opportunity for growth as their peers. Just 34% feel promotions are based on fair and objective criteria. And even fewer, 29%, agree the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees. Again, those numbers are—across the board—lower than Latina, Asian, and white women. Interestingly, this may be why many black women are less likely to see becoming a top executive as their final career goal, versus one day setting out on their own via entrepreneurship.