Women of color have (at least) double the struggles when dealing with racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace and despite it all, we still rise to the top as bosses. It's why we have things like #EmpowerHer.
We've always known our strength in overcoming obstacles, but now we have a new study to reiterate it. Per The Undefeated, a recent study from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org entitled, "Women in the Workplace 2017" explored the lack of WOC representation in corporate America with the following tagline: "Getting to gender equality starts with realizing how far we have to go." The 2015 report predicted just how far we have to go to get there: 100 years.
The report packs a mean punch noting, "Women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for thirty years and counting.
“Women of color are the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline. They experience the greatest challenges. Yet they receive the least support — and efforts to increase diversity are not adequately addressing the magnitude of the issues they face,” said the report. “Compared to white women, things are worse for women of color, and they are particularly difficult for black women.”
The study consisted of a human resources survey of 222 companies and 70,000 employees, compiling data regarding gender and career issues. Lean In president Rachel Thomas touched on the executive level in 2017 noting, “1 in 5 C-level executives are women and, really sadly, 1 in 30 are women of color."
As far as advocacy goes, 31 percent of black women, 34 percent of Latina women and 40 percent of Asian women feel their managers have their back when it comes to career opportunities. That is compared to 41 percent white women. Only 29 percent of black women believe the opportunities go to people who deserve it, compared to 34 percent of Latina women and 40 percent of Asian and white women.
Despite all of those setbacks and proverbial glass ceilings, women of color trump white women in terms of entrepreneurial ambition. Thomas said, “women of color are more ambitious than white women on average, and that black women in particular, who are having a particularly challenging experience in the workplace, lean more entrepreneurial."
Former human resources professional and Black Career Women's Network founder Sherry Sims described women of color being overlooked for promotions as "the straw that broke the camel’s back." “I think that what happens with the entrepreneurship piece, some naturally have talents and skills to be that, and they desire that naturally, and then some use it as an opportunity to create the freedom they’re looking for in terms of being able to use their skill sets,” said Sims.
To Sims, the answer is in our internal communities and suggests that black women mentor each other and find support outside of their managers to help groom their careers. Overall, she dubbed this phenomenon a "tough culture to crack."
Of course, the ambition has to count for something so the world better watch out for women of color who are on their way to taking over!