Corporate America is tough. Especially for women of color. There’s no secret that Diversity & Inclusion has become the latest trend and top priority for most corporations as it relates to leadership. We’re seeing more women of color, such as Rosalind Brewer, the first African-America woman to be COO of Starbucks, gaining leadership roles and giving corporations a reason to pat themselves on the back. However, am I the only person that feels like it’s just for show sometimes? Corporations feel as though because they have one woman of color in leadership they’re now the poster child for diverse workplaces. But what about below the C-Suite level?

The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.

Depending on the organization, women of color tend to get stuck once they hit roles at the manager level. It’s almost as if that’s their highest level of competency. They aspire to do more but they’re constantly beat by the competition.

“48% women of color said they aspire to leadership positions, compared to 37% of white women. 27% of white women aspire to be a top executive, compared to 41% of women of color. Yet, it’s white women who are far more likely to land those roles. Almost 80% of companies place gender diversity in leadership as a top goal, while less than half place value on racial diversity.” – Emily Peck

Women of color are highly ambitious and just as competent, if not more in some cases, and are still not provided opportunities to get out the box they were placed in and unleash their full potential. This excerpt sheds light on something bigger than the desires of women of color. It shows that if corporations have placed a Caucasian woman in leadership, they believe they’ve reached their goals. That’s a great start as it relates to gender diversity, it’s just not fooling anybody. If minorities are still not provided the same opportunities, the value of their jobs, etc., all that diversity talk is irrelevant. Diversity without inclusion is dead.

I’m rooting for everyone but, I’m fighting for mine.

I will cheer on anyone, male or female, moving onwards and upwards in their careers. I am genuinely happy for them. I’m just not fighting for them. The work I do and the battles I fight are so my sisters that consistently exceed expectations will no longer get passed over because she lacks “presence”. What does "lacks presence" even mean? I’m nowhere close to where I want to be in my career but I know I was called to do something greater. I believe my purpose is to be an instrument in adding seats to the table as opposed to just sitting at it. Adding seats means creating room for my sisters. It means knocking on the door for the 80% of company priority to be diverse, in both gender and race.

Making it to the C-Suite or leadership in general should be more than the accolades. If you’re a woman that has made it out of the box, I need more from you than your plaques and trophies. I need guidance and support because I am over the “all my life I had to fight” so you need to as well attitude. I need you in the room speaking up when they fail to include women of color in succession plans. I need you to ask questions like “what do you mean by she lacks presence”? I need you to serve as the reminder that racial diversity within the workplace is still a big issue. I have goals on making it to the C-Suite because I’m on a deeper mission with a bigger agenda. So, while I may be rooting for everyone, understand that I’m fighting for mine. Black women are lit and that needs to be acknowledged.