A report by McKinsey and LeanIn.org titled “Women In the Workplace” said Black women experience several hurdles in corporate America. What exactly does that mean?
In a recent report, studies found that many Black women experience a general lack of support in spite of their excellent work ethic.
According to the report, although Black women leaders are more ambitious than other women at their level, they are also more likely than women leaders of other races and ethnicities to receive signals that it will be more challenging for them to move up the proverbial corporate ladder.
Although Black women often have to work ten times and hard to be recognized, the report finds that even when they finally get into leadership roles, they still experience micro aggressions. The report says that some of these micro- aggressions may come in many forms, including colleagues questioning their competence, or demeaning their work output. The report also stated that one in three Black women leaders said that they’ve been denied or passed over for opportunities because of personal characteristics, including their race and gender.
A Real Struggle
When in-depth reports like these are released, they are almost always right on the mark with their findings. As a Black woman who worked in corporate America for a few years, I saw first hand the impact that micro-aggressions could have. Despite being the top performer on the team who consistently surpassed sales goals for the region, and not just a specific branch, my efforts were often downplayed. My managers chalked my success up to my “cool accent” and “luck.” It didn’t stop there though. Although I was doing a lot of outstanding work, my managers began to become concerned that I was “doing too much,” and that began the long string of intimidation, passive aggression, and general undermining in what became one of the most toxic work experiences of my life. It is no shock that other Black women experience this.
The study further explained that about 38% of Black women leaders experienced being mistaken for someone in a junior-level role.
This is a grim reality that is unfortunately what many Black women face in the workplace. When Black women especially show up in their authentic selves and get work done, they are seen as “aggressive” or “doing too much.” On the other hand, when Black women specifically take the back seat and choose to do only what is expected of them, they are seen as “not hardworking enough,” “too quiet,” or “passive.” There is little wonder that many Black women are choosing to go into business for themselves and wave goodbye to the corporate America.
In a piece for Forbes, Dana Brownlee perfectly wraps up the reality of the situation by stating the obvious:
“The dismal psychological safety metric arguably highlights the toxic conundrum that so many Black women leaders face—frustrated by disparate challenges and barriers but not feeling safe enough to voice concerns. Indeed, one of the most dehumanizing yet durable racist trolls stifling many Black women leaders is that of the “angry Black woman.” As a result, many Black women leaders find themselves caught in a dysfunctional, non-reciprocal relationship with the workplace—continuing to contribute to and support organizations that clearly don’t nurture us in return. Many are choosing to move on.”