Sis, It’s Not You, It’s Them: Here’s Why Black Women Are Having A Hard Time Moving Up The Corporate Ladder

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A recent survey broke down the many ways "workplace culture" could be blocking your chances of success.
Marquita K. Harris Nov, 08, 2018

We already know the trials and tribulations of “living while Black” but did you know working, as a Black woman, is also a thing too?

It’s no secret that a lack of gender and racial diversity in the workplace is a problem numerous companies and industries struggle with (see: Hollywood). Though, according to a recent study, when it comes to Black women in the workplace, progress in some cases stops altogether.

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According to the 2018 Women in The Workplace survey from LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co., when it comes to moving up the ladder in the workplace, Black women experience more hurdles and challenges than any other demographic.

For starters, companies and their respective teams have…trust issues. Forty percent of Black women have had their judgment questioned within their area of expertise. This is in contrast to only 27 percent of men. This report was gathered from 279 companies and more than 64,000 employees were surveyed from different races, ethnicities, and beyond.

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“Black women, in particular, deal with a greater variety of microaggressions and are more likely than other women to have their judgment questioned in their area of expertise and be asked to provide additional evidence of their competence,” the survey noted.

The study also found that communication gaps and a lack of support were also major problems.

Forty-one percent of the Black women surveyed said they’d never had a meaningful interaction with a senior leader about their work. While only 27 percent of men had the same response. Managers were also less likely to promote the work of Black women, a move that can ultimately make or break someone’s career.

“For every 100 men promoted to manager, just 79 women are promoted. This gap in the promotion rate to manager is worse for women of color,” the survey noted. “Most notably, for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 60 Black women are.”

Furthermore, for women of color in general, the stats are staggering. Nearly one in five senior leaders are women and roughly one in 25 is a woman of color. 

While infuriating, this isn’t surprising.