All Articles Tagged "black women in corporate America"
There are some things that college just doesn’t prepare you for. It can provide you with knowledge of your field of study. It can give you career training. It can prep you for what and what not to say during an interview, bu the one thing, however, that college fails to prepare many of us for is what we will encounter once we’re actually hired. The American Dream leads us to believe that hard work and dedication are all that you need to succeed in this country; however, they fail to disclose the little disclaimer that says, “Please Note: This dream is often only applicable to qualifying races.” College taught me many things, but one thing that they did not tell me prior to shaking my hand and giving me a diploma was that in many cases, as a black woman in corporate America, you have to work ten times as hard just to be considered as good as your counterparts.
I remember my first paid internship in the public relations industry like it was yesterday. I popped up on the scene with my eyes beaming, deep brown skin glowing, and my heart full of expectations. I had already made up my mind that I would work harder than I’d ever worked in my life. I was prepared to conquer the world! I learned swiftly that an intern’s position was the lowest of the lowest on the totem pole, but I was prepared to stick my chest out, lift my chin up, push my shoulders back and handle my business like a woman because I knew that I would reap a greater reward in the end. So no, I didn’t expect anyone to give my anything. I was prepared to earn it fair and square. But the public relations department that I interned for was so small that it didn’t long to realize that I was being treated differently. The differential treatment started out with small things. You know, those things that are so “small” you ask yourself, “Did that just happen or am I bugging out?” For instance, things like my entire department tip-toeing out while I went to the bathroom to attend a company sponsored event that I wasn’t even made aware of until after the fact. Yeah. “Small.”
“You’re just an intern, they aren’t required to tell you anything,” is what I told myself as I carried out the rest of the workday alone, trying not to get in my feelings about the shadiness that had just taken place. But once another intern was hired, I could no longer blame the subtle shade on my title. This intern happened to be white, and once she was instantly invited to attend some of our more “upscale” events, while I wasn’t, I realized that my suspicions might be correct. My dark-er skin, wide-r hips, thick-er thighs, and full-er lips made me less qualified to attend these events because I would improperly represent the face of the brand, I suppose.
There was one instance where I had to go and make a purchase for some supplies using the department’s American Express Card. The way in which I was treated when I was given that card would’ve led a person to believe that I had a criminal background and was just given the code to Donald Trump’s bank account. “Don’t get happy and run off with that AMEX card in your purse,” the department coordinator called after me as I exited the office. My nostrils flared as I thought to myself “Girl bye, I’ve never had to steal anything in my life.”
Little comments such as that one went on as long as I was in this department. There was one occasion when the entire department went out to lunch and for some reason one of the other employees felt the need to tell me about her big, black, voluptuous nanny named Shelia whom she had as a child. I remember sitting there resisting the urge to twist up my face at her wondering, “Why in the hell is she telling me this? Does she want me to watch her kids or something?” Of course, there was no moral to her story–she just felt the need to share. I felt the urge to flip the table over and assume the stereotype of the angry black woman, but I didn’t. Instead I sat there silently.
(BNET) – A new report from the nonprofit group Catalyststates that “Collectively, women and minorities lost ground in America’s corporate boardrooms between 2004 and 2010.” Based on Catalyst’s research, that’s true enough: White men accounted for 72.9 percent of the members of Fortune 100 boards in 2010-slightly more than 2004, when they accounted for 71.2 percent. But lumping “women and minorities” together masks the real problem. It’s true that women haven’t gained much ground since 2004–just one lousy percentage point. And Catalyst, as an organization dedicated to women’s advancement in corporate America, is most concerned with women’s representation. But in terms of board representation, what the Catalyst research really shows is a disaster for African-American men.
By J. Smith
Continuing the fine American tradition of a small, white, wealthy minority being vastly overrepresented in large institutions, the Alliance for Board Diversity released a study that shows how things have gotten worse when it comes to the whitewashing of corporate America, not better.
“While research points decisively to the benefits of a diverse boardroom – including enhanced financial performance – white men continue to dominate corporate boards and have, in fact, increased their presence since 2004. Woman and minorities are still vastly underrepresented,” the ABD said.
So not only have diversity efforts stalled in America’s biggest board rooms, they’ve been altogether reversed. How did this happen? We had such great momentum for a while there. Remember affirmative action? Unfortunately, I am compelled to lay the blame on us, the black community. We know that people never voluntarily give up (or share) power; change has to be forced. If we stop fighting to loosen the ruling class’ grip on things like seats in the board room, then what do we expect? For them to just give us the jobs?
This is not to imply that there is a lack of qualified candidates of color or that we aren’t setting our aims high enough. Instead, I’m saying that we have collectively become unforgivably lax in our fight for justice and inclusion. Do we still care enough to demand our presence in the board room? Was the removal of the “white only” signs enough to appease us? I propose using our collective voice to go after things like institutionalized segregation, especially in meaningful places like the board room, instead of using what muscle we do have to be the “n-word police.” You know?
(Wall Street Journal) — The challenges women face often cut across industries. But some are also unique to specific sectors. Women who have risen high in four industries—finance, health, technology and media—sought to illuminate these issues by recounting their own experiences and assessing how women generally have fared in their fields…
MS. GALLONI: Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks, is the woman behind famous shows like “The Game” and “The Mo’Nique Show.” You started at BET in 1986 as general counsel. And then 10 years later you were promoted to chief operating officer. And you say many people below you tried to sort of trick you. They figured, “She doesn’t know my business, so I’m not going to tell her things.” Can you tell us a little bit about how that happened? And how much do you think that that had to do with the fact that you were a woman?.
MS. LEE: It was a small, entrepreneurial company. I had been part of a peer group of probably seven or eight other executives. All except two were male. I went from being part of the peer group to being the boss. And I found out all the other men had asked for the COO position, so they were not happy when I was given it.
(Seattle Medium) — In the corporate world—the land of office supplies, paper cuts, and ink stains—there has long existed a glass ceiling. At first glance, the mailroom clerk sees the CEO chair within her grasp, just up the ladder of success. But, alas, there is an invisible barrier. Maybe they are not the “right” race or sex. Or both. Many Black women who aspire to one day furnish an executive corner office are faced with a “double outsiders” status in today’s organizations. “Right now there is only one Black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company; that’s Ursula Burns at Xerox,” Michael Dutton, director of communications for the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) said. “Our members have achieved success on their own terms, and ELC shares their knowledge with leadership development opportunities.” According to the Black Women Executives Research Initiatives conducted by the ELC, there is a potential road map that can help Black women executives prepare for “C-suite” roles. “The C-suite is the staff of the CEO,” Dutton explained. “Those folks (who) support the CEO’s decision process—the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer, the executive vice presidents and the senior vice president. The CEO is occupied with reporting to the board of directors. It’s his staff that is managing the business and keeping the CEO informed.”
(Black America Web) — Simple strategies for reclaiming your schedule and your life. Statistics show that African-American women work significantly more hours per year than other women, are less likely to have a partner to share household responsibilities, and more likely to be either working moms or working single moms. So if any of those describe you, you know how important to find ways to maximize your time – and find some “me” time every once in a while. Here are some smart strategies for navigating everyday scenarios without becoming overloaded or overwhelmed…