Have you often wondered why you haven’t been promoted at work, despite your efforts and knowledge of the job? A new study found that Black women are often overlooked for promotions because of a disconnect that exists between us and our managers.
It’s a career fact: Black women face many obstacles in the workplace, from dealing with racial challenges to falling victim to gender biases. A new study not only confirms this, but narrows in on the disconnect many Black women in the workplace have with their managers. According to the research commissioned by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co., women of color still “face even more biases and barriers to advancement” than white women.
While most already know women of color are underrepresented in the workplace, they are far less likely than their peers to be promoted to manager. They are also more likely to have to deal with daily discrimination and most often their managers will not have their back. When there is a disconnect, employees and their managers can’t foster good relationships and this causes staff members to look for employment elsewhere.
The Women in The Workplace 2018 survey found other interesting facts: “For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 60 Black women are; 40% of Black women have had their judgment questioned in their area of expertise; 27% of men have; only 35% of Black women said their manager promotes their contributions to others; 46% of men said their manager does; 41% of Black women said they never have a substantive interaction with a senior leader about their work; just 27% of men said that” Forbes reported.
These are dismal stats, but all doesn’t have to be lost. Ashby Fowler, a human resources consultant, says you and your professional peers have power to push back. “Form affinity groups, then contact the CEO directly, saying that you want to be a feedback organization. Then there can be a way to send information about what you and others are experiencing.”
Affinity groups can offer much-needed support as they can encourage companies to conduct “an equity study on who gets paid what and who is being promoted. You need to get the data so you’re not guessing,” adds Fowler.
Having such a support system can also help women of color deal with other factors, such as being the “only” women of color in the workplace. Often times, being the “only” means you need to prove yourself more. According to the study, 51% of “Women Onlys” said they need to show they are more competent than others on staff. On the other hand, just 13% of “Men Non-Onlys” felt that way.
“The impact of being an ‘Only’ is a phenomenon affecting 20% of all women and twice that for women of color where they feel uniquely alone, plus having the scrutiny for representing a whole group,” Alexis Krivkovich, one of 12 Women in the Workplace co-authors and the managing partner for McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office wants to see employers become more aware of any gender and racial disparities in their workplaces, said. “People who describe themselves as being an ‘Only’ also say they feel more microaggressions in the workplace and more times that their decisions are being questioned.”
Diversity in the workplace would help overcome many of these issues.
“When we see a lack of diverse representation in a workplace, it’s often because of biases or filters that we may not be aware of,” Fowler said, and added, “Some managers don’t know how to support their staff, especially when you add the subtle filters that they may unconsciously have. In the process, many times there are unspoken ideas on who is worthy and who is valued…a lot of assumptions are made to the detriment of the women of color and the bottom line of the company.”
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