Priming Black Women for Corporate Leadership

April 7, 2011  |  

(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.”

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