Underrepresented And Unsupported: The State Of Women Of Color In Corporate America

October 17, 2017  |  

Businesswoman holding digital tablet in discussion during office meeting with colleagues

The comprehensive annual report on the state of women in corporate America has just been released by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org and, honestly, things aren’t looking too rosy for women of color, with Black women experiencing particular difficulties.

“Drawing on pipeline data from 222 companies employing more than 12 million people, the 2017 report shows that women remain significantly underrepresented at every level in corporate America—and women of color face an even more dramatic drop-off at senior levels,” according to Women in the Workplace 2017. In fact, a mere one in five C-suite leaders is a woman, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color.

Corporations are basically overlooking Black women and their skills as, according to the report, it is harder for women of color to land leadership roles in companies. They receive less support from managers and get promoted more slowly, even though women of color are more interested in becoming a top executive than white women. “This negatively affects how they view the workplace and their opportunities for advancement—and is particularly acute for Black women,” said the report, which points out it’s the responsibility of businesses to incite change. Given the fact that most men surveyed think their companies are doing a good job of supporting diversity and the perception that the workplace is equitable across gender and race, that change may be hard to come by.

“When companies take a one-size-fits-all approach to advancing women, women of color end up underserved and left behind,” the report pointed out.

Forget climbing the ladder, just getting into entry-level positions is more difficult for women of color as well. “Women of color are the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline—behind white men, men of color, and white women,” said the report.

When women of color do get in the door, however, they are often first to leave due to the unsupportive environment. “Compared to men of the same race and ethnicity, women are leaving their companies at similar rates: white women are leaving as frequently as white men, and we see the same pattern among women and men of color,” the report stated. “However, there is a large racial gap: people of color are significantly more likely to leave their organizations than white people.”

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