Young, Black and Gifted: Why Woman of Color Struggle in the Corporate World

I recently saw an article on Rising Africa that stated African American woman was the highest ranked demographic in America as of 2015. I also see in my personal life many African-American women are attending school, starting businesses, and basically being superman while dealing with other personal life tasks. So, why does it seem that woman in color, particularly black woman get no respect in the corporate world?

According to Fortune, it has been report by The Center for Talent Innovation finds that “black woman are more ambitious and interested in power than their white counterparts”.  So it should be a no brainer that companies and brands would want to hire more woman of that caliber into their business to help them grow. With such a go-getter mindset, she can help your business reach a new audience that the CEO wouldn’t have the set skills for especially in 2016. Not only does woman of color have credentials to be bosses and head woman in charge but also hiring woman of color would also give companies diversity that is much needed. With a diverse group of employees, that means new and fresh ideas of different perspectives. So, why is it such a struggle for woman of color to be accepted into the corporate world?

Whether it’s working in multi-million dollar companies or even starting their own business, there have been many office horror stories. According to The Center for Talent Innovation, a non-profit promotes diversity in the workspace, black woman are treated as if their invisible even though they are most likely to have leadership roles in business.

Most of the times black woman are ignored when expressing ideas, not taken serious in meetings, or even being criticized for how they wear their hair, it seems like they are many obstacles in the way for black woman to make it to the top. Within the same report The Center for Talent Innovation put together, they also stated that 26% of black women feel their talents aren’t recognized by their superiors, compared to 17% of white women. From my own personal experience, it has been plenty of times where I would not speak up, put my hand down or even been completely ignored when expressing ideas at jobs or meetings. Yvette Miley from MSNBC seemed to have a similar experience of mine when attending meetings in the corporate world starting out, “During editorial meetings in the ‘90s, I noticed that sometimes if I were to say, ‘Let’s do A,’ the room would continue in its discussion. I’d hear that idea of mine coming out of someone else’s mouth. And then the room would hear it, understand it, and get behind it”. 

What is the reason behind such ignorance towards black woman? According to psychology professor Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, people brains automatically dismiss the idea as seeing a black woman being an executive because their brains are biased to ignore woman. Then, who do they see as female executives in the office you may ask. The answer is white woman of course. And what they see as black executives is black men. This is due because to have they categorize black woman in their brain according to Valerie Purdie – Vaughn, “Because black women are not seen as typical of the categories “black” or “woman,” people’s brains fail to include them in both categories”.  Due to this injustice within the workplace against black woman, many are quitting their 9-5 careers to start their own businesses. According to Huffington Post, “1.9 million firms are majority-owned (51% or more) by women of color in the U.S. and these ladies employ 1.2 million people and generate $165 billion in revenues annually”.  Even with that great statistics for black woman entrepreneurs, even then black woman get type casted. After a recent interview with Naomi Coleman, creative director from Access by NKC. She explained how with having such a successful business, many people don’t expect a young, black woman to be the brains of it,” It has been a little bit of a struggle because when I get to places, during email everything is fine but when I get to certain places, they don’t expect it to be me”. During the interview she also explains she has more trouble with her business being taken serious as a boutique agency,” We work very hard to make sure you get the upmost respect from and the best work from us because we are a boutique agency but we always feel we have more to prove”. Then, there are problems with small things such as “getting press passes during fashion week from new designers”. Those things are not directly giving to her until they double check her credentials which in my humble opinion won’t have happened if she was a white woman.  

To come into conclusion, black woman have it hard in the corporate industry. No matter what industry you are working towards you may get shut down have questioning looks from people because you are a black woman but don’t let that stop you. If you don’t learn anything else from this article, just know you have the power to shine! So, don’t let anyone stop you from getting where you are destined to be. Show them why it’s called Black Girl Magic! 

Article by Keyonna Butler

Chinazo EnigweComment