Black Woman in Corporate America (Part 2)
This is part two of the second installment in our Amplify Voices content series that will bring diverse voices and perspectives from across the organization to the forefront. Our intention is to ensure Black and underrepresented people in our community are given the space to be seen, heard and recognized. Read more about our commitment to sharing and amplifying these important voices and our action plan for driving diverse, equitable and inclusive outcomes at our agency and in the industry.
In an earlier post, I wrote a deeply personal reflection that highlighted my own truth. However, it’s important that we provide spaces for more Black people to articulate their own perspectives. More stories must be heard and shared to spark dialogue and change hearts. I asked some Black women in my community to define Black womanhood in corporate America in a few lines. Their words reflect their own unique experiences, as well as collective shared experiences.
Being a Black woman in corporate America is…
- “So many things, I wouldn’t know where to start.” – Anonymous
- “a tiresome balancing act” – Khadijah, Production Coordinator
- “Working twice as hard to get half as far. And as you climb the corporate ladder, you are even more likely to be surrounded by people who don’t look like you.” – Anonymous
- “Being a Black woman in corporate America is being a unicorn. It’s being questioned on your ‘blackness’ both by your Black peers and white colleagues. It’s being looked over for promotion, lacking sponsorship, and meaningful mentorship.” – Anonymous
- “Exhausting and can feel isolating. At times you feel the need to silence, tone yourself down and/or code switch in order to conform.” – Anonymous
- “Having a peer on your first day of work say, ‘I never noticed we didn’t have any Black people until you came.’” – Anonymous
- “Being a Black woman in corporate America AND an introvert does not allow for you to come to work as your true self every day. If you are shy, or quiet, you are often labeled as standoffish, cold, or unwelcoming. This ultimately pressures you to uncomfortably take on a more extroverted personality in attempts to steer away from stereotypes or unconscious bias.” – Anonymous
- “It’s equally empowering as it has been taxing. My perfectionism is predicated upon the unspoken burden of being ‘the’ Black representative. However, it has motivated me to elevate my performance in ways unimaginable.” – Morgan, Human Resources Manager
- “It requires more hard work and dedication just to be seen by your counterparts in a positive way.” – Anonymous
- “It’s carrying the weight and pressure of representing negative stereotypes placed on Black women and the Black community on your shoulders.” – Anonymous
- “Being a Black woman in corporate America, you’re invisible until you’re highly visible. Due to the microaggressions and lack of representation, I am self-conscious about everything from how I wear my hair to work, to how tight my blouse is, to should I even bring my partner to our holiday party. The optimist in me is grateful for this amazing opportunity to thrive professionally and provide for my family. However, it’s easy to notice that there’s not one Black woman on our leadership team.” – Emani, Founder of MOCHA By Marie
- “It’s to know that you are being held to a higher standard than your white counterparts. It’s carrying the weight and pressure of representing and negating stereotypes placed on Black women and the Black community on your shoulders. It’s feeling like an imposter when you are overqualified.” – Amber, Higher Education Professional
- “It’s having hope that you can break the glass ceiling when you see other sisters rise. It is being proud of your hard work and accomplishments when you see Black women make it like Ursula Burns (past CEO, Xerox), Oprah (The Oprah Winfrey Network), Rosalind Brewer (COO and Group President, Starbucks), and Mary Winston (CEO, Bed Bath & Beyond). – Anonymous
- Black women in America hope for a better future for Black people everywhere and for Black people in corporate to overcome the discrimination of the past. We have hope!” – Colette
Thank you to all of these incredible Black women who shared a snapshot of their daily realities with the world, which is no easy task. I hear you, I see you, and I stand with you. I invite others to do the same, to not only read or listen, but truly reflect on what you can personally do to be a changemaker in your own work environment and community. Then, do it.
Do these words resonate with you? Share your own story.