Black women leaders in workforce double down on diversity

In today’s challenging landscape, after a surge of minority women entering the workforce in 2019, Black women seeking to capitalize on their growing numbers are faced with resistance and hostility as attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are on the rise.

And Black women who have advanced to top managerial positions, are still battling racial and gender pay gaps, while constantly having to prove themselves and communicate in a non-angry or non-emotional manner. 

Case in point, Harvard’s first Black president, Dr. Claudine Gay whose abrupt resignation in January, after serving as president for only a few short months sent shockwaves through the world of Black women professionals and spotlighted the lack of needed support from internal and professional organizations which makes the journey of leadership tedious and fraught with stumbling blocks.

Gay’s appearance in front of the House Committee on Education led to unsupported accusations of anti-Semitism coupled with equally absurd accusations of plagiarism ultimately caused her demise. But the real culprits that led to Gay’s resignation – racism, sexism, covert bullying, and other marginalizing practices in the workplace – are a curse to most Black women in top leadership positions. 

Similarly, Nikole Hannah-Jones blocked attempt to join the faculty of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was marred with racial overtones. The now Howard University professor is best known as co-creator of The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project,” which sought to recenter the contributions of Black Americans in U.S. history, dating back to 1619. A winner of a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur “genius” grant and other prizes, she was seen as a perfect candidate for the Knight chair at UNC, until she wasn’t.

Although the U.S. workforce reached an historic threshold with the surge of minority women obtaining jobs over the past few years according to U.S. Labor Department data which saw people of color now in the prime working age range of 25 to 54, surpassed white hires in numbers, they have not in workplace advancement.

 

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