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Boosting Brilliance: Black Women in the Corporate World Deserve a Career Glow-Up!


At LeaderKeys, we're all about boosting Black women to boss status. It's time to invest in Black women by addressing their unique challenges, giving them access to leadership opportunities, and stepping in or aside to ensure they conquer their career goals. In this blog, we want to spend some time talking about how we got here, why NOW is the time (as if it isn't always the time), and what we do at LeaderKeys to ensure Black women shine!

 


The Challenges That Got Us Here

 

1. Intersectional Invisibility


Black women often navigate a complex intersection of gender and racial biases. The dual impact of sexism and racism can create added barriers to professional advancement, making it crucial to advocate for a comprehensive approach to leadership development that considers the overlapping dimensions of our identity. Targeted approaches and support, for an audience often overlooked, create a new environment where we are seen and served.

 

2. Limited Representation in Leadership Roles


Representation matters. Period. The scarcity of Black women in leadership positions translates to a lack of role models, limiting the aspirations of those looking to climb the corporate ladder. Leadership readiness starts at the beginning of the career journey and when it is sustained throughout the employment lifecycle, then you actually achieve create an inclusive leadership pipeline. There will be more on this later.


3. Unequal Access to Opportunities

 

Structural inequalities create limited access to career-boosting opportunities for Black women. Take any given organization and run the numbers on their "leadership" programs. They are often offered at levels above the point where representation severely drops off. How do I know? Because I spent years developing these programs then having arguments about the participants needing to be at a certain "level" or identified as high potential - when I questioned whether I would meet the "criteria" for the program I designed and ran, I was told directly, without pause, NOPE. That's an access issue folks. And that is just one example.


4. Bias in the Employee Life Cycle


Implicit biases, or as we like to say, biases, impact multiple critical moments in the employee life cycle - from the job posting and interview process, to onboarding, or oftentimes, no onboarding, to promotion decisions and beyond. Some examples are:

  • Hiring - It will always be true that networking is king in finding opportunities, more precisely, it is often about who you know. But what this also breeds are affinity biases - preferring folks who share similar backgrounds or interests with you.

  • Compensation - We actually wish there wasn't so much data out there about this, but until the term Equal Pay Day goes away, this bias will keep Black women literally fighting for cents on the dollar, and it's ridiculous because once this cycle starts, it almost never breaks. Quick commercial break - LeaderKeys offers a Compensation Negotiation workshop designed just for Black women. Stay tuned.

  • Learning & Development - Ever heard of availability bias? This is when decisions makers relying on information readily available, rather than seeking a comprehensive understanding of an employee's skills and potential. We often talk about Black women being heavily judged on performance and not potential, so that means we are told to demonstrate a competency we are asking to build through training. See the problem?


We honestly could go on and on, but let's move to why it is important to pay attention to these things and do something about it.



Why You MUST Invest in Black Women

 

1. To Have a Strong Talent Pipeline of Leadership Ready Professionals:

By investing in leadership development for Black Women, you are not only investing in the individuals, but also the future of leadership. Empowered Black women leaders bring diverse perspectives, enrich organizational culture and drive innovation. Having the talent, you need throughout all the levels of your organization creates a pipeline that is ready to be tapped into when you need it. Not convinced? Well, think of the cost difference between an internal promotion and an external hire. The math is mathing!

  

2. To Fix the Broken Rung:

Coming back to this concept from when we covered the lack of representation! We are far beyond the concept of a glass ceiling; the issue is a broken rung where the path to leadership is cut short far before the C-suite. Investment in leadership and career guidance is a powerful tool at all levels and is most needed at mid-management where the drop-off of representation is severe. Often, we see report findings on the status of workers by race and gender, however, the catch all “people of color” doesn’t accurately capture the story of the Black woman, and the numbers for women of color are already not great at all. Black women equipped with the right skills, knowledge, and mentorship that they may not find in their workplaces, can break through barriers, inspiring others to follow suit.



Are there other reasons? Yes. But in my opinion, these are the two that are authentic and that matter. The rest of the 'for diversity' and to create 'equitable workplaces' and even the feel good 'create a sense of belonging' talk tracks are just that - talk without measurable impact. Change the landscape. Period.

 


LeaderKeys is Here for the Glow Up

At LeaderKeys, we are all about #makingpeopleawesome which means we have to be committed to making an impact on the professional journeys of everyone we work with. For Black women, we do go further in order to help achieve that 'Glow Up' in the overarching professional landscape, because collectively, we undeservedly sit at the bottom. So, we service this community to move this needle upwards and we want to do it in unimaginable ways to the point of disbelief. That's the goal. To do this, we tailor our leadership and career guidance programs to:

 

- Provide targeted mentorship and coaching that is supported by the community.

- Deliver skill-building workshops and training sessions.

- Foster a supportive environment for networking and collaboration.

 

Let's Wrap This Up

The investment in leadership and career guidance for Black women is not just a commitment to equity, it is how you act on that commitment. We invite organizations and individuals alike to join us on this journey. We are going to build a world where every Black woman can thrive in her professional pursuits - what role will you play?


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