Harvard Business Review Shows Shocking Numbers When It Comes to Qualified Black Women in the Workplace

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By: Krystle Crossman

It is no secret that discrimination against women happens in the workplace every day. However what about when the women are black women? How much more discrimination do they face when going for higher positions? It turns out that black women are grossly ignored at work. They are especially ignored when it comes to getting a promotion even if they are the most qualified for the job. Many black women with college degrees still feel that they are overlooked all too often even though they meet and sometimes exceed the qualifications of the jobs that they are looking for.

Research from the Harvard Business Review found that black women who were graduates of Harvard found that in the workplace they are overlooked far too often for promotions. Black women apply for promotions more than white women do however 46% of the black women that go for a higher job feel like they are pushed out of the ring before their applications are even looked at. Many feel that when they are in important meetings or strategizing on a project for the company that their ideas are not taken seriously, even if they are really good ideas.

The research from the HBR study also found that 44% of black women feel that their careers are stalling because they cannot get promotions as easily. One woman, Karla Martin, who is now the Director of Global Strategy for Google stated that she used to work for a consulting firm when she was younger. While she was at this firm she helped on a large project and had to hand-lead a man on her team to a solution to cut costs and save millions of dollars. Did she get recognition for it? No. The man that she had to spoon-feed the answers too ended up getting promoted over her and no credit was given to her at all. This happens all too often.

Many black women are strong and confident. They are natural leaders. The senior vice dean of Columbia Business School says that these statistics are concerning because the qualifications of the women that are being turned down for higher power jobs combined with the stereotypes of black women being powerful and intense should work in their favor and yet they are still getting passed over.

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6 Comments

  1. welcome to being black in the office. there is nothing new about this. the same thing happens to black men in the office and in meetings. this is definitely a black thing and not just a black woman thing. but you can sub-divide black people into genders an imply that it’s unique to black women. it’s not.

  2. The article lays out enough evidence and further solidify my belief to only contribute enough to get the job done and do not share excess knowledge. While you are sitting their chattering off all those wonderful ideas and spoon-feeding your backstabber, they are receiving all the credit and glory plus promotions. Word of advice, be your OWN BOSS. Stop begging for a promotion or a job.

    • I have worked in IT consulting for 20 years for 4 different companies. I agree with you, but not entirely. I do agree that some will take your ideas and credit for your work, and run with it. It has been my experience that people of all hues will do this IF the corporate culture rewards them for doing so. I have personally had a White man and two White women question if I was ready for a promotion (I was doing the work at the higher level already), and several senior executives of varying ethnicity/backgrounds came to my defense, so that I got my promotion. I have had 2 Black women question my competence and ethnicity (“Girl, are you mixed?”) to others who in turn told me, while still smiling in my face and telling me that “We’re just “looking out for you sistah girlfriend”. One of them told someone I know very well that I was not a good leader or supervisor, and still thinks that I don’t know that she did that. The keys for my continued survival and success are: 1) excel at your work (No one can doubt your abilities forever if you’re getting the job done); 2) develop and nurture relationships (You’ll need supportive peers, mentors and advocates, and should keep in touch with all of these people just in case you have to make a career move. If you’re a solid performer, they’ll have no problem working with you again); 3) CYA (cover your a$$ – by this, I mean document, document, document. Keep records of your accomplishments, compliments that you get from others and your ideas as you may need that evidence later. Make sure that people other than your supervisor know so that they can speak up for you during performance evaluation discussions); 4) be ready at all times to transition to another job, and that could mean starting your own business (Keep that resume, LinkedIn profile, network and list of folks willing to give your a recommendation up to date); 5) be willing to volunteer for stuff (you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for you to expand your connections and influence; and 6) continuously look for opportunities that will allow you to start your own business (For example, be willing to work late for free to help a trusted colleague on a business proposal. If he/she wins the work, they may have a spot for you to join the team as a 1099); and 7) don’t burn bridges (Even if someone deserves a good cussin’ out, don’t give them the satisfaction. The world is smaller than you realize and you never know who knows who, so push positive energy into the universe).

  3. We all love this one… When you offer all these GREAT ideas at meetings and “they” all look at you and never respond. Three months later, when “Becky/Johnny” offers up the EXACT same idea it’s, “wow, that’s a great idea!” They then (try to) pretend that it didn’t happen.

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