Racial gaps in women's executive leadership in the USA

Last month I attended the Black Women’s Roundtable at the annual conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation where they released results from the latest report, Time for a Power Shift: Black Women in the United States & Key States, 2018. Presented by editor-in-chief Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D., the report assessed and analyzed the “challenges, triumphs, and overall contemporary condition of Black women” in the United States.

There was striking data about the racial gaps between Black and white women in the workplace. For example:

Black women are nearly three times more likely (22% vs 8%) than White women to indicate that they’d like to ultimately acquire a position of executive leadership. Yet when it comes to who actually receives those positions, white women make up almost a quarter (24%) of all executive leaders, even though only 8% say they aspire to such. Conversely, Black women make up just 1.5% of those who hold positions of executive leadership, while 22% indicate that’s exactly where they’d like to be.

The report went on to explain that there is still a tendency of companies to focus on gender diversity over racial diversity, both of which often exclude Black women:

…companies have made the clear decision to preference gender diversity (78%) over racial diversity (55%). And as has always been the cultural tradition in America, the term ‘woman’ is reflexively viewed as ‘White woman’ while ‘Black’ is viewed as ‘Black male.’ Due to these narrow conceptions of race and gender, Black women are especially likely to be left behind.

The report has given me a lot to think about, which I am still reflecting on and processing. At the very least, it reinforces the importance of including an intersectional feminist lens in our analyses of gender gaps, inequality and social exclusion.

You can read more about the report and its findings here: https://www.ncbcp.org/assets/full_version.pdf