Advancing Women in the Workplace One Conversation at a Time

 Even at Companies Striving for Inclusion, 
Women of Color Can Feel Left Out

As we take time to celebrate Black History Month, we are provided with an opportunity to have a deeper discussion regarding women's leadership advancement. Significant research shows that women of color are facing greater barriers to advancement than white women do, even in companies that are being vigilant regarding inclusion of all individuals. Not surprisingly, data shows that black and Hispanic women experience a wider gender wage gap and extended path to senior leadership roles than white women. So in an environment that needs more advocacy, how can we talk about the barriers that prevent or slow down the efforts of women of different races to advance?   
The Harvard Business Review article, Even at “Inclusive” Companies, Women of Color Don’t Feel Supported, examines understanding high-quality connections and inclusive workplaces. The researchers found that black and Hispanic women may be unwilling to take the risk of being emotionally vulnerable -- a trait needed to build a "shared sisterhood" -- with white women when they are working together on highly interdependent tasks. That idea of shared sisterhood is necessary to "forge deep and meaningful relationships at work between women of varying races or ethnicities, with the goal of collective advancement in the workplace."

This is a meaningful conversation for white men and women and women of color to engage in. At your next staff meeting, invite your team to read the article and discuss the below questions. I recently spoke with Monica McCoy for her insights on how to build a “shared sisterhood” and create inclusive and meaningful relationships at work, here's what I learned.

Share with your network:

  • Are there instances on your team that could lead to women of color feeling isolated or not included, such as not receiving invitations to social events or opportunities to share information or expertise?
  • Have you prompted your team to take opportunities to hear about someone's experience at work who is different from them?
  • What are some examples of language that can minimize a person of color's feelings and how can these comments be reframed to be more supportive?
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Booking now for Women's History Month in March!

Let's all be #EachforEqual. 
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

I appreciate your feedback. What worked or didn’t work for you? What topics would you like discussed in future editions? Please send your thoughts to or reach out to me directly at Connect with me on Twitter @YWomen and my Father of Daughter Facebook page.   

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