Interviews with 59 black female executives explore intersectional invisibility and strategies to overcome it

    By: Nor Attisha on May 14, 2018

     Alexis Nicole Smith, Marla Baskerville Watkins, Jamie J. Ladge and  Pamela Carlton Write, “Black women continue to be sorely underrepresented in leadership roles in corporate America. Currently, they make up12.7% of the U.S. population, yet they represent only 1.3% of senior management and executive roles of S&P 500 firms, 2.2% of Fortune 500 boards of directors, and in a post-Ursula Burns world, there is not a single black female CEO in the Fortune 500.

    Despite this underrepresentation, a small subset of black women have found success as leaders and played key roles in driving organizational change. We conducted in-depth interviews with 59 black women executives who have occupied senior-level positions in U.S. corporations. We sought to understand the barriers they faced, their strategies for ascending through the organization, and the tools they used to manage significant organizational change efforts and navigate career risks.

    We conducted interviews around the years 2007 and 2014 — one year before and 6-7 years after the global financial crisis, when many businesses faced new challenges. The Black female leaders we interviewed were all within four levels of the CEO (e.g., chief marketing officer, senior vice president) during the first interview and 51% were still at that rank or higher during the second interview. The women led companies in various industries including financial services, consumer products, and healthcare.”

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    Released: May 14, 2018, 8:14 am
    Keywords: NAWL News


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