Study: C-Suite Exclusion of Black Women Due to Inadequate Visibility, Networks

'Burden is on black women' to attract opportunities

CEO interviewed said, “White men don’t have a frame of reference. Most of them don’t know any black women in this setting. Black women need to be aware of this and work on it. The burden is on black women to figure it out.”

Livers and her team hope this report starts a dialogue across corporate America, resulting in actionable steps. The ELC plans to reach out to CEOs and business schools to develop formalized coaching programs for black women executives in route to the C-Suite.

To attain C-Suite status, one participant put it best: “When you’re in the C-Suite, everyone who’s at the table wears the company hat, not just a functional hat. You’re really up at a high enough level where you’re representing and should be able to speak to all aspects of the company. They see you as someone who can embrace change and who knows how to look through the windshield and help lead.”

Further reading: More Minorities in C-Suite is Good for Business

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  • Lynn Godfrey

    It really is sad that we’re still having this conversation, and that black women represent only 1% of executives in the “C-Suite”, I would submit it probably less than 1%.

    It has been my experience as an African American woman that the qualities you identify, that we bring to the table, “help heighten the chance for broader and more innovative approaches throughout the organization” because they “champion new viewpoints to companies mired in status quo thinking” are the very things that gets us in trouble.

    White men do not appreciate African American women bringing new approaches to the table, at least that has been my experience.