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Black Female Attorneys Face More Challenges In The Workforce, According To New Study

Black women often endure racial prejudice and sexism as they scale the legal corporate ladder. A recently published joint study from Kanarys, Inc. and the National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division highlights the issues affecting this demographic. To conduct their study, State of Black Women in the Law DEIB Assessment Report, the organizations surveyed Black female members of the NBA WLD, its affiliate chapters, and other legal organizations to gather data. 

The survey revealed that 47% of respondents have been responsible for educating others about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) regardless of their position in the company. Another 70% of participants reported experiencing or witnessing discrimination or bias in their field. For many women, these discoveries may not come as a surprise. It doesn’t for Mandy Price, co-founder and CEO of Kanarys, who spoke about the survey’s findings.

“Before I co-founded Kanarys, I practiced law as a private equity attorney for over 12 years, and it was the inequities I faced as a Black woman in law that motivated me to dedicate my life to creating systemic change within DEIB,” she said.

“While this report revealed great progress, the results also show that there is still much to be done. We hope the findings will accelerate progress within the legal industry and beyond and foster an inclusive and equitable culture for Black women.”

Krystal Studavent Ramsey of the NBA WLD also discussed the disparities, saying, “Black women remain significantly underrepresented in the legal profession, and growth is sluggish. To drive progress, it was necessary to evaluate the true experiences and sentiments of Black women lawyers.” She continued, saying, “We hope this report helps organizations understand the work that needs to be done to further the advancement of Black women in the legal industry.” 

Kanarys, Inc. and NBA WLD are strong advocates for diversity efforts within the workforce. Kanarys, Inc. is a technology-centered company committed to helping organizations incorporate strong DEI values and challenging bias in the workforce, and the National Bar Association Women’s Lawyers Division helps address issues that most impact Black women lawyers. 

Additional findings from the assessment report revealed that 66% of participants experience a lower-than-average sense of belonging, and 14% would hesitate to report DEIB conflicts to the responsible leadership out of fear of retaliation. However, 67% of participants also shared that they believe their opinions matter in the workplace. 

The study exposed underlying issues in the legal workforce for Black women, issues that have long been overlooked and downplayed. With this study, Kanarys, Inc. and NBA WLD hope to enact dramatic changes in how Black female attorneys are treated during their corporate ascent. 

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