Black Women Less Likely to be Promoted, Receive Recognition for Accomplishments - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

A new study confirms the many workplace inequities of which professional black women are already familiar. The Women in the Workplace 2018 study published by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. shows how women, and particularly black women, face huge disadvantages at work.

The study touches on the pay gap between black woman and everyone else. Black women receive 39% less pay than white men and 21% less than white women. This pay disparity exists even if black women do the same work and have the same level of education as white men and women.

Moreover, many Americans are unaware that a pay gap exists. According to a separate LeanIn.Org/SurveyMonkey study out today, one-third of Americans do not know about the pay gap between black women and white men; half are unaware of a pay gap between black and white women

Pay equity is just one issue black women face in the office. The Women in the Workplace study also found:

  • Black women are less likely to be promoted. For every 100 men promoted at the management level, only 60 black women are promoted.
  • Black women have less access to a company’s senior leadership. 59% of black women in the workplace have never even had an interaction with someone at the senior level.
  • Black women receive less support from managers and also have less encouragement to achieve a work/life balance.
  • Black women are less likely to have their work accomplishments promoted by managers and are less likely to receive opportunities to showcase their work.

The Women in the Workplace study surveyed 64,000 employees. Also, 279 companies employing more than 13 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of their HR practices.

“I would like a manager who respects and values my opinions, especially in my realm of expertise. I’d love to be asked, ‘What are your thoughts?’ Or, ‘We’re having this meeting. Can I pull you in on this?’ But that doesn’t happen,” reported one black woman in the study.

The report also includes case studies from companies trying to level the career playing field; these companies include Allstate, L’Oreal, Mozilla, P&G, and Hilton.

The study’s authors offer advice to businesses on breaking down barriers—often caused by inherent bias. Their advice:

  • Don’t ask job candidates about their current compensation, which can perpetuate pay disparities
  • Be transparent about the pay ranges for different roles so all employees know what to expect
  • Audit compensation data regularly to maintain fairness — and review the data by gender and race to ensure black women are being paid fairly
  • Employees involved in hiring and promotions should receive bias training to help them make more objective decisions (less than 20%  of companies require unconscious bias training for employees involved in hiring and promotions))
  • Ensure formal mentorship and sponsorship programs are opening doors for black women
  • Encourage informal interactions between black women and more senior colleagues — these types of personal connections can be more effective than formal programs and propel careers

Read the full Women in the Workplace 2018 report here.