Harvard Business Review published a report titled, “Beating the Odds”—an analysis of women of color who reached corporate levels including chair, CEO or C-level executive. The report opened with the following:
Any list of top CEOs reveals a startling lack of diversity. Among the leaders of Fortune 500 companies, for example, just 32 are women; with the recent departure of Ken Chenault from American Express, just three are African-American; and not one is an African-American woman. What’s going on?
Hey, take a look at the advertising industry, where there are less than 100 Black women in executive roles.
The HBR report presented this conclusion:
When African-American women are underrepresented in an organization’s senior leadership roles despite robust academic credentials and work experience, their struggles often suggest a broader problem: a workplace that fails to offer every employee equal access to opportunities for growth. Much of the narrative about women and African-Americans in corporate life focuses on derailment, plateauing, and off-ramping—and that’s doubly true for African-African women. As the women we interviewed demonstrate, that narrative need not be the rule. However, it takes extraordinary ability, perseverance, and support to transcend it. The insights gleaned in our study are important not just for African-Americans and women; they’re essential for any manager who recognizes what research has shown over and over again—that an organization’s diversity is its strength.
In adland, Black women must exhibit super-duper-extraordinary ability, perseverance and support to overcome the divertsity and exclusivity—unless they’re willing to settle for a Chief Diversity Officer position.