The Status of Women of Color in the Workplace® 2021
The report targets critical areas for women of color at work and encompasses feedback from women of diverse backgrounds, spanning across different sectors. Our respondents disclosed whether their experiences were positive or negative and whether their current place of work was where they foresaw long-term or transitional employment based on their pay, roles, responsibilities, and everyday experiences.
Navigating the workplace is complex. For women of color, it is far more complicated. First, they have to overcome politics in the workplace. What you know will take you far. However, who you know can take you where you want to go. In addition, women of color must develop immunity towards the biases, discrimination, and microaggressions that accompany being both a woman and a person of color. These are issues faced by many who find themselves at the intersection of identities, whether they are gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability. This concept is known as ‘Intersectionality.’ Women of color face an emotional tax.
Thwarting their advancement can have a detrimental impact on their well-being and eventually result in them leaving their workplaces. Those that go through discrimination are more likely to opt-out of their jobs. Bias and discrimination are incredibly harmful to those experiencing it and to companies alike, who risk losing talented employees that can bring value to the firm. Through this report, women of color can learn how to overcome their experiences by advocating for themselves. Their counterparts can learn how to become allies, mentors, or sponsors. Leaders, managers, and HR professionals can take what you learn back to their companies and teams to improve company culture and revenue.
There are some positive and negative findings in our study. The good news is that more than 50% of women of color have an ally, mentor, or sponsor at work and are negotiating their compensation. In addition, women of color are a highly educated group. The majority of our respondents have received post-secondary education.
The bad news is that more than 50% of women of color are unhappy with their current place of work and their talent continues to be underutilized. As a result, a vast majority of women of color foresee opting out of their current workplace.
Many women of color are willing to stay at their current job if there are opportunities for them to grow professionally or if their company will aid in improving their quality of life. About half of our respondents responded before the Covid-19 stay-at-home order. There may be a slight shift in whether some may be working from home or not. Yet, based on the responses in our study, flexibility at work seems to be critical to women of color.
Even though women of color are making progress in the workplace, they still have barriers to overcome. To get over them, women of color need their companies to invest in diversity-equity-inclusion programs to ensure they are valued, have opportunities to advance, and are compensated fairly.