Women in Leadership: The Myth of Working Hard

A recent study by McKinsey suggested that by the year 2030, between 40-160 million women worldwide will likely need to transition to higher-skilled jobs, in part due to increased automation and AI. If that proves true, it presents both challenges and opportunities for women of all backgrounds as they grow their presence and influence in the corporate world and beyond. Undeniably, there’s been some progress, and some might argue significant progress. However, in reality, many women aren’t enjoying or able to access these opportunities for a variety of reasons[ including stubborn biases that mostly impact women of color, at least here in the U.S.

This subject was the topic of this podcast episode of Becoming Inclusive with Kaleidoscope Group Executive Consultant Joyce Trimuel joining Kat and Reggie to share her insights and recommendations for women in the corporate world who want to better understand how they can anticipate and overcome some of the obstacles that many women still face as they try to grow their careers and break into leadership roles and C-Suites.    

A Snapshot of U.S. Trends     

The challenges faced by women are global in scope, but let’s look at the U.S. to focus in on just one cultural dynamic to illustrate the point that women of color face greater challenges in terms of upward mobility in corporate America.     

A recent study titled The State of Black Women in Corporate America 2020 by the Lean In Foundation and McKinsey found that Black women, in particular, were only 58% likely to be less likely than their White male peers to be promoted to managers. The study also found that they had only 64 percent (64%) were hired for those positions. The same study also found that African American women were less likely than their male or female peers of any race to have the support and career advocacy needed for promotion. 

What Women Can Do

Let’s be honest.  When it comes to shattering the glass ceiling there aren’t any easy fixes. Change takes time and requires constant reinforcement on multiple levels. But there are some steps that women can take to challenge convention and “self-advocate” not only for themselves but for all women. 

For African American and Hispanic women, who generally face greater barriers, it’s crucial to grow their networks to include advocates, sponsors, and mentors; active advocates who will not only support you, but “actively” work toward your career progression. As mentioned by Joyce in the podcast, many of these people may not look like you or identify with your lived experience. That’s okay.  They will come to understand your leadership qualities based on your performance and interpersonal strengths. 

It’s also important to be realistic. Setting unrealistic goals based on unrealistic timelines will only prove frustrating and may lead you to give up prematurely. 

And finally, bring your “authentic self” to the table. Too often women have been encouraged to behave like their male counterparts in the corporate world. That’s a mistake. Or as Joyce brilliantly put it, “My authenticity is my Superpower.” We’d all be smart to heed those words. 

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