Women of Color (WOC) face a double disadvantage in the workplace, particularly in IT and other male dominated industries.
Men and women are:
- Given, exposed to, groomed for opportunities to advance, and compensated differently with women falling on the short end of the equation.
Individuals of white decent and individuals of color are:
- Given, exposed to, groomed for opportunities to advance, and compensated differently with individuals of color falling on the short end of the equation.
- Fall on the short end of both categories accounted for in the workplace.
- Experience a much greater wage deficit than white women.
- Have a 4% chance of being a senior leader, while white women have a 20% chance.
Affirmative Action was implemented to give people of color access to the same rights as their non-colored counter parts, and women’s rights was created to give women access to the same rights as men. Both were needed and are admirable changes and advancements in the quest for the equality of people. Now is the time to talk about, account for, and implement change on behalf of the population that falls under both areas of disadvantage. Men are chosen before women, and white women are chosen before women of color which illustrates the need for and necessity of another seat at the table.
Working in and with IT for over 12 years I have witnessed firsthand the lack of various WOC in leadership roles at a Fortune 15 organization. From my 12 year tenure, I can count on one hand the number of African-American and Hispanic women leading. One hand! With only one African-American holding a lower level management position. One!
Women have been fighting for years over the one seat at the table which has been allotted for a woman; however, this one seat is not enough. Allowing more WOC into leadership positions opens the doors for more innovation and togetherness, thus reducing the amount of backbiting and discouragement among female counterparts. Women of diversity need a seat! One woman cannot account for the needs of all women. Diversity is important and helps companies stay relevant and capture various markets. A white woman cannot account for what a woman of color will relate to, just like a woman of African descent may not be able to account for what will resonate with a women of Hispanic descent.
A proper mix of varied representation will yield better results, but what’s the proper mix?
The number of seats needing to be allotted depends on the:
- Size of the team/organization
- Desired areas of organizational/departmental growth
- Anticipated market penetration
There is not a one size fits all answer to this question, but there is a desperate cry for this change to occur. Women and WOC especially are leaving companies in massive numbers to start their own organizations because they are tired of not being recognized. WOC represent uncharted territories and unheard voices of the customer. Women, and WOC add value! What’s missing is the opportunity to showcase the contributions WOC can offer.