Black motherhood comes with specific challenges that impact job security and physical health, including higher maternal mortality and disproportionate financial penalties. Those challenges can be especially arduous without support from bosses and coworkers who understand the intersection of race and gender.
During the 2018 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, Mignott and her team successfully curated a two-day event in 48 hours that featured a lineup of all-women speakers and presenters called YurHouse. The concept was simple: Mignott wanted to know what would happen if you had a conference within SXSW that attracted some of the best female speakers.
Sheryl Sandberg’s New York Times bestseller, Lean In, opened an important dialogue about women in the workplace—but there was one major problem: It left out women of color—and the unique challenges and obstacles they face. Sandberg has since acknowledged pay disparities with white women and the ghastly underrepresentation of women of color in the C-suite—and used her LeanIn.org foundation to work with the National Urban League and others to bring attention to the gap. But despite her best intentions, her efforts have not been met with much progress, leaving more women of color to lean out for a chance at entrepreneurship.
Dia Simms holds a rare position as a woman of color that the helm of a large company. With many women of color facing obstacles early in their careers, only 13% make it to vice president or higher on the corporate ladder, according to McKinsey & Company. “We’re in this first generation of minority women who are figuring out how to run the PTA, run a multimillion-dollar budget, and be great partners and daughters,” says Simms.
While black women picked themselves apart for not getting the job they wanted without clear reasons why, organizations were left not knowing that unconscious biases were taking place. “Organizations want to fixate on the myth of the pipeline problem and not wanting to lower the bar, when the bar that we see lowered consistently is the bar for white leaders,” Walker says.