Black women lean in….and still don’t get noticed.

The consulting firm McKinsey and Company and  (Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit leadership organization) released their latest research on women in leadership positions.

Here are the key findings from Women in the workplace:

Women are negotiating as often as men—but face pushback when they do

Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30% more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are “bossy,” “too aggressive,” or “intimidating.”

Women get less access to senior leaders

Women and men both view sponsorship by senior leaders as essential for success. Yet women report fewer substantive interactions with senior leaders than their male counterparts do—and this gap widens as women and men advance.



Women ask for feedback as often as men—but are less likely to receive it

Despite asking for informal feedback as often as men do, women report they receive it less frequently. Moreover, there appears to be a disconnect in the way managers convey difficult feedback. Most managers say they rarely hesitate to give difficult feedback to both women and men, but women report they receive it less frequently.



Women of color are the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline, lagging behind white men, men of color, and white women.

The report states:

Even though they make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, women of color hold a mere 3 percent of C-suite positions, despite having higher aspirations for becoming a top executive than white women. Compared to white women, women of color also report that they get less access to opportunities and see a workplace that is less fair and inclusive.

They are 9 percent less likely to say they’ve received a challenging new assignment, 21 percent less likely to think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees, and 10 percent less likely to feel comfortable being themselves as work.

And in all cases, Black women appear to be the most disadvantaged. Only 29% of Black women think the best opportunities at their company go to the most deserving employees, compared to 47% of white women, 43% of Asian women, and 41% of Hispanic women.

While 78 percent of companies report gender diversity is a top priority, only 55 percent report that racial diversity is.5 Clearly there’s important work to be done, and this starts with a greater awareness of the problem and a steadfast commitment to addressing it.

So, …that was depressing. Where do we go from here? 

A new report from The Centre for Talent Innovation released their research “Ambition in Black + White: The Feminist Narrative Revised” –and found that black women in America ARE leaning in, they ARE ambitious, and they aspire to the top leadership positions…but they don’t get noticed.

“Black women are more likely than white women to aspire to a powerful position with a prestigious title (22 percent vs. eight percent), yet such ambition comes from a long line of matriarchs—black women who prevailed as breadwinners despite a relentless undertow of discrimination and economic hardship. Yet, despite being hungry for leadership roles, black women are invisible to corporate management: only 11 percent have sponsors or senior advocates.”

“White women experience a different struggle, the book shows. They are highly ambitious but have misconceptions about power which divert them from pursuing a leadership position: 56 percent of white women believe the burdens of leadership outweigh the rewards. Their ambivalence is likewise a by-product of history, as for centuries white women have been confined to homemaker and helpmate roles—norms that have proven difficult to escape.” (see Talent Innovation  for more details)

See their latest research here: available at or


“Black women cannot shed their cloak of invisibility, and white women cannot put aside expectations that they be perfect mothers and wives.”  (Press Release)

I’ll update with another post as soon as I’ve finished reading the full report.



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