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Black Women in Corporate America: Strategies for Breaking Through The Glass Ceiling

If you're a black woman in corporate America, you know that the challenges can feel insurmountable. It's hard enough to be a woman in business, but black women have an extra set of obstacles to overcome. From discrimination and lack of opportunity to pay disparities and microaggressions, it can feel like the deck is stacked against us. But it's important to remember that together we can make a difference, and it's no longer a "zero-sum" game to rise to leadership positions in the corporate environment.

Challenges Black Women Face in Corporate America

The struggle for black women in business is real; we are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions in corporate America. This is especially evident when looking at the number of black woman leaders in Fortune 500 companies. Only 3% of executive-level jobs are held by black women, which is due to a variety of challenges. From racial and gender bias, wage gaps, microaggressions, pressure for perfection, tokenism, "double-bind" dilemma, the lack of role models, and so on, there are no shortages of challenges for black women to overcome.

As a result, we are left out of meaningful discussions and decisions that can cause our careers to stall and quickly hit a glass ceiling.

Strategies for Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

The glass ceiling can be challenging to break through, but you can use various strategies to help make it happen. The most important strategy is to focus on leadership and relationship skills to complement your education and technical skills.

Make networking a priority.

Networking is an essential skill to have. It helps you build valuable relationships and contacts that can lead to opportunities and help you achieve your goals. Here are some examples:

  1. Attend events related to your industry to meet people involved in the same field as you are, learn from their experiences, and network with them.

  2. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter to connect with potential mentors who could help you take your career further down the right path.

Network with other successful women in business

There are countless ways for women in business to network and build relationships with one another. One of the best ways to do this is by attending events, conferences, and networking mixers that cater specifically to women. By getting involved with groups that support and uplift all women in business, you can share your experiences, learn from others, and make valuable connections.

Invest time in Your Mentors and Sponsors

Be strategic in choosing mentors and sponsors, selecting those with your best interests. Building a support network can provide valuable advice and resources to navigate the corporate world. Leaning on this network when times get tough will help encourage and motivate perseverance to achieve career goals.

Join professional organizations

Joining professional organizations will provide you with even more opportunities to network and learn from others in the same field. By staying active in these groups, you'll stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and gain a better understanding of how to succeed in your career journey.

Speak Up and Be Heard

“I didn’t learn to be quiet when I had an opinion. The reason they knew who I was is because I told them." -- Ursula Burns, CEO Xerox 2009-2016

Undoubtedly, success in business demands speaking up and being heard. Regardless of who you are, your voice carries a lot of weight when making a difference. Speak up for yourself - whether it's for the right to be treated fairly in the workplace or expressing an opinion that isn't always well-received.

Be Willing to Take Risks

The journey to success is never easy, but it's worth the effort to achieve great things. No matter the challenge - persist until career goals become a reality.

Stay Informed and Educated

Keep up with industry news to stay fully aware of current changes affecting the marketplace, so you're in an excellent position to negotiate for what you deserve.

Importance of Staying Focused.

For women of color, the journey to success can be treacherous. Despite all the obstacles in our way, never giving up is essential.

Here are five essential things to keep in mind when breaking through the glass ceiling:

  1. Believe in yourself and your capabilities.

  2. Never let anyone undermine your confidence.

  3. Be persistent and always strive for excellence.

  4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

  5. Stay inspired and motivated - it will help you stay on track.


Although we face many challenges in the business world, we can change the face of leadership in Corporate America and make it easier for the next generation to be more on an equal footing -- so fight the good fight.

Whether you're looking to land that next promotion or find a job, you'll love, Yes Girl Career Coaching team is here to help. We're a part of your support network and rooting for success in your career.

About Yes Girl Career Coaching: Yes Girl Career Coaching is a platform dedicated to empowering women in corporate environments to own their career journey. Want to get free coaching and career tools, sign-up for a free coaching session on our website


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