Black Women Want Power… But They’re Not Getting It

A study of women’s professional ambition released by the Center for Talent Innovation found a striking demographic disparity: black women are far more comfortable with wanting and pursuing power than white women. 22% of African American women said they “aspired to a powerful position with a prestigious title,” whereas 8% of white women said the same.That should mean more black women are reaching senior-level positions, right? Wrong. Only five of the Forutne 500 CEOs are black—and only one of them, Xerox’s Ursula Burns, is a woman. This lines up with the CTI study’s findings: 44% of black women reported feeling stalled in their careers, and 55% were unhappy with their rate of promotion. That’s compared with 30% of white women who felt stalled in their careers, and just 28% who felt they weren’t getting promoted fast enough.Something is going on here that’s unrelated to a lack of ambition, and we need to give more direct support to black women to make it easier for them to get the power they want. The study authors recommend increasing both sponsorship opportunities and company-wide training on unconscious biases that affect their chances for career advancement.