Black Women Haven’t Been Thriving

Jun 15, 2022

Success alone isn’t enough to feel empowered and valued.

Black women are not thriving.

If you’re paying attention to the realities of our society, you know all this. If you are a Black woman, you feel all this, too.

Black women have a worse experience receiving support at their workplace next to White women, Latinx, Asian women, and men. Black women are under-represented in leadership positions, less likely to interact with senior leaders as mentors and sponsors, and face everyday situations that make them feel like they don’t belong.

When Black women show up as their true selves, they’re told that they’re “too much,” “too bossy,” too sassy” …

… Or too strong.

When black women want to talk about racism, especially anti-blackness, they are discouraged from doing so because it may make people feel unsafe and it may impact their careers.

As organizations are trying to do work to be inclusive and equitable, Black women still have to calibrate how they show up authentically as themselves. They are told to be smaller, less visible, and quieter if they want to succeed. They are told to show grit and resilience as a way of navigating their peers and leaders daily.

These are a few of the reasons why Black women are not thriving.

The big question is: Do we want to accept only survival skills: where our brains can only focus on fight-or-flight?

Challenging the Definition of Success

Our workplaces are overflowing with Black women who work hard, only to find that the raises and promotions are great but that there is more to thriving, feeling excited about their work, and feeling like they belong. It is one of the biggest reasons that the Great Resignation happened.

Data suggests that the current workplace for everyone is mentally and physically draining. And it doesn’t facilitate thriving.

The lack of support for Black women employees in organizations, it’s draining. How much of their wellbeing must they pour into a cup until it’s all gone? How long will Black talent be ignored?

It’s enough when the rest of the world tells them to work harder, and they’ll be successful. Why is it that we never talk about what genuine thriving looks like?

Organizations must focus on the success *and* well-being of Black women to facilitate thriving.

Is there anything we can do for Black women that ensures thriving instead of surviving? 

What does it mean to “thrive”? The concept of thriving is usually thrown around loosely and rarely digs into what it means.

There’s no more room for old thinking.

Too many workplaces follow an unconscious bias that holds back Black women, who are already up against a long root of systemic racism and sexism.

Think about this question:

Is there anything we can do for Black women that ensures thriving instead of surviving?

It’s time for a new way of thinking with an inclusive, collaborative approach. We need to define what “thriving” means in your organization instead of just pretending to know what it means.

When we reframe what “thriving” means, we’ll be able to move from a system rooted in identifying “what’s wrong with you” to “what are the conditions that we need in place to help you help us?”

It’s time to wake up to the best days of our lives — when you feel like you belong and your overall wellbeing is genuinely cared for, it feels empowering. It feels like you matter.

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