This is a frustrating picture: "At current count, there are only four Black CEOs leading Fortune 500 firms, and as of 2019, fewer than 10% of the most senior P&L leaders in the Fortune 500 were Black. Yet Blacks are getting advanced degrees in the US at a higher rate than ever before. More than 2 million Black Americans aged 25 or older currently have advanced degrees. However, instead of converging (because more Blacks with advanced degrees should equate to more representation in executive positions), the numbers are diverging"
We, CEOs, HR, all know that diverse and inclusive leadership team can increase customer bases, greater innovations, and improve financial performance by as much as 30%.
Yet Black workers interviewed for this article give insight into their real experiences of institutional racism and bias. Companies lack role models, mentors, and sponsors and weak training programmes "leave many feeling trapped—and as if job performance doesn’t matter".
At the same time you have a younger generation of Black talent coming through, who feel that "traditional career routes are not only no longer stable but also a direct contradiction to their ethos of wanting purpose and inspiration from their work". While older generations of Black talent may have felt they had fewer options particularly as today’s "start-up and digital-enabled entrepreneur environment, more options are available to younger talent".
What is particularly striking to see and helpful in our mission to change this experience is that the interviewees in this article began their careers in professional firms or corporations - It was the organizations that lost them along the way. Building a pipeline of Black leadership talent is of course about getting them in the door, but also it’s about keeping them engaged, valued, visible and motivated once they are inside.
Real change faces a simple but critical hurdle: convincing top Black executives to stay onboard. Indeed, by nearly all accounts, too many have looked at their opportunities, seen racism, and decided to opt out of the corporate world for more solo opportunities.