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Double Jeopardy for Black Women in the Workplace

By February 12, 2024No Comments

The workplace is meant to be where no harm is done to employees. Inequality is nothing new for women in the workplace, yet Black women have unique experiences. Black women experience stereotyping as a minority in the workplace, such as sexism or racism. This can lead to Black women hiding their personalities and more difficulties.  From racial bias, lower income, racial trauma, and corporate post-traumatic stress disorder, these women are marginalized. Let’s dive deeper into what exactly Black women face at work.

Income for Black women is statistically lower compared to others.

  • Black women comprise 7% of the workforce but account for 12% of minimum-wage earners.
  • Black women are almost twice as likely as white men to be worried about paying for basic needs without going into debt.
  • 40% of Black women say they need to provide more evidence of their competence, compared to 28% of white women and 14% of men.

Stereotyping is a generalized belief in personal attributes or characteristics of a group of people.

  • In mainstream American culture, the term “angry Black woman” has been used to describe these women as more aggressive, ill-tempered, bitter, overbearing, and illogical – catering to an inaccurate depiction.
  • In leadership positions, Black women must consistently defend their positions.
  • Black women’s hair is 5x more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.

Racial trauma is a form of mental or emotional harm caused by interactions with racial bias, hate crimes, ethnic discrimination, and racism. Here is what Black women experience:

  • Feeling invisible
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Harassment
  • Chronic stress
  • Hypertension
  • Early on burnout
  • Little to no support

These symptoms lead to corporate post-traumatic stress disorder, a set of reactions that can occur in individuals who have been exposed to one or more traumatic events at work.

It is no surprise the experiences for these women in America are overwhelming with the intersection of race and gender discrimination. Historically, Black women’s job experience has been low-wage farm labor and domestic services. Most employers would only hire Black women for domestic work after migrating north in the 20th century. It was not until the 1970s that employers would exclude Black women from higher-paying jobs – resulting in limitation of work.

From an allied perspective, here are some suggestions to make Black women feel more safe and secure within their workplace.

  • Create a positive workplace.
  • Give credit and validation.
  • Listen and bring awareness to their issues.
  • Ensure resources are available for mental health and healing.
  • Engage in activism.
  • Minimize financial disparities.
  • Obtain a more diverse workplace.
  • Allow these women to be their authentic selves.