Whether we are talking about the arts, sciences, or even the highest level of politics, Black women are excelling as professionals, mothers, wives, sisters, and just about any category you can think of. It’s important to recognize the heights that a Black woman can reach when she’s determined to fulfill her potential at the highest level and isn’t deterred by limits.
Limits have been attached to Black women for far too long, limits fuelled by misconceptions, sexism and, at times, hatred. The irony is that Black women are often (stereotypically) branded as too strong and intimidating, yet are dealt with in those ways by a system that’s supposed to protect them, sometimes with a harrowing effect. Just ask the families of Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland about how young Black female leaders were cut down because of these overplayed stereotypes.
Black women in leadership should be more commonplace. And, while strides are being made, it’s time to have some tough conversations about why this progress has only gone so far. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to highlight the contributions and capabilities that Black women bring to the forefront in leadership roles.
Untaught Black History Affects Perception
Black women were built to lead since ancient times. Egypt’s second-ever recorded female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and the queen of Ancient Egypt, Nefertiti, each ruled during the 15th and 14th century B.C. respectively. If you were in Black history classes and never heard of them, it’s because there have long been disputes over each woman’s ethnicity. But, make no mistake, they were Black queens through and through who haven’t been accurately portrayed in history in terms of their ethnicity and impact.
Black female leadership is powerful and effective. More exposure is needed to present Black women in a better light, showcasing their impact, intellect, and versatility. Every teacher, every Black history enthusiast carries a big responsibility to elevate Black women, to present them as equals to their male counterparts and not just the famous ones ranging from Harriett Tubman to Michelle Obama.
Every Black woman poised to make a significant impact on society should be highlighted, helping to break down the stigma of anti-Black racism that has persisted for the longest time.
Black Female Leaders are Game Changers
When an organization fails, Black female leaders are evaluated more harshly compared to Black men, white men, and white women. This is what Black feminist activist Frances M. Beal coined the “double jeopardy theory” (being Black and a woman), or what is known as intersectionality. One Harvard study used a seven-point scale and found that Black women in leadership positions were being blamed for a lack of productivity in organizations. This shows you the fight they consistently face. Heck, when you look at Fortune 500 companies, there are only four Black CEOs running them and none are women.
Black female leaders are phenomenal when given the chance and the stats prove it. Biases from executives and other high-level talent have led to lower representations of disadvantaged groups. However, those groups, especially Black women, have a higher, proven talent level compared to other groups. Literally, the problems lie with the people put in charge to hire them.
Black women’s voices aren’t being heard and, like in the case of Sandra Bland or someone else poised to lead in a big way, are permanently silenced. Over time, Black women have proven that, in the business world, in music, and other fields, they refuse to settle, refuse to be silenced, and will never consider themselves less than. That is leadership in its purest form.
Why Should You Hire Black Women for a Leadership Role?
A lot of Black women are bypassed for senior leadership positions due to gender and racial bias. Change cannot be accomplished if business leaders don’t have tough conversations to admit when they perpetuate these biases.
As mothers, teachers, and as people who have been victims of anti-Black racism and white privilege all too often, Black women possess a unique advantage. They’ve learned how to become fearless. The fact that they are Black and women actually make them stronger candidates for positions of leadership. They know how to command attention without ego yet with conviction, know how to speak up when they need to get your attention, yet speak calmly and lead teams to ease tension and solve problems. Black women have been strong voices for social justice and persistent in the fight for equality.
And, whether it’s Vice President Harris in the White House or small business owners who have elevated their brands to impressive heights, the record shows that Black women in leadership are a perfect fit. Elevate the Black female leaders you identify within your organization at all levels, give them opportunities to lead, and watch them soar.
Tough conversations like these will lead to you getting uncomfortable, but they’re necessary to address essential issues like these. Embrace that discomfort in order to learn, make the best business decisions, and see your organization thrive. Start by having a Tough Convo today and learn why this is so important.