The latest results of a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have many business and community leaders taking a deeper look into an apparent and disturbing truth: Black women are leaving the workforce at an alarming rate.
Take a look at some of the unsettling statistics:
- 1 in 12 Black women over the age of 20 were unemployed in December of 2020.
- 21.1% of Black women working part-time in December were doing so because they couldn’t find full-time work.
- 140,000 jobs were lost in December 2020, all of the jobs lost were women’s jobs.
- 154,000 Black women left the labor force in December 2020.
Why are Black Women Fleeing the Workforce?
With statistics such as these, many are questioning why Black women are leaving the workforce at some of the highest rates that the country has ever seen. Many are settling on an unfortunate line of reasoning: Black women may be leaving their jobs to escape systematized racism.
If the thought of that has you questioning what decade and millennia we’re living in, you’re not alone. The sad truth is that many of them still spend workdays worrying about if the way they dress or wear their hair will attract unwanted attention. Or, if the color of their skin and their gender will lead to them being underestimated and undervalued.
Black female employees feel, at best, singled out or ignored because of their race or, at worse, in danger because of it. They often feel the need to “code-switch” and downplay their authentic identities for fear of retaliation and for the sake of others’ comfort.
What Can Organizations Do to Help?
One of the main reasons CBV was created was to help organizations and community leaders find ways to root out the causes of racial inequity. As more and more people are becoming aware of this particular issue, it’s becoming clear that companies need to put forth a far better effort to make sure that the Black women in their organizations feel safe, seen, and valued.
Some suggestions for doing this include:
- Helping to create Racial Affinity Groups for them to connect with one another.
- Brave Space Building™ to have a structured space where they feel comfortable being authentic without fear of judgment or backlash.
- Educating leaders and managers on racial bias, inequity, and inclusion.
- Helping them find mentors for their career development.
- Practicing pay equity by creating transparent and equal pay scales.
Black, Bold, and Beautiful
For our communities and organizations to truly thrive, they need to be represented by everyone, and that should especially include some of its strongest members: Black women. For far too long, women of color have been relegated to the homes and made to feel as though they’re most useful and valued when raising children and keeping house. Or, if they did venture outside of the home for employment, they were made to feel as though they must fit in to get in.
The time for change has come. It’s time for Black women to take their place in business and show the world what they bring to the table. The future for business women is here and it’s bold and Black.
Allison Todd is a coach and consultant with over 20 years of experience transforming small and large businesses’ operations and profitability. Whether it’s beginning, launching, or scaling a business, Allison founded her coaching and mentoring business with the hopes of helping clients conquer their fears and build confidence to take their business to the next level.