THANKS SIS: The Need For Black-Women Mentor-Ship in America

*This is the first iteration in the “Thanks Sis” sub-series. A series dedicated to discussing the Black Woman corporate experience from a millennial perspective* *

As a native New Yorker who also happens to be a Black woman, I can guarantee you that seeing strong, minority women in positions of power is not a rare occurrence.  However, there is still a pressing need for more examples in corporate offices per the differing levels of middle management that can exist there.

In corporate environments across the globe, Black women have been making leaps and bounds in office hierarchy as of the past two decades.  Often times- despite the many attempts to roadblock our demographic- Black women have found themselves in c-suite positions and as members of the board for corporations previously dedicated to hiring “good ol’ boys”.  

Being able to sit with a powerful, Black woman professional with the patience to dissect the ways the corporate environment is designed to disrupt mental stasis and also detail with you how its tactics bring Black women to question our own skills and talents is a refreshing luxury.  It can feel like reaching a rejuvenating oasis in the middle of this capitalist desert; she aids by confirming all your fears and helping you forget all the tropes you’re plagued by in and outside of the office.  You’re not alone and you’re not crazy!

Currently Black women exist as the most educated racial subset in America but, we are still making less than our fellow women and minority counterparts in similar roles.  There are tons of promotions and raises not granted to us, roles we are never considered for but are adequately qualified for, and events we never become privy to while on the quest to grow our networks and consumer bases due to both racial and gender discrimination.  It’s the old “black tax” rearing its ugly head again– like it was systematically designed to.  This time, it’s compounded with the gender suppositions that all working women are currently blighted with.  Because of all this- being a Black woman in a scantily-diversified office can feel suffocating.

Occasionally though the atmosphere in corporate America is softened by the mentorship, critical feedback, and special acknowledgements given by the fellow Black professionals in the office.  When you find solace and true comradery at your place of business, the productivity one can be prone to display going forward can easily be quantified and perpetuated. It is extremely evident in this case study- 68% percent of millennial workers showed improvement in contrast to workers without a mentor (32%) and there are benefits of boosted minority representation when mentorship is offered from diverse mentors as well as dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women, a Cornell study reports.

Mentoring a fellow sister in the struggle can be both powerful and fulfilling in ways that the normal rigmarole of corporate work cannot bring; and unfortunately, many companies fail to successfully initiate programs dedicated to nurturing this in everyday work environments even though there are myriad solutions and options for relief on this issue. 

There are companies that specialize in helping to bring and cater an environment of diversity and inclusion in corporations and small businesses that don’t know where to begin or what that looks like, so your company is likely doing you a disservice if they don’t have one.  Honestly- there is truly no excuse these days for any business to continue the practices of nepotism, ageism, discrimination, and intolerance with all the resources currently available and that also exist for their use online in some form as reference.

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