The high cost of success

From the secretarial pool to the executive office, female employees still face many obstacles

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According to a new study by the Center for Women Policy Studies, women of color feel ignored in corporate America. A large number say that top management lacks a commitment to diversity, fails to provide equal opportunities for advancement and doesn’t support their efforts to balance work and family responsibilities.

More than four in 10 women of color report they don’t have an equal chance for promotions with colleagues who have similar qualifications.

Over half say they have endured sexist (61%) and racial jokes (54%) on the job. To navigate often precarious career paths, these women employ a variety of coping mechanisms. One method is to play down their race or gender. Indeed, one in five believe they must play down both in order to succeed.

Consequently, many women of color use networking as a way to avoid exclusion while forging much needed alliances. These alliances become especially vital for senior managers who want to take their careers beyond the glass ceiling. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that one-third of the wo-men surveyed are considering starting their own companies. For more on black female entrepreneurs, see “An office of her Own” in this issue.