By Sharetta McLaughlin
- Nearly 40% of Black women have left their jobs due to feeling unsafe in their identity
- Black women feel they lack psychological safety in order to thrive in their career
Black women are throwing in the towel at their corporate jobs. Nearly 40% of Black women have left due to feeling unsafe in their identity. Psychological safety, the belief that one won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes, is critical in order to thrive in one’s career. Yet many Black women feel that even when they have a co-worker they can confide in, they don’t believe the co-worker will stand up for them when necessary.
Why This Matters: Black women in corporate America are subjected to intersectionality discrimination, from both being a woman and a minority. Studies have found that Black women are far more likely to face day-to-day discrimination at work than men or other women. The survey found that 41% or respondents experience others questioning their judgment in their area of expertise, and 26% expressing surprise at their skills or abilities.
Stress,when present chronically, can have significant effects on mental health such as loss of brain cells and chemical imbalances which can increase the risk of suffering from mental illness. Stress causes physical illness also. Among those is heart disease, which along with strokes are the leading cause of death for Black women, according to the American Heart Association.
Being a Black woman myself, it has been said that I am strong when I express my concerns about management. Only to be called intimidating, when utilizing the same skill with my peers. This was a covert way of calling me “The Angry Woman”, which many Black women have been labeled at some point in our career. When a Black woman is educated, competent, and assertive, she is deemed a threat.
Situational Awareness: The Harvard Business Review found that corporations must do more to provide safe spaces for women and in particular Black women at work. Organizations must set a consistent standard when it comes to the emotional and psychological safety of all historically excluded groups, most especially Black women who are often at the edges of those margins. Corporations have made several promises since the pandemic to be more inclusive. Trust and safety go hand and hand. A workplace will not be psychologically safe if there is no trust.
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