This April marks YWCA’s 10th annual Stand Against Racism. This signature campaign provides opportunities for issue education, advocacy, and community building amongst those engaged in racial justice work. This year, we are focused on a very important theme: Women of Color Leading Change. Now, perhaps more than ever, our country, our government, our business sector, and our movement need the visible leadership of women of color.
Despite outpacing other groups in college education, leading social progress since the very beginning, and often being the primary breadwinner in their households, women of color are consistently underrepresented in positions of leadership. Only four percent of elected officials across the country are women of color – this includes federal, state, and local positions. The corporate sector is no better, only 14 percent of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies are women. And, just 18 of those companies have female CEOs; 0.40 percent of CEOs are either Asian or Black and there are no Latina CEOs. Even nonprofit organizations, where women make up the majority of employees, only 45 percent of CEOs and executive directors are women.
Fortunately, there are tangible steps we can take to change these numbers. Good public policy can make a huge difference. Fair workplace policies such as paid sick days can make a world of difference for someone trying to plan for their future. In the workplace, mentorship and sponsorship make a huge difference in how people progress up the career ladder – and leaders tend to mentor those who look like them. Workplaces can invest in formal mentoring across age, race, gender, and other differences to help level the playing field. This is especially important in White male dominated spaces such as STEM fields.
Throughout Stand Against Racism and the weeks leading up to it, we will celebrate women of color leaders from various sectors and explore solutions to the barriers women of color face. These issues are complicated, but anyone can take a Stand Against Racism. Register today for free. Take the Stand Against Racism pledge. Find a Stand event taking place near you. Connect with us on social media. Tell us why women of color leaders are critical to our future using #StandAgainstRacism!