Corporate America has been predominately white for many years. Throughout the growth of consumerism, men were at the forefront of innovation and growth. Men were the breadwinners and commuted to an office on a daily basis. Women stayed home to be caregivers and child bearers. Time has progressed, and the working industry began to encourage both men and women to work and provide an income for their families. 

Even though women are flourishing in businesses, there is still a great divide that separates the women from the men in the workplace. Women are paid less, represented less, and treated as less when joining successful businesses. Mistreatment is also taking its toll on women of color, and these women are experiencing similar injustices.

Why Are Women Being Misrepresented In The Business World?

Women work tirelessly to be recognized as valued members in the workplace but are still being overlooked. Instead of being left behind in the workplace, women have rapidly begun to open and run their own businesses. There are hundreds of female-run businesses starting up regularly. According to a study by SCORE, 47% of women are more likely to start their own business. Women are also more likely to be successful when starting their own businesses. 

In the same study by SCORE, 57% of women business owners expect their business revenues to increase rapidly.  Studies have also shown the value in female staffing, many experts agreeing that women tend to finish tasks faster than men, and women are better multitaskers than men. Women and women of color have shown their worth in the workplace repeatedly, but there is still hesitation in offering a leadership role to a woman. 

Ursula Burns started on the lower rung of Xerox when she completed school. Through her determination and perseverance, she was able to work her way up the corporate ladder, eventually reaching the presidency in the company. In 2009, Burns became the CEO of Xerox, making history as the first Black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Barack Obama also appointed Burns to the vice-chair of the President’s Export. Now she dedicates her time in pushing for more diverse representation in companies.

Women Still Face Subjection To Misrepresentation In The Workplace

Through the progression of incorporating women of color into the workplace, many difficulties have surfaced.  Women of color face more biases in the business world because of their gender and race. They also reach many difficulties when attempting to network with other businesses. Another major issue that women of color face is the lack of proper representation in the workplace. Their white male counterparts outnumber women of color. Because of this, their ideas are often overlooked or ignored.

Women of color also face a lack of mentorship in the workplace. Successful mentoring programs can benefit many businesses and hopeful employees. However, there tend to be fewer mentorship opportunities available for women. According to an article for Inc., 48% of female entrepreneurs lack mentors and advisors. While this may seem insignificant, it is valuable for women to find comfort in business ventures and to have someone to consult with business-related questions.

The Ever-Looming Wage Gap Still Divides Men And Women

The wage gap between men and women is recognized repeatedly. Women make 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.  This gap is even more prominent with women and women of color.  In an article by Elise Gould and Jessica Schieder, Black women make 65 cents for every dollar made by a white male. Hispanic women, however, make 59 cents for every dollar a white male makes. This staggering deficient shows how deep the divide goes between male and female corporate workers. 

In May 2020, the number of female CEOs in America reached an all-time high. As Fortune released its Fortune 500, 37 of those businesses were run by women. This number comes across as a triumph, but it also shows how much farther diversity needs to go. In order for businesses to become more inclusive, there needs to be more diversity in the workplace and within leadership roles. 

Burns is still actively fighting toward a more diverse corporate America. Since she retired from Xerox, she has been advocating for American businesses to prioritize women in the workplace. She has taken a lot of the business practices used in Europe and has been pushing for American businesses to follow suit. For example, European proposed a requirement for companies to have at least 40% of women on their corporate boards. Burns is also on the board of directors for multiple companies. She also offers leadership counseling to many educational and non-profit businesses.  Through the connections she still has, Burns is tirelessly working to create a more inclusive corporate America.

“I’m an advocate for change and eager to break a little glass when needed.”

Ursula Burns

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