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Working While Black

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Working While Black

Overcoming Racial Bias, Microaggressions & Burnout

Black Enterprise,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Succeeding as a Black woman in the workplace requires courage, stamina and a great support network.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


There are a million reasons why people experience burnout at work, but Black women have a million and one – particularly when they’re part of a majority-white workplace. In this panel on “Overcoming Racial Bias, Microaggressions & Burnout,” successful Black businesswomen Minda Harts, Sandra Sims-Williams and Karen S. Carter talk to host Alisa Gumbs about their experiences of climbing the career ladder and offer warm, smart and compassionate advice to the Black women who will come after them. 


Black women still earn up to 40% less than white men in the same role.

Pay disparity between white men and Black women is still common: Black women may earn around 60 cents for every dollar white men make in comparable roles. Rising through the ranks as a Black woman may mean you’ll end up in charge of a team of white men who earn as much or more than you do. If you find yourself in that position, you need to speak up. Don’t be afraid to negotiate hard. Don’t accept promises of bonuses for good performance; instead, ensure you get paid for the job that you are doing. Sometimes, leaving your job might be the only viable option, so you need to be prepared for this. Explore other job opportunities before you have to. Interview with other companies. See what’s out there.

Black women are also more likely to be in situations where colleagues or managers doubt their judgment or competence, or assume they hold a lower-level position. These assumptions don’t just occur in professional life: Once, after receiving an upgrade to first class and waiting in line for her flight, Karen Carter – chief HR and inclusion officer at Dow Chemical – was...

About the Speakers

Alisa Gumbs is the executive managing editor for Black Enterprise. Karen S. Carter is the chief human resources officer and chief inclusion officer at Dow Chemical Co. Minda Harts is the founder and CEO of The Memo LLC, a career development platform for women of color. She is also the author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the TableSandra Sims-Williams is the senior vice president for diversity & inclusion at Nielsen.

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    W. B. 3 years ago
    If gender and racial paygap would exist and I could hire black women for 40% of cost of hiring white men then I would only employ black women. This clearly isn't the case because this paygap is a myth and it doesn't exist. To be fair it exists but it's very, very small and it exists not because of gender itself or race itself but multiple other factors.