blackwomeninbusiness

yes, we exist.

Against the Odds

Ursula Burns is the first African-Amercan woman to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first female to take over the company from another woman. Burns started as a summer intern in 1980 and worked her way into a fulltime position after she received her master’s degree from Columbia University a year later. Her work ethic was noticed by many within the company and in 1990 she was appointed assistant to the president of marketing and customer operations. The CEO of a partnering company, Reginald L. Brown Jr. said “Most of them were white males, so to have an African American female in such a position of power, you knew early on she had great potential.” It was said by many that Burns had the potential to become CEO. When Xerox’s business started struggling Burns found ways to improve different parts of the company. She created more effective manufacturing and gave the company “its largest product portfolio in history.” Another factor that lead to Burns’ success in the company is her commitment to diversity. “One-third of Xerox’s 3,819 executives are women and 22% are minorities.” As she moved up in the company, she created programs to recognize her employees (1). Burns was named the CEO position in July 2009 and works hard to maintain the reputation of printer giant, Xerox. She was named the 27th World’s Most Powerful Women by Forbes in August 2011 (2).

Ursula Burns is pure inspiration. Her motivation and persistence got her the recognition she deserved. In a speech that she gave to a YMCA she said “I’m in this job because I believe I earned it through hard work and high performance. Did I get some opportunities early in my career because of my race and gender? Probably.” She then says that the company was looking for diversity (1). What I respect most about Burns is her ability to “outsmart” and woe the company. She showed  those who had stereotypes that they were not true. She is setting an example. Us black women have to do this often. I feel like im doing this even from attending Chapman. We are the clear minority at Chapman, but if we were bitter about being discriminated against our whole life what good would that do? We are setting the example at Chapman and I hope to inspire other black young women to come and excel where they are the clear minority. Ursula Burns has set an example for black women across the world. She’s not on the World’s Most Powerl Women list for nothing.

1. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_23/b4134018712853.htm

2. http://www.forbes.com/profile/ursula-burns/

p.s. Her cover story in “Business Week” came out on my birthday 🙂

Double Minority

My blog is actually right down the middle of two of my classmates blogs. One is titled “black is the new black” by Reanna Comstock and the other is titled “Blogging About Businesswomen” by Megan Copeland. Both relate to the focus of my blog.

In Reanna’s first post, “Herstory,” she explains the hardships that Black women have faced and according to her have conquered. She believes that Black women  “got a double whammy when it comes to the cards they were dealt.” The first, of course, for being Black in America and the second for being a woman in America. Both are minorities which make us as Black women a double-minority. Black women are at the bad end of horrible statistics.  According to an article titled “African-American women and where they stand,”  we have the highest death rate for major causes of death, including breast cancer, of any other ethnic group. Even the family structure of our homes are based off the statistic that 40% of Black women have never been married. This is compared to the 16% of white women who have never been married. Im not saying you can’t have a well family without being married, but this does have an affect on the children. Children raised by single and/or unmarried households do not receive the same cultural capital compared to one raised in a married household. There are other statistics in dating, business, etc. that show inequalities.

 I do agree, however, that we are making progress in important areas such as education. In the same article as above, the author points out that  “nearly two-thirds of African-American undergraduates are women.” This is a huge accomplishment to our black male counterparts which in my opinion is not even our enemy. I personally feel more passionate about bring my race up above statistics and stereotypes as a whole. Nonetheless, I love the awareness and empowerment Reanna explains about  us Black women in her first post.

Morgan Copeland focuses her blog on the discrimination of women in the business world. All of Morgan’s points are very valid, especially in her first post entitled “Gender Discrimination.” She explains how unequal men and women are treated in the business community.  We all know the statistic that women make less money than men which reminds me of a lecture I had in Sociology 101. My teacher explained that the main reason for this huge gap is the difference in jobs that we have. Women are usually nurses versus men doctors, managers versus c.e.o.’s, elementary school teachers versus college professors. This is not our fault. Do you really think we dont want the same equal shot as men to be at these top professions? We do. We just haven’t had the same opportunities. One point that I in Morgan’s blog is when states “I have also heard that men over women usually get promotions because bosses feel women cannot handle the stress and are to emotional when it comes to making big decisions.” This is always the stereotype of women; that we are to weak to handle anything. Oh, and lord forbid our “Time of the month” because then we just get too emotional which will affect our work. This is just one of the untrue stereotypes. Women do everything for their households as Morgan also explains. If anything, we are the queens of multitasking and maintaning our stress level. Morgan’s posts give just enough food for thought that I enjoy.

My blog, as you know by now, mixes these two topics together. It shows the inequality and success of the double-minority group, Black women.

 

Still climbing the ladder UP..

 

In the article “How Minority-Owned Businesses Can Catch a Break,” the author Amy Choi explains how most minority and women owned business dont realize how many resources they have to help their businesses. These are the same business leaders who, when surveyed, say that they intially dont want to consider themselves a minority business, but rather let their work speak for itself. Resources available to minorites and women owned businesses “aren’t necessarily new, but they’re among the most effective.”

Resources include financing. There are numerous grants and special financing from banks and private investing groups especially for minorities and women. There are also funds that arent necessarily geared towards minorities or women, but who are receptive to the idea. Networking through national chambers such as the National Association of Women Business Owners is also a resource. Local and/or regional groups also have orginaztions for certain ethnic groups. There are commerces that even offer mentoring and business planning for minorities and women. “There are three main certifying agencies for minority and women business owners: the NMSDC, WBENC, and the SBA’s 8(a) program.” These certifications can open up opportunities inlcuding more corporation clients. Resources are not limited to just these.

Now that thats out the way, my question is why does it have to be this way? Why do minorities, including women, almost always need extra services to help them succeed? Part of me says its better than nothing while the other part of me feels as if they are trying to put us in a corner and keep us there. The second is my stronger side. It reminds me of when a girl in high school raised her hand and asked why there was a Black history month and not a white one. Im not going to explain how stupid this comment is. It did spark the fact that, however, that the leaders of corporations think they can deal with the minorities and then continue on with their lives. If they give us “extra” resources then everything is fine. In the article “The Causes of Racial Disparities in Business Performance,” the authors Robert Fairlie and Alicia Robb confirm that white-owned firms have average annual sales of $439,579, compared with only $74,018 for black-owned firms. That is such a vast difference. Until these numbers are equal, the resources mean nothing.

So close, but yet so far…

Black women have came so far, but they have been limited to how far they can go. Take for an example, a black woman. Where do you see her working? What is her social status? What is her annual income? Do you see someone you know or someone who has been stereotyped?

Did you picture Oprah Winfrey, arguably one of the most powerful people in the world, or do you picture a woman at the laundromat (like in The Pursuit of Happiness)? I do not expect everyone to see a women of low social status that is struggling to be successful, but I’m sure you know that this stereotypical image of Black women is still present in many American minds. These stereotypes are still those of hiring managers, C.E.O’s, potential business partners, and the American people.

The whole reason I am writing this blog is because I feel that black women, such as myself, are still not regarded as equals. When applying for employment I see the companies anti-discrimination policy and think about why this policy is always posted on applications. Is this policy actually saying that the company follows this policy, or does this statement automatically bring attention to the discrimination that is still present today?

The accomplishments of black women in the business field, however, bring these issues to light and dissprove many of them. To me, the accomplishments mean the most. The fact that Oprah is one of the most influential women in the world shows the potential of us all. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.”

-Oprah Winfrey