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Survey: What Black Women Want in the Workplace Is Often Generation-Driven

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Business Savvy

How old we are often dictates our needs and wants at work when it comes to being a woman of color.

Varied generations have different views on working with coworkers, being a good manager, and handling difficult situations. Google explored these differences as the tech giant supported the U.S. Women of Color in Business: Cross-Generation Study.

Bonita C. Stewart and Jaqueline Adams, co-authors of "A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive," and polling firm Quadrant Strategies examined the work lives of American women "desk workers" and students across four demographic groups (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers), four races, and eight industries (Black, LatinX, Asian and White). The study surveyed 4,300 people in 2022. Stewart and Adams have done similar study for 3 years.

"We consider this ground-breaking research as another lens to guide our internal operations," said Melonie Parker, Google's top diversity officer.

Jaqueline Adams, co-author of the report, spoke to The Root about its value and what she thinks managers will learn from it.

“Google's sponsorship shows they value our work and believe our insights can improve management across industries,” she said.

Adams says she and Stewart were the only black employees for most of their careers. By helping organizations understand the effects of cultural and generational diversity on productivity, she believes they can establish and keep more diverse teams.

“People of color between 19 and 27 are about to dominate the workforce, according to the census. Millennials and Gen Z are poised to take over. That's why we should consider their job and workplace views.”

"The Only" Speaks Truth to Power

Millennials aren't scared to bring up workplace prejudice, which is a defining trait. 61% of Black Millennial women feel fine addressing race. This contrasts with past generations, who were told to blend in. The Crown Act, just passed by the House of Representatives, protects persons from unfair treatment based on their hairstyle.

Even though many Millennials of color work alone, they speak up. Black women were the only person of their race in the workplace 46% of the time. 55% of Millennials are the sole person of their race at work. In a post-George Floyd context, Stewart and Adams found this "onlyness" to be highly distressing. Lack of diversity makes some women feel isolated and criticized at work. 32% of Black women and 16% of White women said their job is scrutinized based on ethnicity or gender.

"Onlyness" hasn't affected Black women's willingness to collaborate with coworkers. 53% of Millennials, 67% of Gen Xers, and 76% of Boomers indicated they would mentor "anyone who begs for help, regardless of race or gender."

Diversification Boosts Profits

Adams and Stewart want managers to know that a varied workforce will boost performance and profitability as the world becomes more diverse. The best team leaders can handle diverse cultural and generational teams.

"We often talk about cultural intelligence and fostering belonging and well-being. My generation never discussed it. They're special. They'll move because they're confident and smart. They know alternatives, which is a concern for managers and an opportunity for VCs.

Black Women Are Independent

As more women of color choose entrepreneurship and side-hustles over unappreciated jobs, firms that aren't inclusive could suffer. J.P. Morgan says black women are the fastest-growing U.S. entrepreneurs. More Black respondents (32%) than White respondents (14% in 2020) said they formed or co-founded their current firm. 68% of Black Millennials indicated they could easily find another job if they couldn't start their own business.

Adams thinks managers will use the entrepreneurial mindset of women of color when her study's results are released. "Emphasizing exceptional managers may make the workplace more productive for everyone,” said Adams.

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