Cleveland’s national reputation of heavily excluding Black Women, is one of the biggest barriers to attracting talent and innovation to our region. With the backdrop of 2020’s racial unrest, many organizations have begun implementing diversity and inclusion changes internally without consulting experts on best practices.
Such changes have added to the strain that Black Women already experience in the workplace, as they are forced to educate co-workers and employers while undergoing scrutiny from those who do not share their intersections. Inequities continue for Black Women in sectors of employee benefits, career advancement, and treatment within the workplace, and from our Project Noir responses, these inequalities are deeper than just pay.
Black Women in Cleveland are routinely passed over for promotions, paid less, asked to train their counterparts, excluded from training and opportunities for growth, and penalized for utilizing benefits at an alarming rate in our community.
Whether racially motivated, gendered, or both - hundreds of Project Noir participants shared disheartened experiences with workplace inequality as Black Women are given unequal pay and too often excluded from informal job perks, benefits, and career advantages.
Access to training opportunities, mentoring, sick time utilization, and social invitations are all "perks" that are not fully regulated by a central system, therefore capable of openly disadvantaging Black Women.
43% of Project Noir respondents have reported harassment or abuse to their employer. Of those that reported, employers were more likely to fire or discipline the reporter than the abuser.
Black Women across our community experience astronomical levels of imposter syndrome and physical stress as they attempt to adhere to standards that are not required of their counterparts.
Whether it is a function of unconscious bias or concerted targeting, Black Women in Cleveland are without any cushion in the workplace.
Isolation + Professionalism
Black Women are often placed in situations where they are the only Black Woman in their department or team, a highly isolating experience.
While adhering to the construct of professionalism, they are expected to conform to ideals derived from white, cis-gendered, heteronotmative, able-bodied, neurotypical men, a straining yet impossible standard.
As handbooks across our city ban natural hairstyles for Black Women and employers push them to tone down their personalities, Black Women are forced to adapt to self-conflicting standards to avoid punishment.