Building ladders to success for Black women in the workplace


OPINION: A new report by Every Level Leadership found a critical lack of formal mentorship and sponsorship programs for Black women and that access to these types of programs are pivotal to Black women’s ability to thrive in the workplace.

(thegrio) Remember the board game “Chutes and Ladders”? You win by rolling dice to move from square one at the bottom of the board to the top right-hand square. Players can move more quickly by landing on a “ladder,” which allows them to skip ahead. They can also be sent backwards by landing on a “chute”—making the road to winning even longer.

The game is a good representation of what is happening to Black women in the workforce—except that our movement up or down the “board” is not by chance. As we know too well, we encounter far more “chutes” than “ladders” in our professional lives.

Ladders are the informal factors that give us a boost in our careers—the networks that help us find jobs, the mentors who guide us on professional development and career opportunities, and the sponsors who cut through bureaucratic channels and make advancement easier.

Access to these informal factors is pivotal to Black women’s ability to thrive in the workplace. But it is well-documented that we do not have equal access to opportunities, power, and organizational resources at work.