April 24, 2024

Strategies to Advance Inclusivity at Senior Levels Through Black Allyship

Young man of color with tapered fade wearing a grey sweater is on a call discussing black allyship

When exploring the lack of black allyship in the workplace, more specifically challenges faced by women of color in advancing to senior-level positions, stark disparities are revealed in representation and pay. Despite comprising 7.4% of the U.S. population, Black women hold only 1.4% of C-suite positions and 1.6% of senior vice-president roles and earn 69 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. We can do better.

Advocating for a culture of inclusion and equity in the workplace, this article emphasizes the importance of fostering black allyship, addressing systemic barriers, and providing support and opportunities for talented, diverse candidates to succeed in leadership roles. 

Only got a minute? Get the key points:

  • Black women face significant disparities in representation and pay at senior levels, highlighting systemic barriers in the workplace.
  • Fostering black allyship and implementing targeted strategies are essential for breaking down barriers and creating pathways for diverse candidates to ascend to leadership positions.
  • Organizations must address systemic biases and provide support, mentorship, and development opportunities to empower talented individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Celebrating successes and progress, and championing diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of leadership are vital for driving meaningful change and progress in the workplace.

Challenges Faced by Women of Color

When inspiring diversity and inclusion in the workplace, one critical area that requires attention is the advancement of diverse candidates to senior-level positions. Among these candidates, women of color, particularly Black women, face unique challenges and barriers on their journey to leadership roles. 

Despite comprising 7.4% of the U.S. population, Black women hold only 1.4% of C-suite positions and 1.6% of senior vice-president roles, as reported by Lean In’s 2020 study, “The State of Black Women in Corporate America.” 

Equally, in 2021, U.S. Census data revealed that Black women working full-time earned 69 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, while white women earned 80 cents on the dollar. 

However, by fostering black allyship and implementing targeted strategies, organizations can break down barriers and create pathways for talented individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to ascend to more senior levels.

Identifying and Recruiting Diverse Candidates

To advance diversity at senior levels, organizations must first prioritize the identification and recruitment of diverse candidates. This involves casting a wide net and actively seeking out individuals from marginalized groups, including Black women. 

Moreover, companies can help expand the candidate pool and ensure equitable opportunities for all by:

Addressing Barriers to Diversity in Leadership

Systemic barriers, including unconscious bias, underrepresentation in decision-making processes, and limited access to leadership development opportunities, impede the progress of diverse candidates toward senior-level positions.

 A 2021 McKinsey report outlined various obstacles faced by diverse candidates, including:

  • Black workers in the US experience higher underemployment compared to their counterparts, resulting in an employment gap of 480,000 within the private sector.
  • Even in industries with a significant Black workforce, Black employees are more likely to earn less than $30,000 annually compared to their peers.
  • Black workers are disproportionately represented in low-wage occupations and are less represented in high-wage occupations.

In addressing these barriers, organizations can proactively foster a culture of inclusion, by providing unconscious bias training for leaders and decision-makers. In addition, implementing mentorship and sponsorship programs specifically tailored to support Black women and other underrepresented groups.

Fostering Black Allyship

Central to advancing diversity at senior levels is the concept of black allyship—individuals, particularly those in positions of power and influence, actively advocating for and supporting Black women and other diverse candidates in their career advancement. 

Black allyship involves not only acknowledging the unique challenges faced by Black women but also: 

  • Taking concrete actions to amplify their voices
  • Advocating for their inclusion in leadership pipelines
  • Creating opportunities for their professional growth and development


Beyond recruitment and advocacy, organizations could provide ongoing support to talented, diverse candidates as they navigate their journey to senior levels. This includes offering mentorship and coaching opportunities, and providing access to leadership development programs and resources. And lastly, creating a culture of sponsorship where senior leaders actively champion the career advancement of Black women and other underrepresented individuals.


Young woman of color with curly brown hair in a beige sweater working on a black allyship presentation

Breaking Down Systemic Barriers

At its core, advancing diversity at senior levels requires a concerted effort to dismantle systemic barriers and inequities within organizations. This involves: 

  • Challenging traditional notions of leadership and success
  • Reevaluating promotion and advancement criteria to ensure fairness and transparency
  • Creating inclusive environments where diverse perspectives are valued and celebrated


By eradicating systemic barriers that plague the job search and workplace experiences of diverse candidates, organizations can cultivate environments where talent thrives and innovation flourishes. Which results in ultimately driving greater success and impact for the entire organization.

Celebrating Success and Progress

As organizations strive to advance diversity at senior levels, it’s essential to celebrate successes and progress along the way. 

Recognizing and highlighting the achievements of Black women and other diverse leaders not only serves as inspiration but also reinforces the importance of diversity and inclusion as core values within the organization.

Looking Ahead

In the end, advancing diversity at senior levels requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes black allyship, addresses systemic barriers, and supports talented, diverse candidates on their journey to leadership roles. 

By nurturing a culture of inclusion, advocating for equity and fairness, and empowering Black women and other underrepresented individuals, organizations can create environments where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and succeed. Together, let us continue to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of leadership, driving meaningful change and progress in the workplace and beyond.

To discover how Talent Infusion can assist in your search for diverse talent or connect you with companies seeking diverse professionals, contact us today.

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