Understanding that racism, sexism and ageism are sensitive topics, all readers regardless of race, sex, or age are encouraged to contribute to the discussions. Open, honest and flowing dialogue is the only way the conversation can begin to change.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Why

The Purpose & Research Question
As the world becomes smaller through technology, social networks, and globalization, organizations are evolving in the same direction. Organizations must work differently to keep pace with the changing markets. Inevitably so, organizational members are more diversified. A once undiversified organization is now filled with four generations of workers under one roof (Appendix C, Workplace Generations) and as of 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that almost 30% of the labor force over the age of sixteen is Black, Asian or Hispanic/Latino (Appendix B, Bureau of Labor Statistics). This means that the face of leadership is changing with organizations. AT&T, Nissan, and Coca-Cola are a few organizations pioneering this leadership movement. Some of these faces include people of color, women and members of the Millennial generation. Of the three, Millennials are entering leadership positions at a quicker rate than their predecessors with many becoming free agent entrepreneurs. Donna Fenn best characterizes this entry as follows:

“This generation, at nearly 80 million strong, is poised to be the largest, the most educated, and the most diverse in American history. That gives its members special insight into the largest, the most educated, and the most diverse market in history. They are also fearless about technology. The kids of the '80s grew up with computers; the kids of the '90s can't recall (and shrink from imagining) life before the Internet. And they are idealistic and optimistic -- traits that influence their perceptions of business” (2008).

Blacks represent fourteen percent of Millennials (Davis, 2010) with Black women comprising an even smaller percentage. The Black woman is a subset of the millennial generation who may identify more with being Millennial than being Black. However, the contrasting philosophies of what it is to be a Black woman versus what it is to be millennial has caused an identity crisis within the Black Millennial Woman. Past studies of Black women and Millennial Leaders have increased the understanding of both groups as standalones; however, there is not any known study that attempts to understand the Black Millennial Woman as one of the new faces of leadership. As the face of leadership continues to evolve, this study will help organizations understand the pressures that Black Millennial Women face as well as the inner dialogue this group experiences. It can be used as a consulting tool when coaching this group of individuals. Trainer Alexia Vernon is a fore-runner in this movement, specializing in responding to the unique needs of female, minority and millennial leaders (http://www.alexiavernon.com/coaching.html 2003). It can also become a development tool in Diversity and Inclusion programs for various organizations including companies, social organizations, churches, schools and so on. This study serves as a foundation for future studies that want to understand the Black Millennial Woman.

Assuming that shifting, masking, and role-playing are valuable tools for all Black women and for anyone who cares about them or the state of race and gender relations in American society, I maintain that Black Millennial Women in Leadership need other supporters to remain authentic. The leading question in this study is: How can Black Millennial Women use necessary survival skills like shifting, masking and role playing in Leadership while remaining true to their authentic selves?

Jackson, Jenny (2010). Black Millennial Women in Leadership. Queens University of Charlotte: Charlotte, NC.

  1. Davis, Bonnie (2010). “Minority Millennials are more pro-government, pro-family than peers.” Retrieved April 4, 2010. http://www.thegrio.com/news/minority-millennials-are- more-pro-government-family-than-peers.php.
  2. Fenn, Donna (2008). Cool, Determined & Under 30. Retrieved April 21, 2010. http://www.inc.com/magazine/20081001/cool-determined-amp-under-30.html

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