Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2016

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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48 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 6 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Conversations with Catalyst T hese days, creating a suc- cessful career path is fraught with challenges. Compared to even just a few years ago, work- places are now much more techno- logical and team-oriented, calling for both "hard" and "soft" skills in getting the work done. Workloads have increased, as many US companies struggle with an eco- nomically uncertain business environment, downsized staf, and aggressive revenue targets. While CEOs are paid extremely high salaries, most workers' wages have stagnated over time. In addition, a "career" is more likely to take place in several workplaces, a result of the high incidence of mergers, ac- quisitions, and downsizing. Finally, we know that women of color face more challenges than the average corporate worker in attain- ing success—they have a harder time fnding infuential mentors and sponsors, and often work in companies whose diversity policies don't completely address sexist and racist atmospheres in the workplace. In Catalyst research, we have interviewed senior women of color who have forged successful career paths in spite of the many challenges. In a sense, many of these women of color have already defed conven- tion, just by being in those positions. Te number of Fortune 500 corporate board seats held by women of color is extremely low—just 3 percent. As one Latina told us, "Tere are some interesting things at the executive level with respect to Hispanics. Tey have never dealt with someone like me. I've had people come and tell me, 'You are the frst Hispanic I've talked to and that I deal with.'" While workplace strategies such as secur- ing mentorship and sponsorship can be fruitful, a holistic approach to life can help women of color make decisions that will support both career growth and life goals. Katherine Giscombe, PhD For example, people of color are more likely than their white cohorts to be very involved with their extended family—and women of color, in particular, may bear a heavy family burden. People of color with strong family ties may believe that it is important to live near or with their parents and spend time with them on a regular basis. Tey may also fnancially support parents or other members of their extended family, such as aunts, uncles, and in-laws. If having enough time with your family is a priority, it is important to choose a company and ca- reer with generous work-life policies—not just on paper, but in action. You might also look for an organization that recognizes, and credits, the volunteer work that many people of color do in their communities, including work in schools and churches. Research has found that for many minority professionals, community work is an intrinsic and satisfying part of life and actually imparts leadership skills that can be transferred to the employing organization. If community involvement is important to you, try to fnd companies that have benefts that support eforts outside of work. For example, some com- panies allow employees to set aside time for volunteer activities—even a few hours a month. Other companies train employees in fund-raising for volunteer activities, and also help minority professionals access non- proft boards, thereby giving them an early opportunity to develop leadership skills they can bring back to their workplaces. Defning what is important in your life may be the best approach to fnding the right place to work. DW Katherine Giscombe, PhD, is Catalyst's Vice President and Women of Color Practitioner, Global Member Services. A holistic approach to life can help women of color make decisions that will sup- port both career growth and life goals. Point of View > ABOUT CATALYST Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonproft organization expanding op- portunities for women and business. With operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Australia, and Japan, and more than 800 member organizations, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. catalyst.org . Choose Your Employer Carefully

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