18th Annual 25 Influential Black Women in Business

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In April 2015, seven companies published a joint report comparing leadership aspirations of Black women professionals and those of white women. The report, ?Black Women: Ready to Lead,? showed Black women as more likely to aspire to a powerful position with a prestigious title. Unlike white women, it found, Black women perceive a powerful position as the means to achieving their professional goals and are confident that they can succeed in the role. Black women are more determined to maintain their agency, impact and social values outside of work, with 42 percent of respondents in the survey conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation aspiring to make a significant contribution to their community compared to 27 percent of white respondents. Indeed, 60 percent of Black respondents said they aspire to create something meaningful or lasting in their lifetime and 65 percent, against 34 percent of their white counterparts, aspire to be faithful to their religion.

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With these insights into what makes us tick as professionals, the report was a refreshing departure from the plethora of woebegone portraits of Black women. That is, until the word ?despite? showed up. It?s not hard to imagine what followed: We?re less likely than straight white men to have our ideas endorsed; we find it extremely difficult to win sponsorship; we have to compromise our authenticity in order to conform to traditionally white male standards of executive presence, and so forth.

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A year earlier, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women?s Roundtable also reported refreshing findings in ?Black Women in the United States, 2014: Progress and Challenges.? We?re the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market and the most dynamic segment of the electorate; we lead all demographic groups in voter turnout in the two previous presidential elections; and we lead our male counterparts in college enrollment and degree attainment at higher rates than any other group of women in the country. But even these findings were framed in a narrative of ?the triumphs and tragedies surrounding Black women?s lives.? Even in our own reporting on ourselves we can?t seem to kick gloom to the curb.

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TNJ makes a point of kicking gloom to the curb in our annual celebrations of outstanding Black women and youngsters under the age of 40. The seven companies that sponsored the leadership survey ? American Express, Bank of America, Chubb Group of Insurance Cos., The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., Intel, Morgan Stanley and White & Case LLP ? represent industries where our ?25 Influential Black Women in Business? honorees consistently exhibit their ?hearty appetite for leadership.? In addition to financial services, technology and law, this year?s honorees exhibit this appetite in business consulting, community development, education, health care, human resources, government, media/publishing, personal care, professional development, sports, other STEM fields, textiles and apparel, tourism and transportation. We leave it there.?


Profiles by TNJ Senior Editor Sergie Willoughby and Rosalind McLymont?

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Click here to view the profiles

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