#Next20 and Verizon’s BOLD Sister 2 Sister present Black Women Lead.

By: Marie McGehee

The history-making triumphs and challenges that Black women face in business and society.

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Whether it’s being at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development, creating and leading a global racial justice movement, mobilizing millions to cast their vote, a historic ascension to the Vice Presidency of the United States, or delivering an inspiring poem on a global stage - Black women continue to be at the forefront of driving change for a better tomorrow.

Despite these extraordinary achievements, as Vice President Harris said “Black women are too often overlooked and yet are asked time and time again to step up and be the backbone of our democracy.”

Driving the news:

And significant barriers remain. Today, there are no Black women in the U.S. Senate. In the private sector, a recent LeanIn and McKinsey study showed that compared to other racial demographics Black women in particular are ‘having the worst experience of all in Corporate America.’ Despite starting new businesses at higher rates than any other racial and ethinic group, Black women are being shut out when it comes to access to capital funding. And a recent CNBC report notes that women of color have been hit the hardest by pandemic joblessness.

So where do we go from here? And what does this mean for the next generation of leaders?

Our speakers:

Yahoo! Life and Yahoo! Entertainment reporter Brittany Jones-Cooper hosts a very timely conversation titled "Black Women Lead' presented by our #Next20 Series in collaboration with our BOLD employee resource group and its ongoing series called Sister 2 Sister.

Our first guest, Angela Rye, is Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm. A prominent strategist, known for her on-air commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, MSNBC, ABC and TVOne, Rye

And in the second segment, Brittany welcomes Executive Coach and Facilitator Sheri Reynard from fassforward Consulting Group.

Here’s what they said:

“Black women for the last several years have been the largest and the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in this country.  I don't know what has happened to our businesses as a result of COVID and that is some information that we really need.  Folks have to dig into that and then policy has to be shaped to ensure that Black women don't have to close their doors on their businesses.  They can stay open and they can thrive.” - Angela Rye

“The issues facing Black women in Corporate America are very real.  The LeanIn McKinsey study called “The State of Black women in Corporate America” was an amazing analysis and broke down things that were so deflating but important for people to know.  One thing I took from the report was the number of Black women that aren't being promoted and [the report] sort of talked through how that happens and why that happens. And it's because they aren't being promoted to manager and  - widens that gap.” - Brittany Jones-Cooper

“A lot of times we are gas lit. We know we have done twice the work and have done it to a high standard. A better standard maybe than other people that were on our teams even. And then we go to make those moves, we are told ‘you are not ready.’ ‘You are not quite there yet.’ And what does that mean? It sends you away with not much more information than you had before. And a lot of people bound back and forth. ‘Okay, they said I'm not ready. So I'm going to improve myself and come back and they are still not ready.’ There is a lot of at best blind spots, [and] at worst active bias to discrimination that we are coming up against. It's creating a hard line in businesses where Black women aren't advancing much beyond management level.” - Sheri Reynard

“I'm so inspired by the young women leaders, people who can see Amanda Gorman but [there are] so many more Amanda Gormans in different fields and spaces all in our communities. And whether they are solving for the climate change crisis or gun violence or police brutality or economic opportunity or school accessibility and equity - we are everywhere. We are a legion and these Black women are dope coming up and I'm so excited for them because

I know they will make it so much better for all of us. I'm not just talking about America. I'm talking about the world. I'm excited about that.” - Angela Rye

Why it matters:

At Verizon, we create the networks that move the world forward. Not only does that mean celebrating diversity and inclusion throughout the year, but also acknowledging and addressing where we have gaps both in our communities and within our walls and taking bold actions to create a more equitable future. This includes ensuring that all underrepresented communities, including women and people of color, have a seat at the table at all levels of our organization and in society - while also providing the tools needed to thrive in the digital economy. Doing so deeply enables our purpose and our commitment to being a force for growth and a force for good.

About the author(s):

As a global communications leader at Verizon, Marie spends most of her time building awareness and excitement for how Verizon is a force good and a force for growth powered by the best people and the best technology. She is also an avid fitness enthusiast, is passionate about arts & culture and is a small business champion.

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