Invisible No More: Empowering Young Black Women and Girls to Rise-Up as Leaders by Raye Mitchell
Black Women and Girls Are Invisible at America’s Leadership Tables and Pipelines. Here’s a Plan to Fix the Problem
“So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.”
–Oprah Winfrey, 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement
Invisible No More: Empowering Young Black Women and Girls to Rise-Up as Leaders is about helping young Black women and girls beat the odds. At its core, the ‘Me Too’ movement is about women and girls taking back our power and influence and a commitment that we will not be silenced or made invisible. Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes on January 7, 2018 and delivered a moving speech that brought men and women in the audience to their feet. She issued a promise and a call to action bolstered by a promise to all girls.
For young Black women and girls, Oprah’s speech was pitch perfect and particularly timely, not only because she is a highly visible, highly influential Black woman, but because it is our time to act. In an environment of increased hostility to gender and racial equality, it is on us as Black women to master new plans to empower our young Black Women and girls to rise-up as leaders.
From the schoolroom to the boardroom, there is a national crisis of the invisibility of Black women and girls. While highly visible, millions of Black women and girls are virtually invisible at the leadership tables of America. The number of African-American chief executive officers (CEO) is so low that we are losing the race to achieve real diversity in the traditional and newly forming notions of the C-suite.
Invisible No More. Empowering Young Black Women and Girls Rise Up as Leaders presents integrated groundbreaking insights that address the leadership crisis facing our women and girls This book is not about theory, but about a plan of action. There is an urgent need for diversity and leadership inclusion of Black women in corporate and non-corporate America. The material shared inside can be used to build a substantial pipeline of leaders that position Black girls to move forward.
In this book, Raye Mitchell, Esq, an accomplished Harvard Law School attorney and power and influence expert-turned philanthropist, and fierce advocate for women and girls, presents a comprehensive deep dive into how to solve this on-going crisis of invisibility by answering two critical questions; How did we get here? What do we do to rise-up and lead forward?
Focused on assisting millions of women, girls, and leaders across all sectors to disrupt the status quo, this book presents a blueprint of much-needed paradigm shifts to address the source of the leadership crisis facing corporate and non-corporate America when Black women are excluded from the leadership table and the C-suite. If we want to solve the leadership crisis that is keeping Black women invisible at the highest levels of leadership, we have to repair the leaks in the foundation and pipeline of how we engage young women and girls.
Black women and girls are derailed at the beginning of the leadership pipeline, and those that make it in loose ground with every step.
On January 7, 2018, in her memorizing and worldly acclaimed acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Award, Oprah Winfrey issued a promise of a new day. Invisible No More is a plan of action that acts on that promise of “Me Too” for inclusion and participation at the leadership table for young Black women and girls and to help create that new day where the leaks in America’s leadership pipeline that have left young Black women and girls falling through the cracks are forever plugged.
Chapter Excerpt: Invisible No More
Author’s Note – “We See You”
“This is for all the women, women of color, and colorful people whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. But I want you to know that I see you. We see you.” Tracee Ellis Ross, 2017 Golden Globe winner for her role in ABC’s Blackish
On October 4, 2017, Sgt. La David Johnson, along with three other U.S. soldiers, was killed in action in West Africa when Islamic State militants attacked them in Niger. His body was flown back to the United States on Tuesday, October 17. Sgt. Johnson was a Black man who left behind a young widow with two young children and a third on the way. His widow, Myeshia Johnson, was only twenty-four years of age. Not so soon thereafter, the forty-fifth President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, called her. Rather than deliver culturally responsive condolences to the young widow of a fallen solider killed in the line of service, Trump utilized the power of his office to disrespect the Black woman and her family. Mrs. Johnson found the tone and content of the condolence call from the commander-in-chief to be disrespectful. She felt unheard and disregarded. In response to sharing her account of events surrounding the ill-fated call, Trump, again utilizing the power of the U.S. presidency, effectively called the widow a liar in public.
This lack of cultural humility, sensitivity, and civility is astounding yet sadly unsurprising. Make no mistake! Young Black women and girls are invisible and under siege in all sectors of society. It seems there are few safe spaces for young Black women to be heard or validated.
We, as Black women and girls, are being silenced, and we are losing inter-generational connections, intra-generational connectivity, as well as our visibility. The general gender uprising, which calls for more women to advance in leadership and gain access to the C-suite, is not about increasing the number of Black women or women of color in leadership positions. The fight for gender equality is not about us as Black women. We are only supplemental to the conversation, and for the most part, our perspectives are, at best, left out of core leadership decisions .
These observations are not merely an academic, ‘feel good’ moment. Corporate and non-corporate America faces a national crisis today. The number of African-American chief executive officers (CEO) is so low that we are losing the race to achieve true diversity at the leadership table and in the C-suite. Shockingly but unsurprisingly, no Black women have run Fortune 500 companies since Ursula Burns retired as Xerox’s CEO in January 2017. None. After American Express’s Kenneth Chenault retires in February 2018, there will be only three Black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies: Ken Frazier of Merck, Roger Ferguson of TIAA, and Marvin Ellison of J. C. Penney.
The lack of Black women at the C-suite level indicates a persistent problem in how we develop and groom future leaders. Corporate America is a microcosm of America itself. Structural barriers assign certain values to preferred groups and disadvantage and exclude Black women and people of color not included or invited in the group on the rise. This book captures and documents the reality of the insidious systemic, structural, and institutional barriers firmly entrenched in our system of leadership preparation. Misperceptions about Black people abound, and race and gender discrimination are well documented in a country founded on the premise of White female power, privilege, and preference, leading to the suppression of Black women and girls and perpetuating myths of delegitimization.
Broadening the Base. Building the Pipeline.
Invisible No More: Empowering Young Black Women and Girls to Rise-Up as Leaders, is intentionally focused on creating an engaging plan of action to change the game for our young Black women and girls. This book proposes asking and answering three questions, but first I must provide a word of caution—my thoughts are intended to be provocative and spark difficult follow-up conversations.
Invisible No More. Empowering Young Black Women and Girls Rise Up as Leaders does not merely analyze how and why the status quo persists but provides solutions for forward thinkers in corporate and non-corporate America to reverse these trends and champion young Black women and girls to not just lean in but rise up. Almost all competitive organizations in sports, arts, and other sectors employ talent scouts, who build and maintain pipeline programs, build early relationships, and nurture talent. Invisible No More is a plan of action to usher in new thinking and new actions to build the pipeline of Black women leaders at the c-suite level.
Invisible No More speaks to the needs of Black women and girls who seek the traditional corporate c-suite path and as importantly, for those that do not seek the traditional corporate c-suite career path. These women instead elect to define their success based on their net social impact and contributions. In reality, the true “c-suite” for these women and girls is connected to another set of Cs—the ability to be competitive, confident, and competent, and contribute as change leaders and independent entrepreneurs in charge of their own futures. Regardless of the path chosen, the need is urgent now.
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© 2018 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Raye Mitchell. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
About the Author
Raye Mitchell is on a mission. Mitchell is committed to being part of the amazing journey and united efforts to help young Black women and girls assert their power and their presence. For far too long their voices have been muted, their stories ignored and their experiences have been rendered invisible. Mitchell wants to help build bridges and lend to a positive effort to find peace and common ground based on mutual respect, equality and share visions of justice and inclusion.
Mitchell is the founder of the New Reality Foundation, Inc., and CEO at the Winning Edge Institute Inc. She is a power and influence expert, attorney, author, speaker and activist. Mitchell is a member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund network providing legal support for women and girls affected by harassment. Mitchell has received national acclaim for her work mentoring women and girls of color to help them beat the odds and excel as leaders.
Mitchell is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California (USC), the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy (B.S.) and the USC Marshall School of Business (MBA). She is a native of Los Angeles, California. Website: www.DrRayeMitchell.com