WOCA 2022: How to Ensure No Woman of Color is Left Behind

For many women of color, race and gender in the workplace intersect with other areas of discrimination like disability, age or sexual orientation. 

At the 2022 annual Women of Color and Their Allies event held in Louisville on Sept. 21 by Fair360, formerly DiversityInc in conjunction with Humana, officials from Hilton, Abbott, Toyota and the U.S. Air Force proposed strategies on how women of color can be supported in the workplace through the lens of intersectionality. 

“We need flexibility because we’re dealing with eldercare, childcare or just care for our loved ones,” said Sean Palacio, Divisional Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Abbott.

“If it’s upskilling or reskilling — there are several ways in which we approach it through our employee networks, as well as through our benefit programs that we do to ensure that we can address some of the intersectional challenges that women face in the workplace,” he added.

DeShaun Wise Porter, Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement at Hilton noted that ERGs can also be used to increase awareness of the struggles women of color face. 

“We use that as an opportunity to educate,” she said. “We have different seminars and sessions on how to overcome impostor syndrome in the workplace and biases that women will face. Then also making sure that allies are right there with us every step of the way.”

Mentorship programs can also help develop and advance women of color professionally. Paige Barton, Lead Multicultural Business Strategy & Operations at Toyota Motor North America said an effective program should connect women of color with two mentors. 

“One of the mentors will act as the navigator to help them navigate certain things that happen within the corporate culture,” she said. “Then the second person will be someone that is a match and looks culturally like the individual so that they can help them navigate those skills that are needed that may not be on the resume and also help them provide a space to share their personal experiences.”

Yvonne Spencer, Colonel U.S. Air Force said solutions will require men and women to work together. 

“You got to get some guys on your team as well,” she said. “Sometimes you gotta whisper in their ear and they will be the ones that speak to others. Sometimes who is saying it is how the message is received. I recognize that and I’m okay with it.”

Watch all the sessions from our 2022 Women of Color and Their Allies event here!


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