Black At Work: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work

A research-driven look at how Black professionals on Fishbowl feel about their career progression in the face of the Great Resignation.

, Black At Work: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work

In response to the seismic social and environmental shifts of the past two years, work culture has experienced drastic change. This includes a swell of corporations setting new and ambitious Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) goals, hiring Chief Diversity Officers and creating Employee Resource Groups in order to combat issues of systemic racism in the workplace. It’s unclear, however, whether the actions taken by corporations are actually impacting the attraction and, more urgently, the retention of diverse talent. As the Great Resignation continues to unfold, Fishbowl’s 2022 Black at Work report focuses on assessing the extent of disparities in perceptions of career advancement opportunities between Black and non-Black professionals and whether DE&I initiatives are producing meaningful results in helping Black professionals feel supported and able to grow at their current companies. 

 

, Black At Work: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work

With more than 1 million professionals utilizing the platform to connect and discuss their experiences at work, Fishbowl is in a unique position to examine the state of DE&I in the workplace. Fishbowl surveyed more than 64,000 professionals on Fishbowl to get a pulse on how they are thinking about career advancement opportunities in this new era of work. More specifically, we focused on: (1) the impact of remote work on career advancement, (2) the path to promotion at their current company, and (3) employees’ relationship with their manager. We then analyzed the results to determine any disparities between Black and non-Black professionals on Fishbowl. 

The challenges and opportunities are outlined below. Overall, our research suggests that while Black professionals overall feel positive about their ability to grow professionally in the remote work era and have positive relationships with their managers, they lack confidence in their paths to promotion at their current workplace. 

What We Learned

35% of Black professionals say remote work is helping their potential for career advancement, compared to 27% of non-Black professionals.

, Black At Work: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work

Even more than for non-Black professionals, Black professionals believe that remote work offers a number of advantages and opportunities that have become invaluable. 

Black professionals on Fishbowl mention the following intangible advantages as drivers of productivity underlying their preference for working remotely: (1) A decrease in cultural microaggressions, and (2) the heightened ability to bring their “full selves” to work (i.e. “code switching” and more easily adapting to corporate expectations) from the comfort and safety of their homes. Also, as with workers of all backgrounds, remote work opens the door to more career opportunities than what was available before, as many roles are no longer location-based. These benefits and new opportunities for growth and potential advancement are likely part of the reason why Black professionals view remote work as having a helpful impact on their potential for career advancement.

 

 

Over half of Black professionals say there is not a viable path to promotion at their current company, more than then non-Black counterparts.

Despite greater positive sentiment than non-Black professionals around remote work and not feeling that their career advancement is threatened by working from home, Black professionals’ outlook on the possibilities of growth at their current companies lags behind their non-Black counterparts. Overall: More than half of Black professionals (53%) answered “no” or “unsure” when asked about a viable path to promotion at their current company. For non-Black professionals, nearly half (46%) responded no or unsure.

, Black At Work: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work

In the remote era of work, companies looking to help black employees move upward should focus on creating a promotion ready pipeline of Black talent, given their current lack of representation in the C-suite. Strong DE&I strategies involving Black professionals that build skills and knowledge will help companies stem the loss of Black employees. 

 

A large majority of both Black and non-Black professionals say they have a positive relationship with their managers.

, Black At Work: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work

The Manager-Employee relationship is an important contributing factor in determining how much an employee can grow at a company. 

Our data suggests the clear majority of both Black and non-Black professionals, 72% and 76% respectively, say they have a positive relationship with their managers. 

While the move to remote work and a lack of in-person engagement may have caused concerns about disrupting these important relationships, both Black and non-Black professionals feel they have strong relationships with their managers. 

Opportunities

Our survey reveals that Black professionals believe that remote work comes with benefits and provides the basis for an optimistic outlook on their potential career advancement. 

But many Black professionals continue not to see a foreseeable pathway for professional growth at their current companies. 

This should alarm employers contending with and seeking to counteract the Great Resignation. In light of these findings, employers should consider taking the following actions;

1. Realign corporate culture to recognize the values of Black professionals in the workplace. 

Our data shows the positive impact remote work can have on Black professionals’ career advancement while exposing the reality of their professional experience. Companies can learn from these findings and build a strong foundation for creating more equitable workplaces. 

2. Invest in the Manager-Black Employee Relationship

Overall, Black professionals (like their non-Black counterparts) feel positively about their relationship with their managers. Employers should continue to support initiatives that build further on this dynamic and strengthen healthy Manager-Employee relationships.

3. Company Leaders: Start a Dialogue with Managers and Black professionals to Identify Roadblocks to Promotion.

As our research shows, Black professionals’ aren’t optimistic relative to their non-Black professional counterparts about the potential for growth and advancement at their current companies. This is quite likely attributable in part to company decision makers’ lack of involvement in conversations with managers and black employees at their companies’. Opening up communication channels specifically for discussion and feedback on DE&I may help leadership identify where careers for Black professionals’ stall, and introduce initiatives that provide pathways upward.  

Sources

For purposes of this report, “career advancement” refers to the upward mobility of employees in their respective roles resulting in growth in job status and/or responsibilities.

“Black professional refers to a member of a Black professional community “bowl” (e.g., “Black in Tech”; “Black Consultants”; “Black Girl Magic”) on the Fishbowl platform, whereas “non-Black professionals” refers to Fishbowl users who are not members of one of Fishbowl’s Black professional community bowls. Some Fishbowl users that self-identify as Black may not be a member of Black professional community bowls, and similarly, Fishbowl users that do not self-identify as Black may join a Fishbowl Black professional community bowl. The content in this piece captures sentiments of survey-responding members of Fishbowl community bowls and may not reflect the views of all Black-identifying and non-Black identifying workers.

Fishbowl Internal Data, CQ2’21.

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