Gone is the era we called the Great Resignation. Enter: the recession. According to all of the writings on the proverbial wall, layoff season is here—and with it, the prospects of seeking and landing a new job, a better salary, and a more supportive work environment are shrinking. While this does not mean that career growth is no longer an option, you might be finding yourself focusing on opportunities for growth and advancement at your current company instead.
What does this mean for Black professionals? Did the efforts introduced to attract new hires during the Great Recession—better retention, more competitive salaries, a more diverse and inclusive work culture—have a lasting effect on the Black experience in the workplace?
Fishbowl’s 2023 Black at Work report set out to answer some of these questions.
First, we collaborated with Black Bowl leaders across different industries on Fishbowl to determine four key areas of interest for their communities:
- Performance reviews
- Mentorship & advocacy
From there, we crafted our survey questions and polled a total of 20,000 Fishbowl users. The responses from those belonging to Black-identified Bowls are highlighted in this report.
As a complement to this data, we wanted to hear firsthand experiences from Black professionals in our communities. We’d like to thank Brittanie Washington (Black In Finance Bowl Leader), Tasha Marshall (Black in Law Bowl Leader), and Colin Rice (corporate content creator) for sharing their thoughts and experiences with us. You’ll be seeing their faces throughout this post
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Part 1: Is this a personality review?
Here’s what we learned about how Black professionals receive feedback at work:
45% of Black professionals believe the feedback they receive at work is directed more at their personality.
Why this matters: Close to 1 in 2 Black professionals see their performance as being discounted in feedback. On Fishbowl, some Black professionals point to a double standard in the personality feedback they receive, highlighting the unconscious biases at work in their workplaces.
Since performance feedback is critical when it comes to promotions, raises and growth opportunities within a company, this redirection toward personality feedback instead can hinder and limit professional growth opportunities within the company (and beyond).
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Part 2: Are ERGs actually helpful?
Regarding the helpfulness of employee resource groups (ERGs), here’s what we learned:
31% of Black professionals think that their company’s ERGs provide effective support for employees. 44% do not think that ERGs are very helpful.
Why this matters: While some Black professionals see ERGs as effective resources, the majority of users polled disagreed. This challenges the net effectiveness of ERGs—one of the most discussed DE&I efforts of this decade—as a tool for building a more inclusive workplace culture.
That said, ERGs can provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, advocacy, and building connections. For some Black professionals on Fishbowl, these groups can have a role in not only career advancement but day-to-day satisfaction and support.
@fishbowlapp Do you agree with @Colin Rocker? Sound off in the comments. And check out our 2023 #blackatwork survey for more insights like this! #fishbowlapp #blackhistorymonth #preformancereview #salary #corporatetiktok ♬ original sound – Fishbowl
Part 3: Are you making what you should be making?
On the topic of money, here were the results:
44% of Black professionals believe their compensation is competitive.
Why this matters: This data also points to the flipped reality: 43% felt like their compensation was not competitive given their role and experience and 13% weren’t sure. This reflects a general dissatisfaction with current compensation across our respondents.
While the Great Resignation temporarily placed bargaining power in the hands of employee, the recession on the horizon points to stagnant wages, especially for employees who have not job switched lately.
Part 4: Will you be my mentor?
When it comes to finding a mentor or advocate for themselves at work, here’s what we heard:
55% of Black professionals believe that they can find effective mentors or advocates at their company.
Why this matters: With a majority of Black professionals indicating that they do have access to effective mentors or advocates at their current company, it seems that company efforts to build up mentorship programs have had their intended impact.
However, access is not enough. Providing the space and resources for mentorship and advocacy, and fostering an environment in which such efforts are encouraged, is crucial. How might the experience of Black professionals in seeking mentors and advocates differ from non-Black colleagues? And beyond that, how does the experience in finding time to be a mentor or advocate differ for Black-professionals?
The Black at Work Survey Series is part of an ongoing effort at Fishbowl to shine a light on the Black professional experience, with the intention of provoking thoughtful conversation, validating the experiences of Black communities, and informing positive change in the workplace. For insights from previous years, check out our study on Black At Work 2022: Career Advancement in the Era of Remote Work and What it means to be Black at Work in 2021.
And finally, a reminder: just because feedback is given doesn’t mean you have to take it.
We collaborated with Black Bowl leaders across different industries on Fishbowl to determine four key areas of interest for their communities. From there, we crafted our survey questions and polled a total of 20,000 Fishbowl users. The responses from those belonging to Black-identified Bowls are highlighted in this report.
“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. 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; though, for context, each user has access to a limited number of bowls and chooses their bowls with intent. The content in this piece captures sentiments of survey-responding members of Fishbowl Black community bowls and may not reflect the views of all Black-identifying workers.