Girls Leadership reports that while 48% of young Black, Indigenous, and girls of color identify themselves as leaders, 50% say that racism has hindered them from attaining leadership opportunities. Some adults in these girls’ lives say that the young ladies are simply not confident enough to pursue leadership roles, but we know that is not true. If girls are fully capable of being leaders and stepping up to the plate, what can organizations do to support them?
Perform a Needs Assessment
No social worker, teacher, CEO, or parent can determine what a child needs: not without asking them. Young people are fully capable of determining where there are gaps in their education, opportunities, and other aspects of their lives. Suppose you provide internship opportunities for young women. In that case, it is essential to provide the interns with mentors who have similar identities to them for them t have role models for success. Having a mentor with similar identities offers young people a safer avenue for asking questions and voicing concerns. The mentor can act as an advocate for that young person and push for culturally appropriate resources and policies, and leadership opportunities.
Advocate for Diversity in Leadership Roles
It is well known that the measures of success have often been set up for and by white men. The “markers” for success and accomplishment are changed for women, especially BIPOC women and girls. When organizations are looking to take on interns, students, or even new employees, not only should the hiring staff be from a diverse array of backgrounds, but they should have an understanding of the unique struggles BIPOC girls face when pursuing leadership positions. Failing to include diverse staff in the hiring process creates challenges that present themselves as white-normativity, communication stereotypes, and gender discrimination in addition to racial discrimination. If the hiring staff or group decides if a young woman is “suitable” for a position, we should be asking ourselves if we would be so critical if the applicant were a young white man or boy. BIPOC girls and women are capable of success and leadership, and they should be given the same opportunity as anyone else.
Lastly, organizations and leaders should work on trusting their interns and employees. Micromanaging young people only contributes to them lacking self-confidence and having fear in the workplace. BIPOC women and girls are repeatedly undermined and passed up for promotion in the workplace. To move beyond this, leaders, supervisors, and companies should take a step back and allow women and girls to lead. Trust the process, and allow the creativity of your incredibly talented team to flourish. BIPOC women and girls offer unique expertise that allows them to empower other women and girls in a niche way. Allow independence and allow creativity to bloom.