Diversity & Inclusion
Business development / DEI / Workplace culture

The DC region ranks 6th nationwide for women of color in executive roles

A study from the workplace equity platform Syndio measured the "opportunity gap" among managers and executives in the workforce.

An aerial view of DC. (Photo via Pixabay, used under a Creative Commons license)

While it’s still far from equal representation, a new study found that the DC area is one of the best in the nation for women of color seeking leadership roles.

The Quantifying the US Opportunity Gap study from Syndio, a Seattle, Washington-based workplace equity platform, found that DC ranked sixth in the nation in terms of the number of women of color in management and executive roles. Based on data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the study looked at how employees of color were represented in leadership roles across multiple industries and locations.

The study specifically examined “opportunity gaps” among workers, which it defined as access to opportunities such as jobs and promotions. It calculated the gap by determining how much a community is represented in executive and management jobs compared to the overall number; That rate was then compared to the numbers of those who are overrepresented in those positions — namely, white men.

According to the study, Black and Latinx women are the most underrepresented in management and executive leadership, considering what proportion of the workforce they make up. Black women constitute 8.3% of the workforce but only 4% of managers and 1.8% of executives, while Latinx women make up 7.5% of the workforce but only 3.8% of managers and 1.8% of executives. Syndio predicted that it will take 75 years for equitable representation in top-earning roles.

In the DC metro area, which includes the Virginia municipalities of Arlington and Alexandria, the study calculated a 5.16 opportunity gap for women of color. That gap is at 1.66 and 3.58 for women and employees of color in the same geographic region, respectively.

Nationally, the results differ by region, with the smallest gaps existing in Seattle, Washington and San Jose, California. In the professional, scientific and technical services category, the national rate was at 3.8 for BIPOC women and 2.2 for BIPOC men.

Still, the study did find growth over the past few years since its last evaluation round in 2018. Among executives, the opportunity gap lowered from 6.7 to 6.1 for BIPOC women and 3.8 to 3.6 for BIPOC men. For Black and Latinx women, specifically, the opportunity gap lowered from 9.2 to 8.4 and 8.5 to 8.0, respectively. Percentage-wise, the number of women of color in top-level roles jumped 11% and 5% for men.

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