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Rep. Barbara Lee, center, along with Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Jackie Speier, and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, after Democratic Caucus leadership elections in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28, 2018. © Carolyn Kaster

Members of Congress, Corporate Executives and Leaders in Higher Ed Are Coming Together to Address Faulty Pipelines in Promoting Women of Color to the C-Suite

Leaky Pipes: Influencer Solutions Forum

Published on October 09, 2019

The Civic Engagement Leadership Institute for Everyone (CELIE) will convene a one-day event named, Leaky Pipes: Influencer Solutions Forum, where leaders from Fortune 500 companies, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the federal government, and the U.S. Congress will meet to identify barriers and broker solutions to recruiting, retaining and advancing high-potential women of color into c-suite positions.

“It is no secret that women of color, and particularly Black women, too often face insurmountable challenges in the workplace, which includes racism, pay inequity, and sexism,” said Anita Estell, Founder of CELIE. “What is evasive is determining the solutions to address this. CELIE is committed to being a leader in not only identifying the problems but also implementing solutions to erode the barriers that keep talented women of color from the executive office.”

This invitation-only event is co-hosted by Anita Estell, Founder of CELIE; Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, President and Chair of the Board at the National Council of Negro Women; and Dr. Lily McNair, President of Tuskegee University. The historic national convening will contribute to the development of the framework for a prototype program to address this issue across multiple sectors, disciplines, and professions, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) careers.

“Equality is not just a moral issue, it is an economic issue,” Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President and Chair of the Board at the National Council of Negro Women. “More and more women of color are the breadwinners for their households. The biases and systems of discrimination that prevent qualified women from reaching their full potential in the workplace have lasting economic effects in their communities. We are beyond the point of just talking about equality and equity. We each have a duty to guarantee it.”

Dr. Lily McNair, President of Tuskegee University, said “Black women now outpace every other demographic in educational attainment. As we prepare the next generation of women leaders we need to ensure opportunities exist–at every level and in every field–for them to reach their full potential.”

This convening comes in response to a series of studies by McKinsey Company,, and the Kapor Foundation that document the attrition rates of women of color in corporate America and note that black women are leaving corporate management positions faster than any group. In its research, the groups conclude Black women especially receive the least amount of sponsorship, stretch assignments, and assistance of all the groups studied. Research conducted by the Government Accountability Office issued similar findings at federal agencies relative to the Senior Executive Service (SES) and advanced General Service (GS) positions.

Executive Editor