A majority of women of color — especially those who identify as Asian, Black, Latinx and multiracial — experience an “emotional tax” in U.S. workplaces that affects their overall health, well-being and ability to thrive, according to a new report by Catalyst.
Women of color, who often feel undervalued and subject to bias, are constantly “on guard” because of their gender, race or ethnicity, according to the report, “Day to Day Experiences of Emotional Tax among Women and Men of Color in the Workplace.” The report is based on survey results of nearly 1,600 U.S. professionals working in business and the nonprofit, education and government sectors.
“Women of color continue to deal with some of the workplace’s most entrenched hurdles such as pay inequities and near invisibility in top leadership roles, as well as daunting roadblocks that stifle the meaningful dialogue that would help make real progress,” says Dnika J. Travis, vice president, research at Catalyst.
“Over time, these daily battles take a heavy toll on women of color, creating a damaging link between their health and the workplace. And because of consequences associated with emotional tax, companies must begin to take intentional action to avoid possible harm to their businesses and employees’ health and well-being.”
Asian women (51 percent), Black women (58 percent), Latina (56 percent) and multiracial women (52 report) report being “highly on guard.” When feeling on guard, women of color believe they must outwork and outperform their colleagues.
Employees who feel on guard are most likely to want to leave their employers. Survey respondents who experience higher levels of being on guard are more likely (38 percent) to frequently consider leaving their jobs than those with lower levels of being on guard (11 percent).
Four in 10 Asian, Black, Latinx and multiracial employees feel on guard because they anticipate racial/ethnic bias. Multiracial women (58 percent), who identify as two or more of Asian, Black and Latina, are the most likely to be on guard due to their race or ethnicity.
Women (40 percent) were significantly more likely than men (26 percent) to report being on guard in anticipation of gender bias. Latinas were the only group to cite their gender (47 percent) more than their race/ethnicity (42 percent) as a reason to be on guard.
Despite being on guard, nearly all of women of color want to be influential leaders. Ninety percent want to have challenging and intellectually stimulating work, obtain high-ranking positions and stay at the same company.