I recently interviewed Dr. Ancella Livers, author and Senior Design Faculty of the global Center of Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC concerning Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and whether or not it applies to the experience of black women in the workplace.
When Facebook’s No. 2 executive and billionaire, Sheryl Sandberg, released her book entitled, “Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead,” earlier this year, it was sure to become a success. The back cover reveals an endorsement by Oprah, who labeled the book, “The new manifesto for women in the workplace,” followed by the raving reviews of The New York Times, The New Yorker, Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, and Entertainment Weekly. It’s no secret; everyone wants to hear what Sandberg has to say on the topic of women and leadership.
For experienced professional women in the workplace, Sandberg is actually not saying anything new. On the other hand, she is a woman who has been privileged to have education, access, opportunity, mentorship, sponsors, and coaches, all of which increased her likelihood of success in the workplace. When people look at Sandberg, they a see a white woman and it is important to recognize that her experiences are not typical of the average woman who works. From her privileged experiences, she paints a broad stroke in her assessments without fully acknowledging all of power dynamics at play, particularly when considering the experiences of women of color.
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