Black Women Still Aren't the 'Mad Men'

Daily Beast writer Rebecca Carroll looks at the race relations depicted on America's favorite drama, Mad Men, and observes that the segregation and disregard of black women on Madison Avenue during the 1960s is not black history -- it's a contemporary truth.

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Michael Yarish/AMC

Daily Beast writer Rebecca Carroll watched Mad Men last Sunday night and noticed a few similarities to her own life. Most significant, she realized that the treatment of black women in the early-1960s AMC drama reflects her experience as an executive today.

Flustered at the lobby full of black people, the ad men discuss how best to handle the situation. Maybe one of the women could be a secretary, they decide, but then conclude that they simply couldn’t put “one of them” -- meaning a black woman -- out front at the reception desk.The times have changed since the Mad Men era, but for black women in corporate America, there are plenty of sad and shocking remnants.

For starters, black women make up only one percent of U.S. corporate officers, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the League of Black Women. This is despite the fact that 75 percent of corporate executives believe that having minorities in senior-level positions enables innovation and better serves a diverse customer base, the same survey found.

We are a different kind of one-percenter. We are the one percent who work hard and put in the overtime without getting promoted. We are the one percent that is the other -- the unseen.

In Fortune 500 companies, black women don’t fare much better, holding 1.9 percent of board seats, compared with 12.7 percent for white women, according to a study called Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards, conducted by by the Alliance for Board Diversity, a collaboration of five organizations including Catalyst and others.

Read the rest of Rebecca Carroll's op-ed at the Daily Beast.

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