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Why ready, able, diverse women are so often passed over for leadership roles

Mar 8, 2017

Attention businesses and organizations in West Michigan: women of color are more than ready, willing and able to take on leadership roles.

That's the message on this International Women's Day from a study exploring why women of color are so often passed over for leadership roles in Kent and Ottawa Counties.

Shannon Cohen is one of the two researchers who spent a year hearing stories and collecting data for a project called Invisible Walls, Ceilings and Floors: Championing the Voices and Inclusion of Female Leaders of Color in West Michigan. She joined Stateside to talk about the study that surveyed women of color between the ages of 30 and 60.

Cohen co-authored the study with Patricia Sosa VerDuin. Cohen said it came out of "head and heart for both of us." 

"Both of us are women of color," said Cohen, who is also part of the organization Sisters Who Lead. "Pat is Latina, I'm African-American. And we have both come of age professionally in West Michigan. So we have navigated the waters of being the first, and the only, often, both in civic spaces of service and our professional lives. And [we] wanted to create a safe space to talk about some of the people power politic nuances of that." 

Listen to the full interview above to hear about the study's findings, and learn what businesses are missing out on by not bringing women of color to the table.

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