• Monique C. Johnson, Ed.D.

Tips for those excluded from and aspiring to the C-Suite

Updated: Nov 14, 2019



According to Fortune Magazine, 5% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women, 0 African American women and 3 are African American males. There’s no easy solution to such low numbers but I admire those who are stepping up to the plate to lead. If your goal is to follow the C-Suite path, although not easy, that’s what you should do. Prepare and define your goals for yourself.


One thing is for certain, believing in yourself is half the battle.”


Bias is real and it exists in the corporate culture. Corporate leaders must become part of the solution by acknowledging the barriers and exploring ways to build relationships and bridge the gaps among diverse pipelines. The business case for diversity is not a new phenomenon and has been widely accepted. It’s time to move beyond that to embracing diverse perspectives in innovation and leadership. Corporate cultures must change. This is easier said than done but the following are a few recommendations for the individual aspiring to an executive leadership role.



Create your own support system. Find a sponsor, a leader with influence, willing to advocate for you behind closed doors. Consider assembling your own board of directors who will help you to focus on key goals and visibility that put you in the right place.


Attend events, join relevant organizations and network with other professionals to enlarge your connections.


Sometimes you have to be willing to move out in order to move up. Do your research and be willing to pursue a position outside of your current organization with a more progressive company. Pursue opportunities with companies who are committed to diversifying and have a demonstrated track record.


Lastly, working with a coach can help guide you through transitions and provide the support you’ll need. You may also want to explore working with an executive recruiter.


Disenfranchised individuals have a desire to learn, lead and advance like anyone else but it can take a toll. Protect your mindset, health, and overall well-being. Set yourself up for success by tapping into your resources and using your creativity.


I’m hopeful that the day will come when women and people of color take their position in the C-Suite as their whole authentic self, respected, and valued for who they are and what they bring to the table.

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