This Sisters with Superpowers story is sponsored by Chevy.
Tara Favors is an executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Mutual of America Financial Group. As a human resource professional for more than 20 years, she enjoys creating and maintaining an environment where employees can perform at their highest potential. She plays a strategic role in advising leaders to ensure employees are empowered and fulfilled.
Why is it important for women of color to work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
Women of color bring a particular perspective from their lived experiences. While we aren’t a monolith, our shared experiences can further a conversation and move decisions in a different and more inclusive way. Therefore, we carry a responsibility to use our voice when we can to ensure those amongst us are fairly and accurately represented.
If you could thank any Black woman for her contributions to history and society, who would it be and why?
I have always admired Ursula Burns, who was the CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016 and one of the first Black women to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She was also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company. Ms. Burns was raised in New York by a single mom who immigrated from Panama. While we are in different fields, I would want to thank her for her drive, determination, and for setting the new standard of what leadership, especially in a male-dominated field, can look like. Beyond her work, she is also known as a philanthropist and a strong advocate for diversity within the field of STEM and on the corporate board. She has truly changed the face of business.
Why is it important for experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
Statistics state than only 4 percent of C-Suite leaders are women of color as compared to white women, who comprise 20 percent of C-Suite roles.
There are two truths I firmly believe. First, each generation should create a blueprint and a succession pathway for those who follow behind them. The second is, “to be it, you must see it.” Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of mentoring and guiding the next generation. Many of those relationships were organic and initially developed because I could see a spark in the mentee that just needed to be ignited. There is a joy from reciprocated learning.
Experienced Black women can pass on their life lessons so those who follow behind can have an easier path. Early career professionals can also provide a sense of grounding so more experienced leaders can understand the perspectives of the emerging demographic. Each touchpoint will eventually lead to the change needed to move those statistics.