mage of Pam Viscione on a gray wavy background.

Dissertation Watch: Exploring the Career Advancement Experience of Black Women on Their Journey to Executive Levels

Dr. Pamela Viscione, PhD in Leadership and Change alum, published her dissertation titled, Exploring the Career Advancement Experience of Black Women on Their Journey to Executive Levels in Large American Corporations.

Corporations began hiring Black people into management positions in the 1960s and 1970s following the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964), which made it unlawful to discriminate in hiring based on race, gender, religion, or country of origin. Black men were the first to benefit from this change in the law and Black women began to appear in entry-level management roles in the 1980s. Forty years later, there have only been four Black women CEOs in the Fortune 1000, the largest American companies based on reported revenues. This level of representation is closer to zero than 1% despite over 6% of the American population self-reporting as Black or African American women. This study aimed to explore the career advancement journey of Black women who achieved the executive level in Fortune 1000 companies to identify what events were most critical in helping or hindering their career advancement.

The study consisted of 20 participants, Black women who had achieved executive level in Fortune 1000 companies with a minimum of 15 years of management experience. The analysis of the data revealed two over-arching themes across the participants: the experience of being the first and/or only woman, Black person, or Black woman and a small group of sustaining beliefs shared by the Black women. These beliefs served to sustain them over their career advancement journeys. Consistent with the critical incident methodology, the antecedents or what led to the incidents, the incidents themselves, and the outcomes of the incidents were all analyzed for themes. The study data was reviewed to identify practical implications and recommendations for Black women leaders, people who advocate for Black women in leadership, leadership in companies, and people in diversity, equity, and inclusion positions.

Dr. Viscione worked for a Fortune 50 company for over 35 years in multiple locations in the United States and western Europe. Her work experience focus was global supply chain management and operations management. It included being a plant manager, coaching plant managers, leading multiple global teams, including living abroad, acquisitions, joint ventures, and divestitures, and quality assurance, including food and drug products. Viscione worked at an executive level for over twenty years and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Princeton University and two master’s degrees in leadership and change, one from Northern Kentucky University and a second from Antioch University. She is an active board member for the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Every Child Succeeds in southwestern Ohio/northern Kentucky, which enables the success of infant to three-year-old children and their families, and the business school at Northern Kentucky University. Viscione is the CEO and president of her consulting company, Leadership and Change Consulting, LLC.

Read more about Dr. Viscione and her dissertation Exploring the Career Advancement Experience of Black Women on Their Journey to Executive Levels in Large American Corporations here.