Emotional Tax: How Black Women and Men Pay More at Work and How Leaders Can Take Action

Black women and men have high aspirations to be successful at work, and outworking and outperforming others is the norm for many. But what happens to the minds, bodies, and spirits of Black employees when unrealistic expectations are too much to bear—if, despite their hard work, they remain set apart and undervalued?

In this study of Black women and men employees, we found evidence of an “Emotional Tax” that is levied on Black women and men as they try to successfully navigate through their careers. Emotional Tax is the heightened experience of being different from peers at work because of your gender and/or race/ethnicity and the associated detrimental effects on health, well-being, and the ability to thrive at work.

This report shows that Emotional Tax can deplete Black employees’ sense of well-being by making them feel that they have to be “on guard,” disrupting sleep patterns, reducing their sense of “psychological safety,” and diminishing their ability to contribute at work.

Findings from this study were shared by Catalyst exclusively with ESSENCE Magazine, which featured it in “Battling the Burden of Success,” an article in the November 2016 issue. – Catalyst.org


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