Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)




Judith Blando


In 2014, less than 16% of executive leaders in U.S. corporations were women and less than 5.3% of executive leaders in U.S. corporations were African American women. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of 20 African American women in senior executive positions in the Southeastern region of the United States. The goal of this study was to provide business leaders with information to recognize the value of diversity and equality in the workplace. Participants were recruited using snowball sampling. The conceptual framework incorporated general systems theory, which highlights the bidirectionality between an individual and his or her environment. Data were gathered from audio-recorded semistructured interviews that were transcribed and coded for emergent themes. The findings revealed several strategies for success among African American women, such as tolerating opposition in a male-dominated work environment, and overcoming barriers such as race and gender discrimination. These findings have implications of positive social change by increasing awareness among business leaders of racial inequalities in the workplace. Such awareness may, in turn, decrease workplace discrimination to foster a more conducive environment to promote African American women into executive leadership positions. By making the issues of inequalities for African American women more visible, this research opens the opportunity to discuss the topic and seek resolutions across all organizations.