Date of Conferral







Jean Gordon


In 2015, 0.2% of African American women were in chief executive officer (CEO) roles and 1.2% were in executive or senior-level roles within a 500 Standard & Poor's (S&P) organization. African American women's lived experiences are underutilized by organizational and human resources (HR) leaders in the development and implementation of recruitment, talent development, diversity and inclusion, and succession planning strategies. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand lived experiences regarding career advancement decision-making strategies for senior-level African American women. The conceptual framework used was social cognitive career theory (SCCT), which addresses the 'what' and 'how' of career development and behaviors across one's life span. The central research questions were about participants' decisions-making strategies used to attain senior-level management positions and how the facets of SCCT impacted their decision-making processes. Snowball sampling was the purposeful strategy used for recruiting 12 African American women who serve/served in a senior-level position within an organization. The data collections sources included interviews and field notes. By deductive and inductive coding, the main themes uncovered were leadership, family, education, authenticity, and faith. The results of this study may benefit organizational and HR leaders as they consider improvement opportunities for their recruitment, talent management, diversity and inclusion policies and programs, and succession planning strategies, inclusive of internal and college recruitment, involvement in community youth initiatives, and strategic alignment of high-level, internal organizational stakeholders.