Our fearless leader Yael is speaking at the 21st Annual Columbia Women in Business Conference this Friday on the panel CSR: Balancing Shareholder Interests and the Public Good. The CWIB Conference is an annual event that highlights the accomplishments of women in business.

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I am reminded how important and special these conferences are as I prepare myself to learn from such incredible women. While women are now the majority of the workforce, it’s no secret that women are severely lacking in leadership roles in the workforce.

Something we do tend to forget when reading these statistics is how they breakdown when you consider race and ethnicity. Unfortunately, it’s not a pretty picture.

Statistics on Women in the Workforce*

  • 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOS are women.

  • Women hold 14% of executive officer positions.

  • Women hold 16% of board seats.

  • In 1970, Women were paid $0.59 for every dollar men made. Now it’s a whopping $0.77.

Statistics on Women of Color in the Workforce*

  • 4 or 0.8 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOS are women of color.

  • Women of Color hold 3.3% of board seats.
  • In 2012, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies had no women of color board directors for the fifth consecutive year.
  • Black women and Hispanic women make 70 cents and 61 cents, respectively.

  • Women of color are twice as likely as their white female counterparts to be employed in lower-wage sectors.

  • In 2007 5.6 percent of black women and 4.8 percent of Latina women were in management positions.

However, it’s not all bad news.

Women of Color in the Workforce*

  • Currently 1.9 million firms are majority owned by women of color, generating $165 billion in annual revenue and employing 1.2 million people.

  • Latina-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market, and are starting up at six times the national average.

  • Currently, 1 in 10 of all women-owned businesses are owned by Latinas.

  • Black women are starting businesses at three to five times the rate of all businesses.

  • Companies started by African American women grew nearly 67 percent between 2002 and 2007.

I'm looking forward to discussing this issue on Friday with my fellow peers. These conferences are always encouraging and I love engaging with like-minded women but there is still a lot of work ahead of us. - Ana

[*Sources: Sheryl Sandberg and American Progress]