North, South, East, West: Where are Women of Color Getting Ahead in Sales?


Today, there are more women holding political office, and that's important for women in the workforce in general because it signifies that women's workplace issues are likely to get the attention they deserve. Yet, many women, particularly women of color, aren't experiencing positive change in their home towns—be they large or small. In some areas of the country, however, women are getting ahead in the workplace in industries like sales and showing signs of economic improvement. For women of color, it's important to take note of these geographic areas—typically large metro areas—that offer greater opportunities than other parts of the U.S.

Think in Terms of Cities

Before you pack up and head to the East or West coasts, you should note that each section of the country is home to some dismal places for working women in general and women of color in particular. If you're hunting for a new sales jobs in cities like Detroit, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Cleveland, or Salt Lake City and not finding anything worthwhile, it may because these cities have some of the worst reputations as far as working women go. These cities have failed to provide working women with many protections—protections for working mothers and protections that support equal pay. That isn't to say there are no great jobs and great employers in these cities, but you'll have a tougher time finding them—and you can expect serious competition to secure them.

On the other hand, there are cities that show great promise where women of color in sales are concerned. These cities promote various protections for working women and have demonstrable proof that women of color are succeeding economically. In addition, there are several states that already offer protections for women who are pregnant or have children, for example, but are actually expanding those protections.

Washington D.C.

The nation's capital is one of the places where women of color are succeeding economically and experiencing greater protections in the workplace. First of all, Washington D.C. has more women in management (43.8%) than other top cities for working women. It scores high for parental and pregnancy workplace protections and boasts a high rate for women who receive employer-based health insurance and other benefits. According to Inc, women entrepreneurs of the DC metro area are responsible for their firm's high growth rates. As a diverse city, women of color stand to benefit from its inclusive environment as well as the protections that benefit all women.

Another factor that makes DC so compelling is that it is where legislative change happens. It is home to women's organizations and partnerships for the advancement of women. The city also hosts major business events geared for women.

San Francisco

San Francisco routinely makes lists of best places for single women of color and for working women in general. San Francisco does not have a large African-American population, but nearby Oakland does. According to statistics, women experience a relatively low unemployment rate and 42.2% women have management status in the city. San Francisco also features many sales positions in multiple industries ranging from high-tech products to medical supplies. California cities like San Francisco, San Diego, and Sacramento also feature better protections for women who are mothers than many other regional cities.

Do You Like Cold Weather?

If you're one of those women who loves a four-season climate, there are a few northern cities to keep in mind if you don't mind moving to obtain a great job. Minneapolis, MN; Providence, RI; and Boston, MA, each have a positive reputation where working women are concerned. These cities have a high amount of sales positions open at any given time and boast low female unemployment rates, a high percentage (compared to other cities nationwide) of women managers, and an outstanding level of protection for working mothers. If you don't like snow but can tolerate rain, you might also check out the sales job scene in Seattle which can boast similar protections and greater opportunities for working women.

The South, Well, Not Quite

If you're currently based in the South, take a good look at Baltimore. Technically—no, Baltimore isn't a Southern city, but this Mid-Atlantic city is making best-of lists for working women. And, because few Southern cities are (we'll discuss this coming up), it's a destination that should be considered. In Baltimore, more than 30% of working women are in management. This percentage reflects multiple industries—not just sales where women still have a lot of headway to make. While 30% seems low, it's actually high as far as other cities go. Working women in Baltimore also experience a high percentage of workplace benefits like health insurance and have a lower pay gap between men and women than many other 'best-of cities for working women.'

Southern Cities

The South is an interesting region to ponder in terms of working women and opportunities for women in sales. What makes it interesting is that many of its cities rank incredibly low (think bottom of the barrel) in terms of opportunities for women while nearby (relatively speaking) cities are true beacons of hope for working women of color. Bad news first: Birmingham, Miami, Houston, and New Orleans. These Southern cities are some of the worst cities in the country for working women. These cities offer, according to one report, "offer women the least favorable economic conditions, public policies, and leadership opportunities." Of note is Charlotte, NC. Charlotte is a unique case because while it scores low for opportunities for working women, it actually scores well in terms of economic growth for people of color in general. This could indicate that change is occurring and women may, at some point, be able to take better advantage of growth opportunities.

The main Southern city that routinely makes best-of lists for working women of color is Atlanta. Modern, diverse, dynamic—Atlanta also boasts a diverse jobs sector, plenty of sales jobs in multiple industries, and strong entrepreneurship. Wages for people of color in general are not as good as you'll find in Washington DC; however, that entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Atlanta and underscores its attraction for working women. According to Forbes, Atlanta's "entrepreneurship is strong, with some 20% of the metro area's black working population self-employed, the highest proportion in the nation." Atlanta is also culturally rich with its historic black universities, colleges, and museums.

Other Southern cities that are associated with economic progress and employees of color are Austin, TX, and Raleigh, NC. These cities have demonstrated rising incomes for women of color. In fact, various ethnic groups are benefitting from this upward trend in these cities.

Should you pick up and move to a brand-new city? That's question that women will have to ponder individually. But, hopefully, this discussion will help you examine your location—assess its strengths and weaknesses as they apply to your sales or business career. If you are struggling to find a great job, it could have something to do with your location. If you are open to a move, it makes fiscal sense to consider a city where women of color are thriving in the job market.