Career & Money

Why Black Women Are Tired Of The Corporate Rat Race And Are Going To Startups

We’ve all read, witnessed, or experienced the challenges Black women face in the workplace. The impact is evident, whether it’s the super-successful entertainers we love, our “rich aunties” holding it down while still sacrificing to work hard and maintain the so-called “soft life,”moms juggling overtime, date night, and household responsibilities, or single women managing teams and traveling the world while unapologetically maxing out their PTO.

Some Black professionals have said enough is enough and there’s now a trend of exodus, with many leaving Corporate America to venture into the startup life. In a 2020 report, the Working Mother Research Institute found that 52% of Black women were debating leaving their companies after working there for just two years. In 2021, we led during the Great Resignation, reclaiming our time during the pandemic and finding out how we could truly pursue the lifestyles we wanted without settling for less.


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Women Leaving Corporate America for More

In 2022, almost 50 percent of entrepreneurs were women, a number well above the number of women entrepreneurs pre-pandemic (29%). Five percent were Black women, a rise from the 3 percent share reported in 2019, representing the fastest-growing population launching and leading businesses. (And if that percentage seems small, to give you a bit of context, that’s nearly 2.7 million new U.S. businesses.)

Another recent report, by Gusto, a payroll and benefits firm, shows that professionals aged 25 to 34 are most likely to quit their jobs for the possibility of making more coin running their own business, and mid-career professionals aged 35 to 54 are taking the leap because they feel burnt out from their jobs (46%).

Even if there are no plans to start a company, leaving a corporate job to work for a startup has been a strategic move for flexibility and autonomy that can be elusive at many larger companies or corporations. I left the 9-to-5 life for good several years ago, then went back to work for a larger publishing company only to quit and go back to the full-time freelance life, and I haven’t looked back.

All of the companies I now work with are small businesses or startups. While working with startups, I’ve been able to not only show my leadership skills a bit more, but I also have a hand at learning multiple aspects of the business I’m in, all while negotiating better pay and working with amazing women entrepreneurs in their own right.

Why Startups Are Favorable for Black Women

So what’s the draw? Well, startups often are places, where the company culture is more relaxed, innovation and creativity, are welcomed and oftentimes rewarded, and they often are launched by millennials or forward-thinking CEOs who value flexibility and vision. Some are even able to offer six-figure salaries that larger companies, for the same role, are not able—or willing—to offer.

With the mass tech layoffs—which made a diversity problem even worse, especially in regard to Black women in tech—smaller tech companies are tapping into a larger pool of candidates, presenting opportunities for growth there.


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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Leaving Corporate America

Working in startups—or launching one—is certainly not for the faint of heart, as there are very real and unique challenges (i.e. inconsistent or lack of funding, slow or reduced resources, and what some might consider a lack of job or salary security when compared with working for a corporation that’s been around for 20-plus years and has shareholders, global influence and international reach.)

Also, when thinking of lifestyle and financial obligations, especially when you have children, large-company advantages like the availability of robust benefits packages, industry prestige, and more options for upward mobility, are all very valid concerns for women who pause when thinking about leaving their corporate jobs.

While it's vital for Black women to, if passionate and led, to remain in Corporate America to fight further for inclusion, equal pay, and advancement opportunities—not to mention the unique and valuable talent and experience Black women bring to any business—startups present exciting and welcome opportunities for others to thrive, figure out their unique role in the business world, and learn skills they might not cultivate in a sea of corporate workers.

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Featured image by Alverez/Getty Images




As they say, create the change you want to see in this world, besties. That’s why xoNecole linked up with Hyundai for the inaugural ItGirl 100 List, a celebration of 100 Genzennial women who aren’t afraid to pull up their own seats to the table. Across regions and industries, these women embody the essence of discovering self-value through purpose, honey! They're fierce, they’re ultra-creative, and we know they make their cities proud.


Six months after joining Black Everywhere’s online wellness community, I remember feeling like I’d reached some sort of pinnacle. I lost a noticeable amount of weight, got my meal and exercise routines back on track, and was sharing resources with other Black folks on their own journeys. Baby, I was lit!