Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Unveiling the Burnout Burden on Women of Color in Leadership

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By Marisol Solarte-Erlacher, M.A., LPC

In my pursuit of equity and diversity in the workplace, I have witnessed Women of Color achieving remarkable milestones, shattering the glass ceiling, and ascending to leadership positions.

Yet, behind their extraordinary achievements lies a hidden challenge that often goes unnoticed: burnout. We need to continue to explore the unique experiences of Women of Color in leadership and shed light on the systemic factors that contribute to their higher burnout rates.

The intersectionality of gender, race, and ethnicity weaves a complex web of challenges for Women of Color in leadership roles. Statistics reveal a sobering reality: Women of Color are more likely to experience burnout compared to their male counterparts and white female colleagues. This disparity underscores the pressing need to address the specific hurdles faced by Women of Color in the workplace.

Systemic racism and unconscious bias, deeply ingrained in many institutions, contribute significantly to burnout among Women of Color. We bear the double burden of navigating racial and gender disparities simultaneously, which can heavily impact their mental and emotional well-being.

Stereotype threat, microaggressions, and limited representation further compound the challenges Women of Color face, fostering an environment that perpetuates burnout. These women often find themselves in a constant battle to prove their competence and worth, facing higher expectations and scrutiny compared to their white counterparts.

The pressure to excel while confronting systemic barriers can be overwhelming, leading to chronic stress and burnout. Additionally, the lack of representation and limited access to mentorship opportunities further isolate these women, leaving them without necessary support systems to navigate the challenges they encounter.

To effectively tackle this issue, it is crucial to understand the root causes and implement strategies to mitigate burnout for Women of Color in leadership positions. Primarily, organizations must foster a culture of belonging. This involves actively addressing unconscious bias, providing diversity training, and creating safe spaces for open dialogue. Companies should also prioritize diverse representation at all levels, ensuring that Women of Color have access to mentors, sponsors, and networking opportunities.
It’s equally important for individuals to play a pivotal role in supporting Women of Color in leadership.

This starts with listening to their experiences and amplifying their voices. Challenging stereotypes, interrupting microaggressions, and advocating for equal opportunities is essential. Supporting self-care practices and promoting work-life balance is equally important, as it helps combat burnout and fosters overall well-being.

Society must recognize, validate, and support the invaluable contributions of Women of Color in leadership positions. By breaking down the systemic barriers that perpetuate burnout, we create a more inclusive and sustainable future for all. It falls upon us to dismantle the glass ceiling and ensure that Women of Color can thrive without sacrificing their well-being.

In conclusion, the burnout burden on Women of Color in leadership positions is a critical issue that demands our attention. By understanding the unique challenges they face and implementing targeted strategies, we can create a more equitable and supportive workplace environment.

Let’s stand together and affirm that achievement is important but sustaining the work and well-being of Women of Color is primary.

We need to continue to strive towards a future where burnout is not an obstacle on our path to success. Together, we can shatter the glass ceiling and forge a path towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.


Marisol Solarte-Erlacher, M.A., LPC, is a speaker, trauma expert, and resilience consultant with a 20-year career in mental health and human services. Noted for fostering change in individuals and organizations, she champions Latinx/e communities through bilingual and culturally-resonant services. Marisol has made significant contributions to Colorado’s public health and has supervised counseling students at the University of Colorado at Denver. She hosts ‘Resilience and Resistance,’ a celebrated podcast highlighting successful Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color, is one of the 2023 Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business, and was a finalist for the Denver Metro Chamber Business of the Year Awards 2022. Currently, she provides training to help companies and organizations manage chronic stress, reduce burnout and build resilience.

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