School of Education
Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)
advancement, promotion, diversity, equity, inclusion, discrimination, leadership, Black professionals
Stokes, Marcia E., "A Phenomenological Study of the Underrepresentation of Blacks in Leadership Roles in Professional Services Organizations" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4264.
The purpose of this hermeneutical phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of Blacks in professional services organizations who were promoted into leadership positions. The theories which guided this study were Spence’s theory on signaling and the Critical Race Theory (CRT). They provided lenses that were used to view the problem of access to advancements and promotions for Blacks in professional services organizations. The research design used for this study was qualitative, and the approach was hermeneutical phenomenological. The qualitative design provided an opportunity to gather the data by hearing the lived experiences of the participants and by capturing their thoughts via a video recording. The participants consisted of 10 Black professionals who work or have worked in a professional services organization in the United States of America. The data were collected through interviews with the participants, a focus group conversation, and journal prompts. The results of the research findings included that Black professionals have obstacles to overcoming underrepresentation in leadership roles, need the support of others for visibility, and should develop strategies for promotion and advancement. The research findings revealed several implications for policies that should be created and practices that should be followed by leaders and hiring managers in professional services organizations.