Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Bisk College of Business

First Advisor

Vicky W. Knerly

Second Advisor

Theodore Richardson

Third Advisor

Denise V. Siegfeldt

Fourth Advisor

Marshall A. Jones


This study sought to explore the role of soft skills in African American women's ascension to corporate leadership as they navigate and overcome barriers. The disparity of African American women in corporate leadership is longstanding. African American women's corporate American experience is distinct and often fraught with difficulties. In order to overcome the obstacles they encountered while pursuing executive leadership, this study investigated if soft skills were thought to be a crucial skill required. The study fills a gap in research that addresses African American women specifically. Previous studies have addressed the barriers that African American women face in corporate America while omitting the discussion of strategies to overcome these barriers. Previous studies have also discussed the plight of women in corporate America without a lone discussion of African American women. This study utilized the phenomenological qualitative approach to understand the lived experience of African American women in corporate America as they ascend to corporate leadership. The researcher interviewed twenty participants to collect data. Through data analysis, themes emerged that addressed the role of soft skills in African American women's ability to ascend to leadership and overcome barriers. The research findings suggest that soft skills play a vital role in African American women's ascension and ability to navigate barriers to corporate leadership. The implications of these findings show that African American women’s soft skills are individual KSAOs that serve as man capital resources that add value to organizations. Therefore, organizations must recognize and foster the value of African American women in leadership.


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