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Leadership coaching strategies for Black women leaders who code switch: avoiding linguistic profiling career boundaries

Angela Danielle Carter (Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Stephanie Sisco (Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 21 March 2024




This case study, within the context of boundaryless and protean career development frameworks, investigates linguistic profiling and how code-switching is used to mitigate its impact on Black leaders during their careers. The experiences of Black women coaches and the coaching support they offered Black women clients in code-switching, leadership and career advancement are described. The value of leadership coaching when used to navigate these career progression challenges is emphasized.


The study employed a multiple-case study approach of two Black women leadership coaches.


The findings of this study illustrate the understanding of code-switching and the coaching techniques employed by two Black women leadership coaches. Sage focused on educational strategies, offering historical contexts and resources, while Khadijah leaned on empathy-driven methods, using storytelling to evoke reflection. Both coaches emphasized creating safe spaces for open dialog, encouraged clients to reconsider their actions and values regarding code-switching challenges and sought to prompt clients towards authenticity while navigating career spaces effectively.

Practical implications

Additional strategies for coach practitioners include cultivating trust and a safe environment; active listening; challenging biases and assumptions; contextual understanding; empowering authentic self-expression; fostering skill development; challenging stereotypes; promoting autonomy and flexibility and adopting cross-cultural sensitivity, humility and competence. These practical coaching strategies bridge the gap in career development research by demonstrating how race-conscious strategies can promote workplace inclusivity and promulgate career development.


The study underscores the problem of linguistic profiling, the complexity of code-switching and implications for Black women navigating their career journey within professional spaces. It highlights the significance and value of tailored leadership coaching strategies to promote career advancement. This study addresses the gap in career development research related to linguistic profiling avoidance strategies for workplace inclusivity.



Carter, A.D. and Sisco, S. (2024), "Leadership coaching strategies for Black women leaders who code switch: avoiding linguistic profiling career boundaries", Career Development International, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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