5 Tips for Achieving Diversity in Leadership

A study of 60 major corporations followed 325,000 women in entry-level positions, but only 7,000 in senior management positions. The study was intended to understand the lack of diversity within executive leadership teams. Even though the study focused on women, the findings are applicable to diversity or lack thereof from all aspects of our cultural mix.

Findings of this study showed that:

  • Women were discriminated against significantly if they are parents
  • Positive comments in performance reviews for women did not lead to promotion
  • Women earn 60% less than top performers with whom they are on a par
  • Women are typically given inferior opportunities with less earning potential
  • Only 25% of assignments giving visibility to the C-suite are offered to women
  • 90% of high performing women leave because of frustration in the workplace and long hours

This study was done 6 years ago. Have things changed? No.

Disparity amongst executive leadership teams prevails. There is evidence that inclusiveness is not an attribute found in all executives.

Mentorship programs have emerged to bridge the gap in many corporations. However, these programs have failed. One reason is that, mentors selected for discriminated-against groups are not also acting as advocates. Mentees are not being promoted for significant projects that would put them in front of executives.

The study points to several practice areas that could improve the promotion rates for any group that is being left behind.

For example:

  • Actively reduce bias against women who are parents
  • Back up positive performance reviews with equitable opportunities for promotion
  • Create opportunities for candidates to be visible to executives
  • Eliminate expectations or perceptions that one group has to work harder and longer to keep their jobs or be considered for promotion
  • Provide development opportunities that match ambition

Companies are finding themselves in a leadership bind with fewer qualified candidates. I would like to challenge that thinking and ask you to start looking for talent within your company among the individuals that are not your usual candidates for promotion. Find ways to put them with your super-stars and in front of decision-makers so that they learn. And give these candidates targeted coaching and support.

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