Continuing the dialogue about white privilege in the workplace, I want to talk about the problems women and people of color have advancing.
To advance, you have to have the right assignment that gives you maximum exposure to key decision makers. In order for women and people of color to be recognized for advancement, companies must become proactive and strategic with regard to creating pools of talented, high-potential workers who serve as a pipeline for promotion.
The problem is that many companies do not leverage their high potential pool to maximize their ability to advance diverse talent. They clearly put them on a path of development, but without follow-through these strategies are ineffective.
Who is responsible for making sure these strategies are intentional? I believe accountability belongs to both the manager and their leadership. I don’t believe access to key decision-makers is deliberately denied, but it is systemically overlooked, so it is necessary for companies to have focused initiatives to make sure the succession process is intentional.
What are the elements of an intentional strategy? Great question. Companies need an internal dedicated executive recruiter who understands the nuances of executive hiring. When identifying external talent, they should outsource to boutique, minority-owned firms that have a focus on diversity recruiting.
Intentional activities also include: 1) requiring managers to diversify their hiring slates with metrics and accountability for the promotion of women and diverse talent; 2) ensure that high-potential pools are being provided with assignments that have high exposure to the right people; 3) provide executive leadership training;4) provide mentoring; and 5)provide access to sponsors. Sponsorship is the single most critical component for advancement that can be offered to women and people of color.
Before I share the data from DMBA’s index, let me say this: Intentional strategies are not meant to guarantee anything. Everyone, including non-Hispanic white males, has to work hard and prove himself or herself for the prime opportunities. Intentional strategies are designed only to provide exposure, access, and assignment to all of those that qualify.
The DMBA 2015 Inclusive Leadership Index illustrates deliberate strategies and methods companies have engaged in to prepare and advance their talent:
• Best in class companies promote 40-50 percent of their high-potential talent while the marketplace promotes less than 10 percent of their high-potential talent;
• 98 percent of managers participate in informal and formal mentoring programs;
• The most popular mentoring type is group mentoring, with 75 percent of companies engaging in this format; peer-to-peer is next, with 60 percent of companies engaged in this format.
• 55 percent of all executives have sponsors; 45 percent of them are non-Hispanic Whites;
• 84 percent of companies reported requiring diverse slate of candidates as part of efforts to ensure promotion and access for diverse talent and women. However, less than 10 percent have metrics to measure impact and effectiveness.
Because advancement beyond managers, directors, and vice presidents continues to be a major issue in corporate America, intentional advancement strategies have become leading practices. So the questions are: what is your organization doing to ensure the playing field is leveled? And what are you doing to ensure you are prepared when the opportunity is presented?