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How to Ensure Women and Minorities are Represented in Your Leadership

Allie Kelly

Truly diverse companies are those that have women and minorities represented in their leadership. As it stands currently, many organizations are falling short in this crucial area.
Only 25% of executive- and senior-level managers are women, representing just 6% of CEOs, according to data from Catalyst. The statistics are even more bleak for women of color, who represent just 3.9% of executive roles, with a mere 0.4% being CEOs. Furthermore, white men made up 72% of corporate leadership at 16 of the Fortune 500 companies. Gaps in representation at the leadership level are present in many industries, including higher education, technology, and financial services.

So, how can you ensure that women and minorities are represented in your company’s leadership? We’ve compiled the tips below:

Re-evaluate how you assign work

The way you assign work may be holding back women and minority employees from advancing, according to new research from the Harvard Business Review.

The publication explained that there are two main categories of work that are typically assigned at an organization: “glamour work” and “office housework.” Glamour work is the type of superstar projects and assignments that are integral to the success of an organization and showcase a person’s skills, being used to justify any potential promotions. Office housework, on the other hand, involves administrative tasks and other routine duties that are necessary to the daily business operations.

HBR research showed that women and people of color are often assigned more office housework than glamour work. The result: they have less access to “prestige projects” compared to white men.

To overcome this issue, managers should pay special attention to who they typically give the office housework to and spread it out equally in the future. And when it comes to assigning glamour work? Create a rotating system that gives all employees with the requisite skills the chance to show their stuff, the Harvard Business Review advised.

Establish mentorship programs

A mentorship or shadowing program can be a great way to give women and minority employees more professional visibility at the leadership level. Fast Company gives the example of two companies that operate such systems.

IBM runs a “reverse mentoring” program. Top leaders are paired with female mentors who have been noted as future leaders, the publication explained. This method exposes female employees to leadership roles while helping to remove any unconscious biases.

Another example is Deloitte. Top executives are paired with female employees for one or two years with the goal of improving talent visibility. The program goes one step further. They leaders responsible for whether female employee they’re matched with display professional development and new skills.

Through these types of initiatives, women and minority employees can gain access to executive-level work spheres and develop leadership skills.

Diversity has to be visible at the top of a company for it to be sustainable everywhere else. The tips above can help you ensure that women and minorities in your company’s leadership are represented in your leadership.

Allie Kelly

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