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What Really Improves Diversity Among Leadership Positions?

More and more research-based evidence is showing that diverse leadership generates better results than leadership groups that lack diversity. Diverse teams tend to perform better financially, be more efficient at hiring top talent and oversee less worker turnover.

Clearly, striving to create a diverse leadership group isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also a way to gain a competitive advantage over companies that don’t embrace diversity.

Roadblocks to diversity

Research has shown that there are several key barriers to increased diversity in leadership. These roadblocks include a lack of mentors, persistent stereotypes and having a lack of responsibilities with a high degree of visibility.

People from different backgrounds also tend to be shut out of the informal channels of communication. They tend to be significantly absent from off-site social events and optional work functions.

Finally, personal and family commitments can be a major roadblock to greater diversity in corporate leadership. While the times are slowly changing, this roadblock has impacted women the most, as they traditionally take on a large amount of family responsibilities.

Companies that fully understand these barriers and how to deal with them take a large step toward increasing diversity in their leadership ranks.

A commitment from the top

Businesses that have the highest diversity in leadership positions have typically had active support from the very top of the organization. Senior executives must encourage diversity and actively reinforce that message whenever possible. At most businesses with successful track records of diversity, the chief executive is actively involved in events related to greater diversity. These executives also connect diversity to the overall company strategy and show how diversity is actually good for business.

Strong mentorship and networking programs

Professional networks can offer social support, career development and access to people in power from diverse backgrounds. When someone striving for a leadership position is able to connect with someone with influence from the same background, it allows them to act in concert, empowering both individuals. People from a diverse background who connect through networking are better positioned to point out systemic issues, ask for resources and take proactive steps to improve organizational culture.

Support work-life balance

Work-life balance is fast becoming a priority for men and women of all backgrounds. However, women traditionally take on a greater share of child-raising duties than men, and as such, programs to support work-life balance can help offset some of the career drawbacks many women face when raising a family.

The connection between gender diversity in leadership and the use of work-family programs is significant, according to research by one major study. In businesses where women had 50 percent or more of the top jobs, 82 percent of offered a flexible work schedule and 19 percent offered childcare. Conversely, in businesses with all-male leadership, 56 percent offered flexible schedules and 3 percent offered some kind of childcare support.

Interestingly, similar results were found to be true for work-life programs and people of color.

Work with a top supply chain recruiter

At ZDA, we support all of our clients’ push to increase diversity in their ranks. If your organization is currently looking to hire talented professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, please contact a top supply chain recruiter today.


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