Nearly every company today would state that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a business priority, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an April Gartner survey, 69% of heads of DEI said that they are prioritizing the advancement of underrepresented talent. However, another recent Gartner survey of 113 HR leaders reveals that 88% feel their organization has not been effective at increasing diverse representation.
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Gartner TalentNeuron™ data confirms the lack of diversity among the leadership of U.S. companies. Its data shows that among senior-level corporate positions, only 10% are held by a woman from a racial or ethnic minority and only 18% by a man from a minority segment.
“ There is no two-hour training remedy for this challenge. Organizations need to assess their current systems and processes to mitigate bias”
Gartner has identified these organizational barriers to the advancement of underrepresented talent:
- Unclear career paths and steps to advancement
- Too little exposure to senior leaders
- Lack of mentors or career support
“There is no two-hour training remedy for this challenge. Organizations need to assess their current systems and processes to mitigate bias and address organizational factors that prohibit equal opportunity for advancement,” says Lauren Romansky, Managing Vice President, Gartner.
HR and DEI must address the systemic bias embedded in their systems, processes and stakeholders to truly increase the diversity of their managerial and leadership benches. Gartner has identified three actions HR can take to reset how underrepresented talent is advanced.
1. Fix the manager-employee relationship
Historically, organizations have focused on “fixing” underrepresented talent through formal leadership development programs. To make progress on increasing diversity representation, organizations need to build healthy manager-employee relationships that set the right foundation for advocacy and advancement.
Managers are unable to effectively execute critical advocacy and advancement-related activities if they do not have a solid working relationship with their employees. This can be even more challenging when managers and employees come from different experiences.
To fix the manager-employee relationship:
- Teach managers how to build personalized support for direct reports while enabling them to be effective talent coaches.
- Build manager awareness of the employee experience of underrepresented talent.
- Broker trust between underrepresented talent and their managers.
The most successful organizations go beyond traditional leadership development programs that focus solely on skill building to advance women, LGBT+, or racially and ethnically diverse employees. Instead, they also target managers of program participants to spread awareness of the employee experience of their direct reports, build trust and enable greater manager advocacy.