As companies and organizations become more
aware and proactive about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), greater
emphasis is being placed on recruiting diverse talent. From my experience,
however, if the change is to be sustained, the focus is better placed on
retention and advancement (see my previous blog
posts about Focusing on Retention, Clogs in the Leadership Pipeline, and
Succession Planning). One
key strategy in retaining diverse talent is mentorship. In today’s post, we
will take a look at why mentorship is important, what a mentorship program
might look like in an organization, and the role of unofficial mentorship,
otherwise known as sponsorship.
I have a 2-year-old
Chocolate Lab named Sora. She’s the runt of her litter; short, compact, and
dense. I love her to pieces and I’ve taken about 5,000 photos of her. My wife
even started her own Instagram account. But as cute and loveable as she is, there’s
something different about her: she pees like a male dog.
Recently, I was
sitting in the waiting area of a restaurant with a friend when an amiable
individual turned to us and started a conversation. This person (who was White)
asked my friend, “Where are you from?”
My friend answered,
To which the person
responded, “No, where are you really from?”
Disbelief and grief. These were my two main feelings when I first encountered the news about the recent shootings in Atlanta that took the lives of 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian American. It all felt surreal as I conversed with friends from the Asian American community. In a way, this incident put a spotlight on what has already been happening in America for centuries but accelerated during the pandemic, influenced in part by popular American leaders negatively associating the virus with Asians and calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” and “Kung Flu” among other names. While I think it’s long overdue that mass media pays attention to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) experience, I’m saddened that it took such a tragic event to put Asians on the front-page news.
Leadership teams of major organizations haven’t historically been diverse, but there is a way to make things better. Diversity in senior leadership teams takes intention, work, and planning. In my previous articles, we examined how retaining underrepresented talent as well as identifying where minority staff aren’t given promotions in your organization are keys to fostering a diverse workplace. However, if you really want the diversity within your organization to flourish, you need to create and implement a clear succession planning strategy so that underrepresented individuals have opportunities to advance all the way through, from entry-level to VP and even extending to C-Suite positions.
As greater numbers of organizations seek to include more ethnically and culturally diverse people in their workforces, it becomes increasingly important to address differences in representation among the various levels of staff and leadership. In my previous article, I shared about the importance of retaining staff from underrepresented communities and looking for “leaks” in the company. Today, we will examine the problem of “clogs” in the leadership pipeline that prevents some employees from moving up in an organization.
Recent studies are proving what many have suspected for years: More diverse workforces outperform less diverse ones. McKinsey’s Diversity wins: How inclusion matters report, published in May 2020, states that companies in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity were 36% more likely to outperform companies in the bottom quartile. So, if your corporation is not ethnically and culturally diverse, then you do not currently have the best talent available.
In a recent webinar, I share about how organizations can engage employees at all levels to improve ethical conduct, through a video-based training approach. This is based on my work helping every T-Mobile employee Do It the Right Way.