Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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48 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N W i n t e r 2 0 1 8 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Conversations with Catalyst A lthough Corporate America has spent years implementing diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs, black and Latino women still remain underrepresented at mid- and senior-level positions. According to recent data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, black women are 7.6 percent of the private sector work- force, but only 1.5 percent of executives. Latino women comprise 6.2 percent of the private sector workforce, yet only 1.3 percent of executives. e majority of large corporations in the United States have instituted D&I programs. Such programs are meant to attract, retain, and promote diverse talent. However, many of these programs are executed "imperfectly" when it comes to women of color. Catalyst data show that women of color in law firms, for example, are significantly less likely than white women to believe that their organization's D&I programs are successful at overcoming subtle gender and racial bias. Why is that? Clearly, organizations have not been successful at creating inclusive workplaces in which those of different backgrounds have an opportunity to thrive. Recent research has shown that decision makers often fall back on biased preferences rather than "following the script" of objective decision making. One study, based on observations of a hiring committee, found that even when hiring criteria were clearly laid out, committee members overlooked objective criteria linked to potential productivity of candi- dates, in favor of selecting candidates who were similar to themselves in self-presen- tation styles. One promising avenue for improve- ment of diversity and talent management practices is to limit the opportunities for Katherine Giscombe, PhD biases to affect decisions. For example, structured interviews, such as a set of objective questions related to spe- cific job duties, tend to be more ac- curate in predicting employee perfor- mance than informal, "unstructured" interviews. Informal interviews are more likely to allow bias to enter the picture. is might include the chitchat between an interviewer and a job candidate before an interview begins. Subtle behaviors at this point—those that let the interviewer know that he or she is similar to the candidate— can raise the chances for a job offer. Similarly, practices or programs that are only loosely managed are less likely to be successful in achieving their end goal, versus those with consistent oversight. In an assessment that I conducted of the effectiveness of mentoring programs for women (including both white women and women of color), some mentoring programs were closely managed in the pilot or early phases, providing support and guidance to the pairs. However, as the programs expanded, they lost both some oversight by those responsible for the practice or program and a measure of participant satisfaction. If business leaders are willing to apply the same level of oversight to D&I and tal- ent management practices as they do to the revenue-generating areas of their business- es, they will succeed in generating greater returns on their talent investments. Until then, they are missing out on the diverse perspectives and insights that women of color bring to the business world. For more information, see Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms—Women of Color in Professional Services Series | Catalyst. Katherine Giscombe, PhD, is Catalyst's Vice President and Women of Color Practitioner, Global Member Services. Diversity and inclusion and talent manage- ment practices must be better designed and managed Point of View > ABOUT CATALYST Catalyst is a global non- profit working with some of the world's most powerful CEOs and lead- ing companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with pioneering re- search, practical tools, and proven solutions to accel- erate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone. catalyst.org Implementation Matters

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