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In your opinion, what can companies do to make racial diversity in management and corporate leadership positions a priority?

likefunnyupliftinghelpful
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The "pipeline problem" as focused on entry level employees is a cop out. It was an issue 20-30 years ago, but not today, when 25%+ of Harvard admits are black or Hispanic (not to mention the Asian %!). As seen elsewhere in this thread, and real life, entry levels are plenty diverse. I think this is because entry levels focus on discrete skills with less room for bias (Was the spreadsheet correct? Were the slides created on time?), and minorities do well here. However, managerial and above levels are noticeably less diverse because judgement criteria are open to interpretation (Was Maria too bossy when managing that engagement? Is Tyrone the kind of guy we want to be the face of our firm to clients? Does the MD like Zhang enough to recommend her for promo? Sanjay is great at IT, but can he handle people?), the criteria are not applied evenly, and this leaves room for bias in ways that are not easy to identify and counteract, regardless of how well the person actually performed. Until the bias problem is figured out, diversity metrics with corresponding accountability (bonuses, review impacts, even dismissal) is probably the best bet. I see no solution to the bias problem beyond turnover amongst the people who think diversity/bias issues are BS. Implicit bias training session will turn a few people in the middle, and it shows diverse groups that the company cares enough to invest, but it is mostly preaching to the choir.

likesmartuplifting

The point was that there isn't a pipeline problem and that biases in organisations prevent diversity at higher levels in the hierarchy. These points were pretty clearly articulated.

Having had this conversation with an African American partner, I will say first that when blacks in these firms hear “ let’s expand beyond race to diversity of thought,” they think “Anything but black people.” Because of that relationship, I think about this topic often, and I’m both pleasantly surprised by the volume of responses and disturbed by some of them. To be expected. I’m no expert, but my friend has said and I agree that the recruiting part is necessary but insufficient. The focus in this area has existed for quite a while, and yet the numbers at the partner level are shockingly low, especially for African Americans and LatinX. We have seen material growth in other areas, especially women, though work still needs to be done there. The talent distribution in the recruiting classes within the various demographics is pretty equal, in my observation: the bell curve that exists for for high potential white, Non-white, men and women is probably the same, yet the AAs and LatinX wash out at higher rates as they go up the ranks and their percentages decrease. As has been said elsewhere and is true in my experience, it’s about mentorship and sponsorship. The reality is if white Partners and MDs adopted one HiPo from these groups and took a personal stake in their development, the numbers would move dramatically and quickly, resulting in retained talent and improved performance. The reality also is that we all know this is true and yet we don’t do it: even the most well-meaning. Excuses abound, but the result is talent leakage while we’re whistling past the competitive talent graveyard. And so I don’t blame those who say it’s just talk. They’re right. But the answers aren’t unclear.

likehelpful
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As a POC Partner, I think an emphasis has to be on entry level recruiting. The people we bring in at a junior level are our future. If we don't do a good enough job at that part of the funnel, we'll never get the results we're looking for on the other side. Secondly, I think we have to step up accountability here. Executives should be held accountable if their company under-performes on this.

likesmarthelpfulupliftingfunny

Yes, OP!

Diversity means 1. White women 2. White gay men 3.Asians 4. Hispanics 5. Black Immigrants 6. Black American Descendants of Slaves. These are the priorities in that order

likesmartfunnyhelpful

True meritocracy. Objective standards, incorporate blinded reviews, etc.

likefunny

Not sure if you’re responding to me, but I agree that racism is rampant! That’s part of the reason for doing something like covering the name on top of a resume when you read it. On average, someone with a “black-sounding” name is less likely to be selected in a resume screen that someone with a “white-sounding” name

likesmart

Spend more money on top tier talent and fix the obsession on hiring for “cultural” fit. If people feel welcome to apply, it shouldn’t be that hard to get diversity

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PwC5: So what if it’s 2020?

A moment in my black history.... This morning, I attended a meeting. There were six of us, relatively diverse, and progressive. Someone suggested we do an icebreaker - to say something about our names. People talked about being named after a relative or their mother's best friend. They talked about the European origin or uniqueness of their last name and how people mispronounced or misspelled their names. I was the last person to go and the only African-American. I started by saying that the origin of my first name means queen. I said my last name belonged to a slavemaster. Folks were stunned. I suggested people be mindful of these kinds of exercises going forward. I wasn't angry or upset, just matter-of-fact. And I think some lessons were learned. Moreover, those who believe they are progressive often attempt to “flex” their political correctness as it relates to their attempt to appear to be diverse and inclusive. Yet, what often happens these superficial attempts do nothing more than reveal how uncomfortable they truly are when it comes to these matters.

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Sure, one can apologize for anti semitic hate speech. Reporting doesn’t get you banned but hopefully the post will be removed.

Expand the initial pipeline by ensuring equal access for all applicants, and support everyone while they are here. Don’t tokenize us or give me a job because of my skin color

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But how does that change it if black&brown folks aren’t seeing others like them in their future work? It sucks but I always volunteer because I know how I felt being the only black consultant in my starting class

likesmart

The answer to this is simple ..”Start making more blacks partners ...“...

likefunny

M8 agreed. It’s a shame that PwC is actually one of the most diverse firms at the Associate and SA levels. I am a minority and came in with the expectation that given this is a major international firm, it is all going to be very egalitarian. Then I got staffed on the big account, and boy, was I wrong.

likesmart

We need to start recruiting black people, disabled people, trans people, gay people, Muslim people, indigenous people, Hispanic people and other underrepresented minorities. We care too much about qualifications and not enough about important things like the amount of melanin in a person’s skin.

funnylikesmart

I think you meant this as satire but the implication you’re making is that you believe that those with the most skill intelligence and knowledge do and should rise to the top. And so what are you implying about those that are not represented in leadership? Not as intelligent knowledgeable or skilled? Merit has not created the racial stratification in leadership, across rank and in recruiting #s...that’s a really serious and problematic belief you seem to hold. If objective and neutral merit based decisions were possible, then fine, but that’s not real. Our world does not operate based on a neutral and objectively defined merit system in any way, so why imply that it does or even than that’s possible?

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I dont think any company really takes diversity Seriously beyond on paper.. most of the people making the decisions arent affected by the crap culture or may very well be perpetuating it.. im literally on a team with majority “brown” people and the company has allowed for leadership on this team to treat everyone like were in their country with no labor laws.. and they pretty much only hire other “brown” people.. im black btw.. if companies really cared theyd go to the ppl on the ground and get legit perspectives not keep creating stupid power points and click through trainings

like

Smh at them being POC.. its real that all skinfolk aint kin folk.. some of them be ready to throw the rest of us under the bus to get ahead

like

Instead of focusing on color, sex, or whatever criteria, focus on top performers who can integrate with clients and produce results they need. The right blend of diversity will naturally occur if we listen to what our clients really want.

likefunny

M7, not nearly enough or quickly enough, and actually, not really.

First time I can recall seeing a diversity post tied to what is not PC but entirely accurate - race. Remove “woke” diversity and inclusion programs, unnecessary executive roles and pointless race quotas and focus on employing recruiting and development processes that are fair and equitable.

like

To attempt to take this back to something actionable: I have no idea how you solve implicit bias and some of the other complex intercultural and interracial issues as you get high up in an organization and are looking at partner. Whether we like it or not at many of these firms the partnership decision is about numbers but also whether the other partners like someone. At lower levels start by removing names from resumes. At hiring events or interviews you have no idea who the person is until you walk in and shake their hand. That would stop some of the problems associated with people never getting in the funnel to begin with because of their name. It won’t stop bias and prejudice in an interview but at least they will get to the interview. I also think, or maybe I should say hope, people might be more aware of their biases and own prejudices (in a personal learning sort of way) if they go into an interview really impressed by a resume and then are confronted by someone whose race, gender, etc. surprises them. I think someone else mentioned it but it is an interesting idea, could you do a personnel review or promotion panel without names? I think in some cases people would know who someone is based on the description of what they did, but I am not sure that is always the case. Only HR would have the decoder that says candidate 17 or senior associate 27 is Cathy or Mike. I would think those two ideas might make some nominal Improvements in the number of diverse candidates entering the funnel and at least progressing through the lower levels more equitably. Thoughts?

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If you recruit from a predominately “one culture only” program and school, then that is what you will get at your company. Also, diversity should really include those who have physical or mental challenges, older folks, younger folks, moms and dads, those who are single, etc. I hate that some companies say “best place for working mothers” or “best place for diversity” and the people they surveyed are really neither. Diversity is a fun word, it gets recognition by businesses, but walk into an office, a project site etc and tell me, what do you REALLY see?

like

As a parent with a hidden disability, I feel this!

Diversity means nothing without INCLUSION. People should start focusing on both and stop disregarding the importance of the latter!!

likeuplifting

Say that louder for the people in the back! 🗣

likefunny

Simple. Make this part of a business objective that leaders are compensated on. Tie it to metrics and bonuses and you’ll drive the right focus on it.

likehelpful

G2 is right. At PwC, I saw SA level minorities being recognized for delivery, and doing very well on execution. As soon as it gets to Mgr or Sales level, it completely thins out.

Some HR exec poses the same question every 6 months “What can we do about more diversity”..Yet the problem persists ...the reality is management doesn’t want to do anything about diversity they only want the appearance that they are interested in it..if they wanted to do something about it we would no longer be talking about it...because the problem would be aolved

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@M7 and @M8, most large, fortune 500 firms just don't want racial diversity. A few years ago, we were asking, "How do we get women in leadership?" And you know what? Somehow significant strides were made for non-poc women into leadership at all of those firms (too lazy to post; google this). Funny how that challenge got addressed in less than a decade but we're stymied on how to improve racial diversity.

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Brace yourself, this is a semi-long post: As someone who is getting started in their career I think representation at the senior mgmt level is a meaningful impact to me. It makes me think that upward mobility in the consulting world is possible and that the glass ceiling can be broken. Additionally, I think that meaningful and lasting change in diversity/inclusion should start at the executive level and be disseminated and executed from the Sr and middle management level. Leaders who are committed to making a difference WILL make a difference. I think for non-POC’s it’s easy to dismiss diversity as “unimportant”, “unfair”, and in some very extreme cases “racist”. I would challenge those individuals (both POC and non-POC) to put themselves in the shoes of others that don’t look like you. Have conversations with them, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and get to know another side of life that may be unlike your own.

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A15, because these posters clearly don’t get it.

Most of the answers above assume that diversity could be fixed by fixing things at corporate levels. I think the problem should be tackled at much more grassroot level. Case in point: If we look at Indians within consulting, they have done really well. Take BCG for example, the firm didn’t really do any diversity inclusion efforts for Indians and yet there are so many Indian partners. And no, not just within tech sector but across industries. So there must have been some cultural factor to have influenced that success. If consulting firms really want to fix diversity in the long run; they should start looking at younger age groups and evaluate what are some socio cultural phenomenon that negatively impact growth of certain ethnic groups and genders. And then we should invest resources in finding fixes there. It won’t be a quick fix; but I think much more rewarding than some of the measures being taken today. But the sad part is that today people are more focused on short term numbers, and it’s difficult to make a case for longer term success.

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Agree with you A15, and that’s the grassroots where we should tackle the problem. But as you said I will be shut down fast, because people want quick fixes instead of long term improvements.

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