Our current reality: the percent of minorities in corporate leadership roles in U.S.-headquartered corporations is less than their representation in the country’s population. In a recent conference on diversity in organizations, minority leaders indicated that organizations might want to pay attention to the growing number of minority consumers and examine the buying power of the growing diversity in our population. Successful organizations are increasing the number of diverse leaders in marketing so they can effectively reach targeted audiences. Furthermore, companies don’t want to make the same mistake as a leading sporting goods and clothing retailer, who experienced consumer backlash for their culturally insensitive marketing.
Whereas many companies have made significant strides in recruiting diverse employees, there is still a lack of representation at the top levels. Exit interview data appears to demonstrate that diverse high potential leaders leave organizations when they do not see similar faces at the top and don’t think they have a chance of breaking through barriers to achieve an upper management role. Another point of data is that diverse employees may be derailed at some point in their careers relating to lack of culture fit.
Given the changes in the population, it is vital for organizations to – instead of taking a passive approach – identify future leaders and begin development and retention strategies early on.
The Forbes Insights’ study, “Diversity & Inclusion: Unlocking Global Potential,” conducted by Oxford Economics, created a unique ranking of worldwide workforce diversity across 50 global economies, 14 industrial sectors and 9 occupational categories. The global model compares and benchmarks employee diversity across countries, industries and occupations. Norway, which ranks number one with the most diverse global workforce, was the first country to mandate a gender quota system for board participation in publicly traded companies.
One strategy identified by minority leaders that made it to the top is the support provided by an executive coach. Not only can executive coaching be used to increase diversity and retention, it also appears to be linked to improved productivity and overall performance.
Executive coaching helps retain minority leaders, improves employee engagement, and drives hugely positive business results. Many universities and diversity organizations have published research analyzing the correlation between minority and gender diversity on corporate boards and financial performance.
In 2011, Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women and business, published two studies with data on global results based on three performance measures:
- Companies with the most women board of directors (WBD) outperformed those with the least number of women on return on sales (ROS) by 16%.
- Companies with the most WBD outperformed those with the least return on investment capital (ROIC) by 26%.
- Companies with sustained high representation of WBD, defined as those with three or more WBDs in the role at least four of five years, outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84% on ROS, by 60% on ROIC, and by 46% on return on equity.
However, just any coach won’t do it. The coach needs to have experience and be culturally competent. A compelling minority coaching report, “Values sensitive coaching: The DELTA approach to coaching culturally diverse executives,” was conducted by the American Psychological Association. Because the trends of globalization and workplace cultural diversity have rapidly increased, it is crucial for executive coaches to understand how cultural values affect minority leadership and business executive coaching. The model is a flexible framework that leadership coaches use to work with, motivate, and develop culturally diverse minority executives.
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