A recent study by Inside Inclusion revealed that the top 50 Chicago-based public companies are struggling with diversity. According to Reuben Unrau from Chicago Tonight, there seems to be a, “…lack of minority representation among senior leadership positions, with 19 showing no ethnic diversity within their executive ranks.”

Overall, the report revealed that the top 50 companies show an interest in racial diversity, but struggle to improve their numbers.  For example, although “minority representation among board of directors saw an increase from 12 percent to 14 percent between 2014 and 2016," African Americans, Hispanics and Asians holding senior or executive positions has steadily declined,.

Gloria Castillo, president and CEO of Chicago United, believes there is an array of reasons for the lack of diversity.  

One such reason is a lack of networking opportunities for minorities.  “In many professional situations, to advance you have to bring in the business,” said Castillo. “That is largely based on the individuals in your network. If you’re coming in without those connections, you are going to find that it is going to be much more difficult to move up in the firm.”

In addition, Castillo believes the lack of diversity is due to forms of unconscious bias.  Castillo agrees with Anka Wittenberg from the Entrepreneur, that in order to combat our struggles with diversity we must first recognize our biases. When managers are reluctant to provide direct feedback to employees, with whom they don’t feel "culturally connected,”, they may negatively impact “an individual’s ability to improve on their work.” This results in weaker performance evaluation due to inability to communicate.

The top 50 Chicago public companies need to reconsider their motives in remaining stagnate in racial inclusion among senior and executive leadership positions. A recent study from McKinsey & Company revealed exactly why they should reconsider their motives. “For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.”

-Ray Hayes