Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

There’s still a long way to go to achieve C-Suite diversity. Women make up just 27% of S&P board members and minorities held just 16% of seats in 2018.  

Why Companies Need More Diverse Leadership

A 2018 study found that, on average, companies with a diverse management team earn 19% more revenue than companies with below-average diversity. A diverse workforce brings in a broader range of experience, which in turn fuels new ideas and innovation. Denise Hummel, CEO of Lead Inclusively, Inc., a SaaS technology company, explained that the percentage of diverse employees dwindles as they move up through middle management and closer to the C-suite.

Following are ways for companies to retain and advance diverse employees to senior leadership positions.

1. Scrutinize the recruitment process

Expand the hiring pool, have a diverse hiring panel membership including both women and men  and don’t discourage candidates from certain groups by overusing descriptors  that clearly exclude them, in the job postings.

Offering schedule flexibility or the option to work from home a few days a week attracts more candidates who don’t live nearby.

2. Support professional development.

It should be made clear during the onboarding process that the company has a continual learning plan to be sure that all team members have opportunities for professional growth and development as well as transparency around the promotion process.

3. Create an inclusive work environment.

Create an inclusive work environment where everyone feels welcome, by identifying the needs of underrepresented groups and providing adequate support for them.

4. Use technology to help sustain inclusion

Hummel believes that technology can help in the sustainability of diversity and inclusion programs.  Her company is developing the Inclusion Virtual Coach App which utilizes nudge messaging and AI to deliver state of the art microlearning, “schedules” the date and time of meetings, performance evaluations and other events.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to build a diverse leadership team. Quotas and sensitivity trainings are not enough. It requires thoughtful hiring, a clear path to growth and a continual push toward inclusivity.