The broken pipeline to the C-suite for people of color


There is a broken pipeline to the C suite for executives of color in Corporate America.

The big picture: If companies continue at their current icy pace, it will take nearly a century for black and Latino professionals to achieve proportional representation at the managerial level.

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  • “The workforce is so diverse, but organizations are always homogeneous at the top,” said Anuradha Hebbar, the former head of diversity at Verizon. “Fixing this really has to be about radical cultural change. “

In numbers :

  • Latinos make up about 18% of the US workforce and own 1 in 7 small businesses but hold only 4% of executive positions and less than 3% of board seats at Fortune 1000 companies. C ‘is the biggest gap between representation in the workforce and leadership positions of any racial or ethnic group.

  • Black Americans make up about 13% of the workforce. They are proportionally represented in entry-level professional jobs (12%), but under-represented at manager level (7%). And they only occupy 4% of senior manager, VP and SVP positions.

  • Asian Americans make up 6% of the workforce and hold 27% of professional jobs, but don’t always climb the ranks: they occupy about 13% of management positions.

What is happening: There are a host of structural inequities that prevent people of color from taking leadership positions.

  • Networks: Studies have shown people often hire, mentor and end up promoting those who are like them. This means that older white males continue to be power brokers in businesses of all types and sizes.

  • When I was trying to raise capital for a startup, “it was such a grueling process meeting people,” says Andrew Sampson, founder and CEO of Rainway App, who is black. “It was the lack of having a network.”

  • Geography: 60% of black workers live in the South, which has far fewer hot job centers than other parts of the country, for example a McKinsey analysis. In other words, only 1 in 10 black workers live in high-growth cities like Seattle or Provo, Utah.

  • Turnover: Attrition rate for Black and latino professionals in companies are disproportionately high, often because they don’t feel respected or valued at work. It’s a vicious cycle, as a history of job departures can make it more difficult to get the next job.

The bottom line: As business leaders have increasingly stronger voices in society, influence public policies and the sentiment it is even more critical that the diverse make-up of the country is reflected in the C-suite. But America is far from that parity.

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