To Be Fair: Offer Opportunities for Women of Color Across The Board

 Katherine Giscombe of Catalyst advises companies to mentor women of color and promote them fairly. Does 4 percent seem like a lot to you?Working Mother reports the good news in its June/July issue that 25 American companies are honored as the best companies for multicultural women work in terms of hiring, retention, networking, mentoring and promotion.The bad news is that only 4 percent of corporate executives at these companies are multicultural women. These companies include blue ribbon entities such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, Verizon and WalMart. And that low, low percentage is the same rate as in 2009.For the past 13 years WM has been compiling data of American corporations with more than 500 employees. This year’s list of companies employ 2.5 million workers in 11 industries from insurance to telecommunications in 28.500 locations. At these companies, women of color hold 28 percent of the board of director seats, yet 14 percent of managers are multicultural women. Only 8 percent of senior managers are women of color.But 0 percent of the CEOs of these companies are women of color. Zero. Not one at 25 companies. That compares to 76 percent of the CEOs at these companies who are white men, 16 percent who are white women and 8 percent who are men of color.To change that, programs of mentorship, sponsorship and accountability for all efforts need to be in place. At these companies, 96 percent require a diversity executive to report on metrics, goals and programs aimed at promotion for women of color.Carla Murphy writes in Working Mother: “Advising, critiquing, pushing forward—it’s what great mentors do every day. But for most women, and especially multicultural women, it’s a relationship that’s still too rare. Just 9 percent of women of color win the support of senior leaders as sponsors at work (versus 13 percent of white employees), according to the Center for Talent Innovation, an organization focused on workforce diversity. Sponsors are managers who, at a minimum, are two or more levels above and have the power to propel a junior staffer into senior roles. ‘These are people who, when opportunities for promotion arise, are in the room speaking out on your behalf,’ explains Tai Wingfield, senior vice president of communications at CTI.”Changing the dismal stats of 0 and 4 percent for women of color is critical for all men and women in the workplace.[bctt tweet=“Changing the dismal stats of 0 and 4 percent for women of color is critical for all men and women in the workplace #25not95 “]“One way is by making sure to place effective mentors or sponsors at key junctures along the career paths of employees—especially women of color,” Murphy writes. “To help high-level executives diversify their slate of protégés, companies like Allstate Insurance and New York Life Insurance now offer tools such as unconscious-bias training to help managers become aware of gender and racial stereotypes that keep mentoring slates predominately white and male.”According to Working Mother, “A senior-level white male will have a natural attraction to some- one who resembles him,” explains Dr. Katherine Giscombe, Ph.D., vice president and women-of-color practitioner at Catalyst, a nonprofit organization focused on women in business. “They often see junior white men as being younger versions of them- selves, and they’ll be more likely to mentor him than a woman of color.”And anyone would do well to get into the CEO spot. According to the most recent report from Paywatch from the AFL_CIO released last week, “CEOs made 335 times more than the $36,875 salary they paid the average employee.” CEOs earned an average salary of $12.4 million in 2015. Included in the list is CEO of Mondelez Irene Rosenfeld, who made a reported $20 million.Hers is rare occurrence indeed, as many note that women of color are not fairly represented at top spots or even in corporate boards.[bctt tweet=“Women of color are not fairly represented at top spots or even in corporate boards #25not95”]According to Elizabeth Olson in the New York Times: “Efforts to diversify America’s corporate boards with more minorities and women are still lagging, and Hispanics, in particular, are far behind other groups in being selected for directorships, according to an annual report on the board composition of large companies.”

Olson writes: “Over all, 399 new directors were selected for the top company boards last year. Hispanics claimed only 4 percent of those appointments, or 16 seats. The gap has widened over the last seven years, according to Heidrick & Struggles Board Monitor, which has tracked board appointments since 2009.”

She continues, “Even as the percentage of new women directors has been rising each year, from 18 percent in 2009, the board monitor said it had revised downward a projection that women would reach parity with men in the number of new directors by 2024. It now predicts that women will make up 50 percent of new directors by 2026.”From the start up level for women of color starting businesses, a new city-wide initiative in New York, WE Master Leadership was launched last week. It is aimed at helping low income and immigrant women become entrepreneurs and will serve 500 women annually with a goal of serving more than 5,000 by 2019.According to Digital NYC, “The workshop will empower underserved women to reach their full economic potential through a series of business classes covering topics such as leadership, negotiation, communication techniques, crafting a formal business pitch and overcoming common challenges. Building these skills will ultimately help women business owners grow and sustain their business. Research released by SBS and Citi Community Development shows that nearly 75 percent of women entrepreneurs cited lack of confidence as a challenge, and less than one-third rate themselves as proficient in areas critical for running a business.”According to Marina Linhart, Partner at Next Street with the city, “Having served thousands of business owners across New York City, we fully understand the critical role women entrepreneurs play in the sustainable development of their communities. We look forward to the opportunity to help equip them with the knowledge and tools for success.”