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5 Ways to Make Your Leadership Ranks More Diverse

By Steve Frost and Danny Kalman

5 Ways to Make Your Leadership Ranks More DiverseThe cliché is that people don’t leave organisations, they leave bosses. In fact, the evidence is pretty close to this—it suggests that people leave organisations above all else because of culture.

People are different and require tailored inclusion strategies that avoid both one size fits all (that tends to favour the dominant group) and tailored approaches based only on stereotype.

Here are five actions you can undertake to retain minority groups:

Inclusive Talent Management:
  1. Proportionality
    Proportionality is the simple concept that promotion should be in proportion to the talent available. If 30 percent of ‘Grade B’ population is female, then we would expect 30 percent of promotions to the ‘Grade A’ above to be women. In this way, the Grade A 20 percent female population would increase over time towards the 30 percent incidence at the grade below.

    The concept’s simplicity allows it to be scalable across the entire organisation. It’s a nudge that doesn’t require much training. Its power lies in challenging previously held assumptions about the fairness of our promotion systems.
  2. Proactive promotions
    How we frame promotions is vital. Not everyone presents in the same way, or needs the same pull factors, but just because some need more persuasion than others does not mean they are less talented. Make extra effort to find the brilliant talent that doesn’t self promote—and then promote those people. Demonstrate through actions rather than simply words what you value. Not only does this promote great talent—it also signals to self-promoters the behaviours that are truly valued by the organisation.
  3. Mixed panels
    Promotion panels should be mixed at least in terms of gender and department. The people on the panel should also demand mixed slates to interview, seeking out the quiet talent. Nudges such as independently ranking candidates blind (to avoid name association bias) and then coming to a group afterwards (to avoid groupthink) can be helpful.

    The challenge is how to vary the selection method to better suit the individual whilst having consistency and fairness to all candidates.
  4. Developing introverts
    Those people who are more open, talkative and comfortable with self-promotion tend to excel in more traditional training settings, get noticed more readily and are often highlighted as high potentials. Introverts, on the other hand, internalise their thoughts and by the time they have had time to think others have often spoken up.

    People responsible for running development programmes need to understand such traits so as to leverage the potential of all participants. Once people feel more confident to express themselves their energy and passion can often be seen.
  5. Employee Resource Groups
    These are associations of people with common interests, often diversity based. For example, women’s networks, LGBT associations, and Black caucuses. Often these networks go beyond immediate need and become proactive networks to win new business, advance careers through mentoring and sponsorship programmes and decrease attrition of particular groups.

The above five strategies can help retain minorities by changing the system, rather than making them ‘build profile’ when it might be inauthentic for them to do so. Instead of ‘treating everyone the same’, signal to all of your people that you value them through the system changes you enact and the actions you undertake.

Steve Frost and Danny Kalman are the authors of the book Inclusive Talent Management: How Business can Thrive in an Age of Diversity (Kogan Page, 2016), from which this blog is excerpted.

Steve FrostSteve Frost is a leadership, communications, and inclusion expert. He was formerly Head of Diversity and Inclusion for the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) 2007-2012, and is currently a Visiting Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School. He is also Vice President (Diversity) of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Danny KalmanDanny Kalman was Director of Global Talent at Panasonic Corporation from 2008. He currently leads his own talent management consultancy, has become an accredited executive coach, speaks regularly at conferences on talent management, and has led leadership programmes in Asia and South America. Danny is a co-author of the book 'Make Your People Before You Make Your Product', published by Wiley in 2014. 

Posted: 16 Dec, 2016,
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