Commentary

Best Companies for Multicultural Women

May 16, 2017

Working Mother has just released their 2017 Best Companies for Multicultural Women. In the top 5, as we’ve come to expect, are Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, KPMG and Procter & Gamble. Over the last 15 years, the list has grown from three qualifying companies to 25; IBM and American Express have earned a spot on the list every year.

Dig into the executive summary here, but I wanted to flag the three things that all the CEOs of the Best Companies do to make sure multicultural and women of color are succeeding. They get involved and make diversity a visible priority:

  • They all provide an annual update on diversity to the board of directors;
  • They all require a dedicated diversity executive to update them on diversity metrics;
  • They all meet regularly with a diversity executive to review goals and performance;

That kind of support from the top gives the rest of the company a chance to get creative. Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, IBM’s Chief Diversity Officer shared some advice with raceAhead on how to make that trickle-down work for you: “Creating an inclusive workforce requires a management that role-models and engages with employees on an ongoing basis. Start co-creating with employees on a solution that meets their needs, and start small and iterate. Also, there is no one single solution -- your approach should be as diverse as your workforce.”

Along with the list this year, the Working Mother Institute has published a new report that focuses on how white men are instrumental to the success of women of color in the workplace. It's a fascinating read.

The Status of Men as Allies for Multicultural Women surveyed 1,181 full-time employed multicultural women and 540 men, who concluded that a male-dominated culture is the number one factor holding multi-cultural women back from advancement.

Almost half of the women said they could use more support from men in leadership roles. Candid conversations would go a long way to bridging the gap:

  • Only 39% of multicultural women say their companies actively encourage dialogue on gender issues and 35% say their companies encourage it on racial issues.
  • Only 34% of multicultural women surveyed believe coworkers consider their talent and/or ability before their gender or race, versus 69% of men.

I asked Subha V. Barry, senior vice president and managing director of Working Mother Media, what she considered to be the best ways to get “over-represented” people to do the work without making them feel like they're part of the problem. She started with the business case. “By 2050, women of color will make up 53% of the U.S. female population. To prepare for that shift, U.S. companies need to get better at identifying, developing and promoting talented multicultural women into leadership positions,” she told raceAhead via e-mail. Then, she got real. “Not to generalize, but if the over-represented populations are oblivious to their privilege and behave in ways that do not make space for the under-represented groups, they ARE a part of the problem,” she said. “The key is to educate without guilt. Share data and information that shows them that when they change how they behave, it can dramatically move the needle. Make them a part of the solution and do it in a way that creates win-wins.”

Talk it out, people, and go get with the co-creating. When you get a chance, let me know what's working in the work.

On Point

Forty percent of the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants

So what does that tell you about U.S. competitiveness? Mohamad Ali, currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of Carbonite, has written a persuasive essay that links innovation to the grit it takes to re-establish oneself in another country. “Assembled under a set of consistent rules called the Constitution, we compete fiercely and win on a global scale. This is the kind of diverse team that CEOs covet and that builds great businesses.” He goes on to talk about his earlier jobs at IBM and Meg Whitman’s HP, at a time when both were on the brink of permanent decline. “Each had become proud, complacent, and insular. New ideas and new blood were unwelcome.” The answer was a diverse mix of new people with new ideas. He ends with some observations for the current administration. The business havoc of an immigrant ban is one thing. “The imminent threat to innovation and progress is another,” he says. 

HBR

Women: What to do if you’re interrupted at work

There’s good advice here for women who want to be prepared to face the bias that is often present in the workplace. Start by calling it out, says Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity and inclusion at Atlassian. “When starting the conversation [about salary negotiation] set the stage by naming the biases that might affect the discussion,” she says, such as the research that shows that when women advocate for themselves, they’re perceived as less likable. “[T]his can help offset a stereotype-driven bias before it happens,” she says. And if you’re interrupted in a meeting, don’t stop talking. “James, I’d love to quickly finish this point,” is an easy way to keep moving. And allies, if you see someone else getting railroaded in a meeting, you can do the same thing on their behalf, regardless of their gender or hue.

Fortune

Making it hard for voters with disabilities to be counted

The state in question is New Hampshire, but it’s worth thinking about in every district. A new ACLU lawsuit is alleging widespread discrimination in The Granite State. At issue is a rule that requires signatures on absentee ballots to match those on the application form for the ballot. If the signatures don’t match, the votes are tossed without any notification, voiding the votes of hundreds of disabled people who need help filling out their forms. "We're not necessarily saying that you can never use a signature for anything," says the ACLU.  But without notification or remedy, it should not be "the final determinant over whether someone has the fundamental right to vote."

Pacific Standard

More CEOs are getting forced out on ethics violation

The analysis comes from a larger CEO succession study from Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consultancy, and is worth your time. “There were only 18 such cases at the world’s 2,500 largest public companies in 2016,” the report finds. “But firings for ethical lapses have been rising as a percentage of all CEO successions.” Ethical lapses are defined as scandal or improper conduct that can include fraud, bribery, insider trading, environmental disasters, inflated resumes, and sexual indiscretions. Part of the reason may be good news: It appears that boards, investors, and the media are holding senior leaders to higher standards. The survey is global, but here’s the number for North America and Western Europe: “In our sample of successions at the largest companies there (those in the top quartile by market capitalization globally), dismissals for ethical lapses rose from 4.6 percent of all successions in 2007–11 to 7.8 percent in 2012–16, a 68 percent increase.”

Strategy+Business

Valerie Jarrett joins ATTN: as a senior advisor

We absolutely know she gives good advice. Valerie Jarrett, the former Senior Advisor to President Obama has just joined ATTN:, the issues-driven media company that aims to be your main source for news, policy, power and culture on your mobile device. She says it’s a continuation of her policy work at the White House. “We're often told that these challenging subjects are too boring or dense for general audiences, and frequently they receive scant press coverage unless there’s a political flashpoint,” she says, taking a shot at Beltway media. “But ATTN: has countered skeptics by communicating about them through compelling, substantive material that reaches hundreds of millions of people every month.”

ATTN

The Woke Leader

What’s next for journalism?

Every year, Harvard’s journalism-focused Nieman Lab asks industry experts for their best predictions for the year ahead for journalism. Click through for the entire list, but start with Sydette Harry, the community lead for The Coral Project, an initiative designed to help journalists better serve their communities. Harry succinctly defines the problem: Major media is both insular and condescending, and essential journalism jobs are disappearing along with flimsy business models. “Public trust in the media continues to plummet, and it’s not hard to see why.” Now, as some formerly marginalized voices rise above the fray, a solution presents itself. “New faces and perspectives are completely reshaping where we go for news and what it is,” she says. “This is the year that journalism stops crafting the history the profession wants, and deals with the history the profession has,” she says. “Journalism needs to face itself, before history does.”

Nieman Lab

How discipline-focused video libraries are changing education

The success of Khan Academy, the wonderful open-access education platform, has inspired similar initiatives focused narrowly on specific fields. MEDSKL is one of the latest, and it aims to provide comprehensive medical content for the classroom, while giving students a way to interact with material that better matches their new media habits. Click through for a lively interview with MEDSKL creator Dr. Sanjay Sharma, a clinical epidemiologist, professor and research director. The platform now has content contributed by 200 medical faculty members at more than 70 universities worldwide. “Our goal was to create digital content that appeals to various learning styles—text-based, auditory, and visual,” he says, and lectures last no more than 18 minutes. MEDSKL supplements in-school learning, but is becoming an essential tool for “flipped” classrooms and for exam prep. According to EdSurge, a publication on education and tech, “discipline-focused” video libraries are a new but important trend in education.

EdSurge

Reversing the Great Migration, one life at a time

Minda Honey had been living in Southern California since 2008, doing the things that young starving artists do to find their place in the world. But did her life matter? When she finally completed her education in creative writing, she decided it was time to go home to Kentucky. “Trips home surrounded by friends and family who’d known me for decades reoriented me in space and time,” she says. “When I was with them, I didn’t have to try so hard to belong.” She became part of a great remigration; a return to a familiar place in what she hoped would also be a new South. It's been bittersweet. “Of all the things the South is—the bigotry, the poverty, the stifling Christianity—it is also warm and welcoming, a truth I struggled to remember after Donald J. Trump was announced the next president of the United States.” Her life, now affirming and affordable, is uncertain in a new way. “Personal accomplishments felt trivial; political challenges felt insurmountable,” she writes.

On She Goes

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