By Ellen McGirt
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.

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