Making Room at the Top
We surveyed companies about the real challenges still holding women back, and then asked experts in diversity leadership for possible solutions.
Companies on Working Mother’s 2018 25 Best Companies for Multicultural Women list have more women of color in the workforce and senior positions than national averages. Their progress is noteworthy, but it isn’t good enough. What can we learn from the best practices they use to find, retain and promote women of color? How do diversity experts advocate they break the logjam?
There are some differences in which initiatives are most effective for which groups of multicultural women. We know this because for the first time in its 16-year history, the survey asked companies for data by Census Bureau categories of race/ ethnicity. In the future, we hope to cover multicultural women by racial/ethnic groups in more detail. Here we chose to discuss the three largest groups—Hispanic, African-American and Asian. The other three census designations—Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaska Native, and two or more races—are less than 2 percent of the population.
WHAT THE DATA SHOWS
The survey data shows multicultural women comprise 23 percent of the workforce of the
25 Best Companies, which exceeds their representation in the U.S. workforce (19 percent), according to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2014 and 2024, the percentages of Hispanic women, Asian-American women and African-American women in the labor force will increase by 30 percent, 24 percent and 11 percent, respectively. The percentage of white women in the labor force will decline by 2 percent.
But this isn’t translating into enough positions at the top. At the 25 Best Companies, they are 9 percent of senior managers versus 5 percent nationally (EEOC), and 8 percent of boards of directors versus 4 percent nationally (Alliance for Board Diversity, Catalyst). There currently are no multicultural women CEOs at our Best Companies and none in the Fortune 500.
WHAT’S MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE
Let’s look at two initiatives helping the Best Companies find and promote multicultural women— and ways they can be produce better results.