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Recently, Working Mother Research Institute released a report that examines the barriers women of color face when trying to climb the ladder in corporate America. With more than 1,700 college-educated women surveyed, including 1,370 multicultural women, the study found that many women of color lacked the resources and support needed to excel in the workplace.
For most of the women surveyed, a non-inclusive work culture plays a major role in leading to dissatisfaction at work, as 74 percent of black women believe racial stereotypes occur in the workspace. With a significant number of minority women also feeling they can’t bring their authentic self to work, the report referred to a New York University study called “Uncovering Talent,” which revealed that 67 percent of women of color downplay some aspect of their identity that separates them from the mainstream at work.
To help companies address these issues and improve their work culture, Working Mother Research Institute outlined the following tips to assist employers with retaining multicultural female talent.
1. Focus on real advancement: Use objective metrics to ensure your mentorship, sponsorship and advancement programs are operating well and actually reach your women of color employees. Remain alert of any unconscious biases that may exist within these programs and make sure that all of your employees are receiving the salary they deserve.
2. Create employees resource groups: Employee resource groups will provide a safe environment for employees to voice their concerns and have their skills and experiences validated. Fifty-nine percent of the multicultural women surveyed said that networks were important to their career development so be sure that when you create these groups your employees are aware of them.
3. Focus on the middle manager: Building a policy that strengthens trust and communications between supervisors and those that work under them helps to improve the work culture for all parties involved. Placing an emphasis on those in middle management positions can provide a company with a clear sense of the challenges that need to be addressed.
4. Promote a clear vision of leadership: Make sure that women of color can see themselves as a leader at your company, and be sure that your definition of a leader isn’t so narrow that it excludes ethnically diverse women.
5. Think inclusive leadership: Encourage the current leaders at your company to take the extra step to connect with employees who are culturally different from them, rather than expecting them to change in order to fit the majority mold and culture.