Top Management Diversity: How to Make It Happen?

Though organizations have initiatives to encourage a diverse workforce for many years now, top management diversity is scarce. Despite having the leadership potential, skilled professionals do not have influential sponsors to promote them. Mentors can help people learn the ropes, but how would the senior leadership know about junior talent unless talked about? In this article at Harvard Business Review, Herminia Ibarra and Nana von Bernuth discuss how sponsors can bring about top management diversity in any organization.

Sponsoring Top Management Diversity

Sponsors can serve both purposes. They can provide progressive suggestions and influence senior executives to help skilled professionals get their deserved position. If organizations pair up sponsors and apprentices well, they will be creating future leaders from the ground up. Here’s how you can increase top management diversity and make a difference:

Designate the Right Influencer

Mentors cannot always be the sponsors, nor could the direct bosses. Choose someone that has a seat on the decision-making board and carry some weight in the organization. You can ask external solicitors to promote them. However, it is wise to keep them as mentors and make someone from the organization a sponsor. You can then avoid internal politics.

Understand the Purpose

Some sponsors might want to include apprentices to a specific field, while others wish to expose junior talents to it all. Pairing sponsors and mentees from the same sector or department seems justifiable but should be based on the purpose. If sponsors are located elsewhere, it becomes harder to convince them to promote an individual they do not know. It does not matter if they belong to the ‘same race, gender, or ethnicity’. Women that were promoted by men in the U.S. Naval Academy and War College got more promotions and career opportunities. David Smith and Brad Johnson found out that in their study.

Train Both Parties

It is not uncommon for people from the same background to sync. However, the same mentality makes some of the talents lose opportunities. Pairing people from dissimilar backgrounds may also cause mutual distrust and conflict. Apprentices might feel they are underrepresented while the sponsors would think they are misunderstood. To increase top management diversity and prevent such biases, you must conduct training.

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