5 Reasons These Companies Hired 50% More Blacks, Latinos & Asians


What’s wrong with this picture? Your company, which has been pushing its belief in diversity and inclusion, posts pictures of its senior leadership. It’s a sea of white faces, 90 percent of whom are male.

You’ve been pushing to recruit young talent who are Black, Latino and Asian and you’ve had some success. But as you look at the pipeline to senior management, the funnel gets whiter and whiter.

You can learn lessons from DiversityInc Top 50 companies, whose track record proves they are able to find—and retain—Black, Latino and Asian executives.

Consider these numbers, with national data supplied by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The national average for Black, Latino and Asian managers is 18.2 percent. The Top 50 average is 24.1 percent and the Top 10 average is 28.4 percent. The national average for senior managers (top three levels) is 10.8 percent Black, Latino and Asian, while the Top 50 average is 14.8 percent and the Top 10 average is 16.4 percent.

How do Top 50 companies do it? Here are five proven strategies you can emulate:

1. Make diversity a significant, measurable factor in your succession planning.

Michelle Castleman, Cox Communications
Michelle Castleman

Don’t leave it to happenstance. If you need more Blacks, Latinos and Asians (and women) at the top of your organization, you need to plan for it, review all open positions, demand diverse slates from internal and external recruiters, and have full support of the existing senior management.

At Cox Communications (No. 18 in the DiversityInc Top 50), for example, Michelle Castleman, Director, Talent Development, notes that President Pat Esser and his executive team met three times last year to discuss the talent pipeline, with a focus on the executive-director (officer) level and above.

“When they talk about the talent, they talk about what people are capable of doing next. It’s very deliberate, especially to include females and minorities,” she says, adding, “It was revisited a second and then a third time to really, truly make sure that if there were individuals in the organization we felt were capable of advancement, then we were not leaving anyone out.”

At Kaiser Permanente (No. 4) both internal and external recruiters are expected to build diverse slates and all executive openings are reviewed by Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Chuck Columbus and Senior Vice President, National Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Policy and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Ronald Copeland.

2. Use your employee resource groups to on-board and ensure a comfortable fit with corporate culture.

Retention issues with talent from underrepresented groups are common—but far less frequent at Top 50 companies, where we see no significant difference between retention rates for white men versus Blacks, Latinos, Asians and women.

One of the key components is the Top 50 companies’ willingness to use employee resource groups to on-board new employees from underrepresented groups and help them navigate the corporate culture and understand what they need to do to succeed.

More than 90 percent of Top 50 companies include a diversity-and-inclusion emphasis for on-boarding for new hires. And more than 70 percent use their resource groups.

For example, at BASF (No. 26), all new employees are given an on-boarding buddy, who helps that person get the lay of the land including questions such as “Whom should I eat lunch with?”

At KPMG (No. 21), new employees are encouraged to join resource groups and resource-group leaders present at local events, extolling the benefits of membership, and at the annual new-hire/promotions celebration the firm holds, emphasizing “diverse individuals who have recently been promoted.”

3. Allow them to develop their full “executive” potential.

Valerie Cardwell, Comcast
Valerie Cardwell

The definition of “executive presence” varies from company to company, but allowing people to develop their authentic leadership styles is critical to their success.

For example, Valerie Cardwell, Executive Director at Comcast (No. 44), says that at her company difference is celebrated: “I am an African-American woman. We are different. We look different. In 2014, we still stand out. As you get up in the executive ranks that becomes more and more apparent. Early in my career, I was more concerned that I was heard. Now, I leverage the fact that I think differently and I am more strategic on how I get my ideas and suggestions on the table.”

At Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (No. 1), many programs help develop executive presence, including working with executive coaches, workshops and the ability to videotape yourself and see how you present (with expert advice).

4. Ensure a strong cohort of Black, Latino and Asian talent in your mentoring and sponsorship programs. Monitor their progress.

It’s not enough to have the programs—you have to have the representation and you have to make sure the mentees are getting what they need to succeed. Don’t just check a box; really pay attention to how these initiatives are working. Ninety-two percent of Top 50 companies assess mentoring value by measuring retention, engagement and promotion rates of people from underrepresented groups in these programs.

At Sodexo (No. 2), mentoring relationships are evaluated constantly and the company, which received our Top Company for Mentoring award this year, cites its IMPACT program as part of its continued improvement in racial/ethnic and gender diversity in its management and senior-management ranks.

5. Develop strong relationships with relevant Black, Latino and Asian nonprofits.

Kevin Kimball, Marriott International
Kevin Kimball

Relationships are much more than writing checks. By finding talent through these groups, and giving back to them with your company’s own talent, you develop a deep-rooted network that also bolsters your own employees’ belief in your company’s support of its community. Go vertical and deep—Top 50 companies overwhelmingly narrow their philanthropic relationships to a few organizations whose mission dovetails with theirs.

For example, Marriott International (No. 16) has developed a strong relationship with the National Black MBA Association, including having an executive sponsor from Marriott, Executive Vice President of Finance Kevin Kimball, whose responsibility is to interface with the organization.

“I am an ambassador for this relationship inside and outside of Marriott,” he says, citing the company’s ability to provide speakers at conferences, host industry forums and encourage its members to support the organization.

Marriott has also been involved with the organization’s Leaders of Tomorrow, a program for 8,000 high-school students, and its Leadership Institute executive-development program.

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