Issues with Diversity

By Elizabeth Millard  |  Posted 2008-05-28 Print this article Print

The wave of retirement by the Baby Boom generation is expected to have a large impact on executive-level jobs of all kinds, finds a recent survey.

Not Celebrating Diversity
Another survey result that should draw attention is the dearth of women and minorities at the C-level throughout the world.

Women have “cracked the glass ceiling,” Fuller says, but are still a long way from breaking through. Only about 20 percent of the C-suite is female, which Fuller says is not a surprising statistic on its own, except when a deeper look is taken at what that number comprises.

Half of the 378 companies that responded to the survey had no women at all in their C-suites, meaning the other half of companies must have about 40 percent of women in those upper decks. The lack of any women in the top levels of management at the responding companies is dismaying, Fuller believes.

In terms of ethnic minority candidates, Fuller isn’t surprised that only around 10 percent hold a position in the C-suite, considering that minorities have faced numerous challenges in finding spots in the upper echelon open to them. But what is eyebrow-raising, notes Fuller, is that 71 percent of respondents indicated that no diversity strategy is in place at the upper management level, and 86 percent don’t anticipate any diversity changes, meaning not only that are there no minorities on the job, but no plans are in place to begin being more inclusive in the next few years.

“Race and ethnicity in hiring are not nearly as important in other parts of the world as in the U.S.,” Fuller says. But they deserve to become more prominent, in part as a response to hiring, but also because a diverse talent pool can increase market share among multicultural customers and create a corporate reputation for social responsibility, the survey’s findings note.

Fuller admits that the news about a talent gap could prove beneficial for IMD in the near future, but looking at the long term, he advises companies to start thinking about how they’ll replace their C-suite executives as more Boomers retire, and to consider widening their searches to include more diverse candidates.

“Regardless of whether it’s a social issue, the fact is that organizations are ignoring a potential talent pool out there,” he says. “Already, it’s a very tight talent market, and it’s only going to get worse as turnover keeps happening and Boomers leave. More companies need a proactive hiring strategy, or they’ll be in trouble.”

Lessons Learned

As the results of the IMD International Search Group survey indicate, a deficit in superior talent that's intensified by a retiring baby boomer population is a critical issue facing global organizations. IMD believes CEOs and management boards must make talent acquisition a top priority. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Proactive bench building
  • Succession planning driven from the top
  • Building a true talent brand
  • Creating a culture that makes “employer of choice” a critical corporate value
  • Expanding the talent pool by increasing diversity
  • Adopting and implementing a diversity policy that is endorsed and signed by the CEO.

Source: IMD International Search Group


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