Recent findings from Network of Executive Women reveal stark differences in the experience of women of color in the workplace. With the intention to promote gender-and-ethnic-equal workplaces, the report includes strategies for employers looking to not only attain diverse talent, but retain it, too.
Assuming all women have the same experience is a major pitfall that will “marginalize the unique experiences and perspectives of women of color,” said Network of Executive Women president and chief executive officer Sarah Alter.
From surveying more than 3,600 network members and U.S. employees in retail and consumer goods across the ethnic and racial groups surveyed, two key influencers for retaining top talent were identified. An employer must cultivate a feeling of belonging as well as create a clear roadmap for success in long-term career development for women of color.
Unsurprisingly, more women of color are hired at the professional and technician level but less are promoted, thus creating issues with retaining diverse talent. And even those women who are hired and promoted at the managerial and executive level aren’t sticking around, either.
With a lower potential of advancing professionally, the optimism wanes.
While 50 percent of white women said they felt good about their ability to reach their goals, women of color told a different story. Only 47 percent of Hispanic women, 41 percent of black women and 38 percent of Asian women felt optimistic about their career aspirations.
Studies reveal women of color are projected to comprise a majority of women by 2060, yet opportunities for advancement into roles at the manager, senior manager and executive level is projected to decline over the next 10 years.
And from a retailing perspective, the buying power of women of color represents $1 trillion, with more than $361 billion in revenue generated each year from businesses owned by women of color.
“We can’t hire our way to diversity,” said intel chief diversity and inclusion officer Barbara Whye. Representing the underrepresented involves more than just fruitless spending on hiring without understanding the workplace stresses and biases directed at women of color that cause them to leave a company.
Reasons for high turnover include unconscious and conscious biases directed at one’s race or gender, causing some women of color to feel a need to “cover” aspects of their lives — including integral community, cultural and religious involvement.
In order to transform the workplace, strategic goals need to be aimed at providing a long-term career outlook and a feeling of belonging for women of color far past the point of hire.