Leadership Mobility: Why Succession Without “Development Equity” Will Never Diversify Leadership

We have a leadership mobility problem. Although Black Americans comprise 13.4% of the population, they only hold 3.2% of advanced leader positions. Women represent 50.8% of the population but only 26.5% of advanced leaders.

Lack of exposure to senior leaders and a lack of sponsorship due to unconscious bias are the culprits, not ambition or ability. So, if underrepresented groups are continually overlooked, how are they expected to advance? The answer is, they won’t without “development equity.”

Development equity means equal access for women and minorities to formalized, career-enhancing development opportunities. It’s not that most organizations have a leadership track they’re preventing underrepresented populations from joining. It’s that many organizations don’t even have adequate formal processes for developing in-house talent into future leaders. So they look to talent acquisition.

But over-reliance on talent acquisition for diversity objectives doesn’t increase total representation; it just shifts a limited number of people from one organization to another. It also reinforces the disheartening realization in your employees that there’s no leadership career path available unless they leave.

Business models are changing. The capabilities tomorrow’s leaders need are changing. That means your talent pool needs to be even larger to ensure you have the right person with the right skills at the right time in the right level of your organization.

Not every employee wants to become a manager or executive. But the opportunities should be equitable for those who do. Investing in diversifying your talent pool and formalizing internal pathways to leadership will be a competitive advantage, giving you immediate access to the very leaders you’ll need to take your organization into tomorrow and beyond.

Our Founder & CEO, Stephen Bailey, recently wrote an article for Forbes explaining more about succession and development equity. To read the full article, click here.

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