The Philip Morris Lectures on Business and Society
February 19, 1992
The City University of New York
Published by Baruch College of The City University of New York
Office of Publications, Box 518
17 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10010
Copyright © 1993 Ann M. Morrison
Publishing and Editorial Consultant: Jeffrey Escoffier
Designer: Timonthy Jeffs
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Morrison, Ann M.
Developing leadership diversity in organizations / Ann M. Morrison
viii, 17 p. cm. -- (The Philip Morris lectures on business and society at Baruch College)
"February 19, 1992"
1. Executives--United States. 2. Minority executives--United States. I. Title. II.
Series: Philip Morris lectures on business and society at Baruch College.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication prepared by
Baruch College Library, Cataloging Division.
by Matthew Goldstein, President, Baruch College
by George Weissman, Retired Chairman,
Philip Morris Companies Inc.
and Chairman, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Diversity in Organizations
IN our time, the business of American business has become business and more -- much more! Enterprise presents a social as well as a commercial face to the market and to the public. The American corporation today is expected to address a wide range of public concerns, and in the process of doing this, it has transformed itself from being primarily a producer of goods and services to being an active participant in decisions of public policy and the realization of broad social goals. In spite of this remarkable change, the public's and the academy's understanding of the growing involvement by business in all aspects of social life is quite underdeveloped.
In order to explore these new issues, Baruch College launched the Program in Business and Society in 1986. The Philip Morris Companies Inc. generously supported the creation of this program and dedicated their gift in honor of George Weissman, a 1939 graduate of Baruch, who had served as chief executive officer of Philip Morris and as the chairman of its executive committee. Under the auspices of this program, from 1986 through 1992 the College invited a series of eleven distinguished speakers to address some of the most important developments in the changing relations of business to society.
These lectures have explored business and society without regard to the boundaries of traditional disciplines. It is an approach that represents a distinctly Baruch College perspective. Baruch is well?known for its large and highly regarded business school, But the excellence of its education and liberal arts and sciences Facultties is vital to its success. Baruch's mission has always been to integrate knowledge and scholarship from diverse disciplines. We are very much at home with a program that crosses traditional boundaries of knowledge.
Ann Morrison, the founder and president of the New Leaders Institute, examines the role of social diversity in American business. She is the author of The New Leaders: Guidelines on Leadership Diversity in America and the co-author of Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Can Women Reach the Top Of America's Largest Corporations? and The Lessons of Experience. How Successful Executives Develop on the job.
The other distinguished speakers who addressed Baruch's students and faculty and guests from New York's business community were Peter Caws, a well-known philosopher; Gordon Tullock, a pioneering economic theorist; Benjamin DeMott, an eminent cultural critic; George Konrad, a novelist and sociologist who has been an influential leader in Hungary's transition from communism to democratic capitalism; Jerzy Osiatynsky, Minister of Economics in postcommunist Poland; and Robert Reich, a widely recognized expert on the American economy and currently U. S. Secretary of Labor. I extend my personal gratitude and the appreciation of the entire Baruch community to all our eminent lecturers for their wit, their wisdom and their entry into lively debates with us.
All of us at the College are deeply grateful for George Weissman's sustained, generous, and loyal support of many College activities for over fifty years. He has been a friend and mentor to many of us at Baruch. We appreciate, too, the foresight and gracious munificence of the Philip Morris Companies Inc. in helping us to invite such eminent scholars to think anew about business and society and to share their insights first in lectures and now in print. It is a great privilege to be able, in this series of publications, to offer to a wider community some of the highlights of the lectures of the Philip Morris Program in Business and Society.
President, Baruch College
FROM its inception, I have been deeply honored by this lecture series exploring the relationships between business and society in a democracy. Baruch College has been a perfect place for such a series. Baruch has never kept either society or business at a distance. It has welcomed students from all parts of this city -- and now from around the world; it insists that they master the liberal arts as well as technical and professional skills; and it has successfully fostered strong programs that build bridges between the academic disciplines. In this tradition the lecture series was a college-wide venture: it belonged to no single department and its distinguished speakers represented a broad spectrum of knowledge, experience and background.
The goal of this lecture program was to create knowledge about business and society that might be truly helpful for all of us. Our distinguished guests were challenged to raise the most difficult questions and subject them to the most skull cracking analysis.
These lectures were established to supplant nostrums with knowledge, the kind of disciplined knowledge that is more useful (even if it isn't always comforting) than the platitudes and superficialities that assault our minds and our imagination.
A number of these lectures took account of the major and rapid transformations
to which American business has been subject. I have personally witnessed a good
deal of this ferment since I entered the business world just after World War
II. And change continues unabated. Structural changes in the economy affect,
and are interwoven with large scale changes in the community. There is no such thing as a one-sided coin.
In broad terms, the link between business and society falls under the general category of corporate responsibility. Our need to better understand the broadening agenda implied by this concept lies behind this series. Corporate social responsibility has proven to be an imaginative response by our democratic capitalist system to community problems. The growth of this concept (and it must continue to grow) is a key to generating ever new energies and new approaches to our concerns as they unfold. Our capitalist democratic system will survive because of its enormous ability to adapt to change and move ahead.
The Philip Morris Lecture Series on Business and Society, as is evident in these published lectures, has lived up to its promise to probe into our economic premises and offer us new perspectives. It has without a doubt contributed to Baruch's mission to educate young people to be good citizens, and in doing so, it has educated us all.
Philip Morris Companies Inc.
and Chairman, Lincoln Center for
the Performing Arts
DI V E R S I T Y is such a buzzword these days, and it means so many things to so many people. When people say they're going to be talking about diversity, you never know what to expect. I'm going to tell you what to expect from me when I talk about diversity.
I made the assumption that you are already aware that the world is a more diverse place. That is certainly not a major surprise to anyone here. A lot of what's done in diversity is called "awareness." It centers on trying to convince people that the work force and the marketplace are changing and that we've got to change with them. I'm not going to do that, because I think you've heard it too many times already. I'm not going to try to convince you that something needs to be done. My focus is what to do. We are organizing a conference at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, and one of our planning committee members said, "We need to title this conference `Now We're Aware, Now What?" A lot of people are aware, but they don't know what to do.
I'm also going to talk about leadership diversity, not just diversity. It is leadership diversity in the sense that diversity is a leadership issue. It's pretty obvious that we are looking at management of a resource the work force. It is a shrinking work force, a work force that's changing so dramatically that one requirement of lea"?` now and in the future, is to be able to manage that resource.
Another aspect of leadership diversity is integration within the leadership ranks. There is a qualitatively different kind of progress that can be made in developing diversity when the leadership ranks are themselves diverse. That is, we need to move away from the idea that there is a two?tier system and that diversity means down there somewhere, but not at my level.
Some people object strongly to the phrase "managing diversity" because it sounds like diversity is something ever so controllable by those on high. It isn't. Leadership diversity is a key to overall diversity, and it is emphasized in our research. There has to be integration within the leadership ranks in order to have role models, advocacy from within, and symbols of progress.
Partly because of my many years at the Center for Creative Leadership, I see leadership as being at the core of many diversity issues because what we're talking about is using the potential of people no matter what form it comes in. I see that as a leadership development issue finding talent, developing that talent and then putting it to work at the highest possible level. That is my focus. It may not be your focus, or even something you totally agree with, but I talk about leadership diversity for those reasons.
Our research, called the "GOLD Project" or "Guidelines on Leadership Diversity," was started in 1988. We interviewed nearly two hundred managers and executives at all levels in their organizations, from a variety of different backgrounds, of both sexes, and in both line and staff positions. We interviewed each one for about two hours, asking a number of questions about how they see the problems, the issues, the solutions, and what role they had in the solutions that were adopted. All of these managers and executives were from sixteen of what we consider to be the most progressive organizations based in the U.S. Twelve of them are corporations, some of which are headquartered here in New York. We also brought in education and government institutions because the feedback we got on earlier studies was, "Wait a minute, you do these research studies on corporate America and then we, in the public sector, don't know whether it applies to us." So we have the public and private sectors represented here.
The criteria we used for choosing the sixteen organizations are necessarily a bit vague. There is no single, objective criterion that I know of that captures what makes a company progressive. If you wanted to use a single numerical criterion you would rule out a lot of organizations. I don't know that we could have done a study if we set a numerical standard at the level we consider to be acceptable. We used some numbers, and more. We looked at the representation of white women and people of color within the management and leadership ranks of the organization. We also looked at what kinds of efforts and reputations were being built. We did this through networking and word of mouth.
We asked managers a lot of questions and collected a lot of data. It took much longer that I expected to figure out what it was that these managers told us, and to put it all together. People often want to know, "What was the biggest surprise?" I'll mention two Surprises. One won't be a surprise to many of you, and it is no longer a surprise to me. It has to do with the extreme difficulty of talking about this issue, even deciding what to call people. I've used about every term possible for nontraditional managers, and I use the term nontraditional to include women of color, men of color, and white women. That's controversial. I've used the term "minorities." I've used "people of color." I've used "Blacks," "Hispanics," "Latinos," and "Caucasians." I've used every term imaginable, and I always get into trouble. There is no acceptable terminology in this business, and that contributes to the awkwardness and the reluctance of people to even talk through the beginnings of solutions. That was a surprise to me.
The other surprise was that we had intended this research to be essentially a best practices study. We wanted to go to these organizational leaders and find out what they did that worked the kinds of diversity practices they were using that we could recommend: "This is a good practice, but avoid that one." We knew it wasn't going to be that simple, and we did have in mind getting?.t some of the elements or characteristics of diversity practices to determine which elements made a practice more or less effective, or which made a practice work in one place and not in another. That was our intent. We discovered as we were analyzing our data that it's even more difficult than that. There aren't necessarily good ingredients and bad ingredients of diversity practices; instead, the effectiveness of a set of practices used in an organization is a function of how the practices were arrived at.
This might not surprise anybody involved in organizational change. It's basic to the process of change. It is a major surprise to a great many people who were expecting an A list and a B list of practices. I think it is a surprise to people who think that, with all the expertise in these very sophisticated organizations, surely this process would not be shortchanged. It is. It's regularly shortchanged, and I think that happens because of the sensitivity of the issue, the emotionalism, and the difficulty of talking about it. There's a real reluctance to go through the basic steps of a change process, steps that we wouldn't even think twice about taking if we were dealing with customer service, or quality, or other kinds of issues, but not when we deal with the issue of diversity. It just makes everyone so terribly uncomfortable.
What we have then, in effect, is not a list of great practices and a list of awful practices, but rather a process that we've discovered to be probably the most effective tool for organizational change in developing diversity. That's the focus of my talk today.
The process that we discovered in our research has five steps. The first step is to discover, and then regularly rediscover, the current problems in your own organization. Step two is to strengthen top management commitment. Step three is to choose practices in a strategic way. Then, step four is to demand results from those efforts. Step five is to then build on progress to keep momentum going.
This is a nice, neat model that we've come up with. What happens in most cases, however, is that it doesn't work that way. It gets messy. Steps run into each other. You backtrack. You do a lot of things over again, and you make mistakes along the way. It works that way. It's a messy process. But the messy way is very difficult to describe, so I'm going to describe the process as if it works the nice, tidy way.
Step one is discovering and rediscovering current problems. Before doing anything else, investigate. Do detective work. Look for facts and data that indicate problems, as well as perceptions and opinions about what is going on. Some people simply go through organization records and find out what the promotion rates are. They will look at salary grades and pay within the grades. Many of those statistics reveal some bias in the system. But they need to go farther. Sometimes it doesn't matter what is really going on; what is important is how people perceive what's going on. The perceptual issues are as critical in many cases as what the data themselves show.
The discovery step is important because every organization is different. I will tell you about some of the diversity problems and solutions we found across the organizations we studied, but there is no substitute for doing your own investigation.
The top barriers to advancement that we found were a bit Surprising to me. I had read a great deal of research suggesting that if you ask people what the problems are you get two sets of responses. One set of responses is from traditional managers, white men in senior positions, who say the reason we don't have more diversity is because those people aren't as qualified. They aren't as prepared; they aren't as educated. That's the real reason. Research indicates that nontraditional people give a different response. The reason they give is that they're locked out. They're excluded. It's the "old boy" network that keeps them out.
We asked all of these one hundred and ninety?six managers, "Do you think there are problems? If so, what are they?" Their responses were remarkably similar. We asked white men, white women, black men, black women, Asian-American women and men, Hispanic women and men and they all said the same things. There are six major barriers that account for roughly half of all the problems cited for nontraditional managers to advance.
The number one barrier is prejudice. We use the word "prejudice" to describe the phenomenon of "different equals deficient." In other words, the perception is that if somebody looks different, or does things differently, it must not be as good. That's the number one barrier to advancement.
Not surprisingly, poor career development and planning also come up as a barrier to advancement. Much of it has to do with a lack of planning in the early years of a career, when people are stumbling around. Young managers don't have direction. They aren't getting advice and getting into the line jobs. They don't get into the field. They don't get those credibility?building experiences, and so later on they are not considered as candidates for senior jobs.
The lonely, hostile work environment for many people of color and for women in general is another barrier. They are isolated. Others are skeptical about them. They're scrutinized under a microscope. This still happens.
Nontraditional managers are also perceived to have fewer of the knowledge and skills that go into organizational savvy. This means not understanding the ropes and how things work, which is tied to isolation and lack of mentor relationships. This is a kind of organizational naivete, where you don't really know how to write a memo, when to write a memo, to whom to write a memo, how to lobby in the hallway and so on. Another barrier is the fact that people are most comfortable being with people like themselves. There's nothing necessarily wrong with human nature, but there is a dramatic impact on nontraditional managers when the people in control are white men who prefer to be with other white men.
Finally, career versus family conflicts create problems. This is an issue that still primarily affects women and is a problem for many.
I share this information not to tell you that these must be the problems in your organization, but only to suggest that these barriers are so prevalent across the organizations we studied that they may be worth considering when you design your own internal investigation. Investigation is important because problems are often mistakenly assumed. A great example of that is family conflicts. You saw it on our list, representing six percent of the barriers we identified. But many executives still assume that women leave organizations solely because they have problems balancing work and home. A study by Wick and Company showed that professional women leave for the same reasons professional men leave. They perceive a lack of career opportunities. Women at the professional and management levels don't leave strictly because of home-career conflicts. Yet a lot of solutions that have been developed to retain women have focused solely on making that balancing act a little easier. The career-family dilemma has been addressed as if it were the dominant problem, but it isn't. We assume problems and apply solutions to them, and it's not appropriate.
Another example of real versus assumed problems is that when we talked to managers about problems in diversity a lot of them said, "We can't find qualified candidates." Have you ever heard that? There's a real difference of opinion on this. On the one hand, some managers are saying that they can't find qualified nontraditional candidates because these people are not qualified. They don't have the right degrees. They don't have the right career-enhancing experiences or qualifications. Then there's another group of managers who say that they can't find qualified candidates because they're not really looking for them. When you have white men who are doing the screening, who are doing the word-of-mouth recruiting; who are making the selection decisions, is it a matter of qualifications, or is it a matter of looking? Solutions aimed at improving qualifications better education, scholarships, development programs are not going to solve the problem of not looking. Discovering the real problems behind the assumed problems is important.
Having a team be involved in the discovery process is important. This is no news to anybody involved with organizational change, but it's something that often gets overlooked. I usually recommend a diverse team to handle the investigation part of the process, a team that is representative in terms of sex, race, and function. It should be as diverse as it can be and still be a workable size. Even if consultants are coming in to take charge of the methodology there still needs to be a team involved at this point. This team may turn into an ongoing working group that carries out the process from step one of discovering problems to actually defining and implementing solutions.
A rather extreme example of a working group is a coalition formed in one of the companies we studied. It was comprised of representatives of the female employees' group, the black employees' group, the Hispanic employees' group, the Asian American employees' group, and a number of other groups. Their mandate was to identify the priorities the biggest diversity problem in the organization. After collecting lots of data and sorting through all of their opinions and the perceptions of others, they agreed that women of color had the biggest need of any group in the company. Women of color were doing worse than any other group in terms of promotions, pay, advancement opportunities, educational opportunities, whatever. This coalition agreed on a priority and then began steps to solve that problem. It is a rare event, for things to be quite that organized and systematic, but a team can do that sort of thing.
Step two is to strengthen top management commitment. "Wait a minute," you might ask, "why isn't that the first step?" Clearly, you've got to have some top management commitment if you're going to do any kind of assessment, but step two involves strengthening that commitment, building on it using the results of the investigation.
A lot of senior executives don't get any news about problems. They don't hear complaints from employees, so they assume everything's okay. It takes data to convince many senior executives that there is a problem, that it's this kind of problem rather than that kind of problem and that it's as serious as it is. Many executives don't seem to realize that people don't complain, not because they don't have anything to complain about, but because they have no hope of getting their complaint resolved.
Employees often don't see outlets in the organization to get help. They believe that their complaints won't be taken seriously or that there will be retaliation against them if they do complain. One of the best examples of this is sexual harassment. I believed for a while that we had conquered the sexual harassment problem, because the number of complaints decreased. Then, after Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill had their say, we learned that women were seething. Women weren't complaining because they didn't think it would do any good. The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas case revealed what happens when women do complain about sexual harassment. In short, no news is not necessarily good news.
An interesting problem we see in many organizations is that active, concerned top managers want to do something to destroy inequities. They're very decisive and, in fact, they take action fast. Unfortunately, this is a problem because these top executives sometimes make the wrong choices. They are so action oriented that they don't necessarily see the whole picture. They don't necessarily wait to get all the information, and what they do is not necessarily what a taskforce or another group of employees within the organization would do. Their solution, even if it is a good one, may not have the acceptance of others.
One characteristic of executives who are effective in dealing with diversity is that they are responsive to other people. They do not take total, immediate control of the situation; instead, they listen to other people and sponsor other's ideas. They must resource these ideas so that they can get done what they have to do, not necessarily what they would do if they had their way. This is very difficult for senior executives to do and yet very necessary if we are going to build in systemic solutions to many problems that people see.
Another question I frequently get is, "What if we don't have supportive top management? If My CEO is only willing to give lip service, what do I do?" Short of leaving, there are some options, but again experts disagree about what the optimal solutions are. Some experts are now saying that true corporate change may not require top management commitment, and even that it may not be possible for meaningful change to start at the top of the corporate hierarchy. They argue that many of the radical changes that have been made in corporations were started in pockets of the corporation -- a division, a subsidiary, or a region. It may be that all you really need from the very top of the organization is tolerance. Lip service may be just fine if you have the leeway to do things at these other levels that have the potential to catch on and maybe to move up into the higher levels.
The only characteristic shared by all sixteen organizations we studied was top management commitment. In several cases, the top management commitment was not at the national level or at the corporate level, but was at the region, division or subsidiary level. It is dangerous to say we don't really need top management's support, we can make it on our own. It's also dangerous to say I'm not going to make a single move until I get the CEO's support. We need committed champions at the top, but we may interpret "top" differently.
Step three in the change process is, for many people, their first step. Step three is choosing a mix of diversity practices to use. This is where it seems we all like to start. We've seen a number of case studies and have a sense of what the options are, and we want to take immediate action to fix the problems. We found fifty?two different types of diversity practices used in progressive organizations, with ten or twenty or more used at the same time. How do you pick these practices? On what basis should you choose to take this set and not that set?
On the way here I read about a survey of practices being used in companies to help employees stop smoking. The survey showed that the tools that were most frequently used were the tools most frequently evaluated as ineffective. For example, handing out "stop smoking" literature was used by the majority of companies surveyed, but most respondents also said that this literature didn't do any good. The tools for which the effectiveness ratings were higher were those used by only six to ten percent of the companies surveyed. Choosing the tools to use is very difficult. There is a tendency to adopt practices that other organizations are using, yet that may prove to be totally ineffective.
We need some guidance on how to select diversity practices. Basically, once you've identified the problem, you should match remedies to that problem. Even that can be difficult. A recent Catalyst report showed that the problems identified for women by CEOs and by human resource executives were not addressed. The problems had to do with career development -- being excluded from certain assignments or in the succession planning process and so on -- yet the practices that they reported were not tied to those kinds of problems.
The culture is a factor. If the organization is one that, for example, has placed a great deal of value on job rotation over the years, then job rotation represents a viable way of integrating management, more so in that organization than in one where job rotation has not traditionally been used. If an organization has traditionally valued ties with the community and community development, then tools such as partnerships with education represent viable tools. The culture needs to be factored into solutions.
Strategic balance is another factor in choosing solutions. There are so many possible combinations of tools that can be used having more than twenty practices in an organization is not unusual. How do you make those choices?
We sorted diversity practices into three groups. One is recruitment, including incentives for recruitment and scholarships that foster recruitment. One is development, a forgotten step in many companies that are now realizing, "We got them in but now we've got to spend more on developing them." The third group is accountability tools, such as compensation and performance review practices. These three groups are helpful, but in themselves they don't do enough to create a strategy for choosing a mix of practices. A better way is to look at practices in terms of three goals?education, enforcement, and exposure.
We have relied on education for many years. Education takes a great deal of time, because we are trying to change attitudes. Education involves making traditional managers aware of the value of diversity and how to develop diversity. Education also involves preparing and developing nontraditional managers to be candidates for higher-level positions.
The problem is that education isn't working. It takes decades, even generations, to change attitudes about race and sex, and the educational programs haven't been enough. Surveys of young people show that racist and sexist attitudes haven't changed nearly as much as we would have expected. The American Association of University Professors study that just came out shows a sex difference in educational opportunities, because of bias in school systems. Education isn't enough. Yet many of the tools used in organizations rely on education to change attitudes and thus change behavior. Education ought to be a part of a diversity strategy, but we have leaned too heavily on education and have been consistently disappointed.
Another part of the strategy involves enforcement. Essentially, enforcement says, "I don't care what you think, here's what I want you to do. I don't care if you're racist or sexist, I want you to develop nontraditional employees, to promote them, to do fair performance appraisals, and so on. I want you to change your behavior. Now." Some education is important in terms of making that happen, because it works together with enforcement. Enforcement covers many of the accountability tools and involves changing the system to give managers incentive to change their behavior and not just their attitudes.
The third piece of the strategy is exposure, and many of the recruitment tools are aimed at exposure. This piece addresses the tremendous discomfort of working and being with people who are different. Recruitment practices aim to change that by helping managers become more familiar with people who are different, by working side by side with them. In many cases, that exposure has a tremendous personal impact on individuals that all the theoretical education in the world cannot match.
It is important to adopt a set of practices that strikes a balance among education, enforcement, and exposure. That is an important balance at the strategic level. There is another kind of balance that may be equally important to achieve in a mix of practices, one that is geared more toward the individual level than the systemic level. Many diversity problems have to do with failing to develop leadership talent and underusing the potential of people. We need to balance three elements to foster sustained leadership development--challenge, recognition, and support.
In executive development we have put all of our eggs into the challenge basket.
We know that challenge forces people to grow. The research I did for our book,
The Lessons of Experience, and other projects, showed that if you want
to develop leadership, you stretch people, make them uncomfortable, let them
do things they've never done before that they're afraid of doing. The key developmental
assignments, such as starting from scratch or troubleshooting, that are built
into replacement planning and executive development programs are meant to stretch
people, to get them to do things that are beyond what they have ever done before.
They are meant to challenge them. We forget when we take that model and try
to apply it to nontraditional managers that the same assignments are
even more challenging for them. The degree of difficulty is higher than it would be for a traditional manager in a traditional setting, because nontraditional managers are not only facing the challenges inherent in the work, but they are facing issues like prejudice, isolation, and possibly poor early career development. For
example, they have to develop good relationships with their boss and peers who may have racist or sexist attitudes. Nontraditional managers deal not only with the demands of operating in a "normal" setting, but because they are often the only one of their kind in that setting, they face more challenges that are potentially more
Two other components balance the challenge component: recognition and support. These two components are often assumed in a traditional leadership development model. We focus on challenge, and we figure that if managers do well, they'll be rewarded, promoted and accepted. That isn't true for many nontraditional managers. For them, the challenge part is enormous yet they get less recognition and support. And we wonder why those people leave. We wonder why they burn out, or opt out. We need to do a better job of balancing these three components.
I'd like to make a point about inclusive versus exclusive development programs. Many managers have learned that creating special programs for special groups of managers (women, blacks, people of color, women of color, or whatever) alongside traditional programs fuels backlash and generates incredible resistance. There is a credibility problem with exclusive programs, and all sorts of issues are raised using that kind of strategy.
My recommendation is to favor inclusive practices whenever possible by doing things that are going to help everybody and help reduce backlash. That doesn't mean we have to limit ourselves to those, because in many cases they won't adequately address the inequity. But I do think inclusive activities are worth considering, because backlash is such a serious problem and excluding whites or men automatically guarantees backlash.
Demanding results is the fourth step. This is the idea that what gets measured is what gets done. It is absolutely essential to have statistical or numerical goals. There is no substitute for that kind of data, which can be used to make expectations clear.
Organizations are moving away from the traditional numerical measures that are rather thoughtless and meaningless. I don't want to blame the government for everything, but I think a lot of the government regulations on affirmative action have not been helpful. They've been too vague and not tied to any kind of meaningful action on the part of managers. But the statistics that are monitored in the progressive organizations we studied are ones that have been developed internally for the situation they face. For example, there are managers who are responsible, not for a certain number of promotions of nontraditional managers each year, but for a certain percentage of the available promotions, the ones that are within their control. In some organizations, managers are responsible for promoting or developing employees who are in the "high potential" pool. Many companies keep track of their "hi-pos" separately from employees in general because it is more meaningful and manageable. They can track them using numbers, and they can also give them a lot of individual attention, because they've narrowed the scope of the job.
Many creative things are being done in model organizations to permit numerical measures without asking too much of managers and without alienating them. But numbers aren't enough. A lot of people are very unhappy if we only measure advancement. They say that by only tracking upward mobility we are assuming that up is the only good way, but everybody doesn't want to move up. Other measures also need to be used such as morale, job satisfaction, quality of management and other factors that can be gotten at largely through attitude surveys.
Our expectations of what managers can do also need to be realistic for numerical goals to be useful. When I was working on the topic of performance appraisal, sometimes the expectations of managers in terms of their ability to be skilled evaluators or career counselors were pretty absurd. The same is true here. We can't expect managers to be responsible for the number of vice presidents if they don't hire vice presidents. We can't expect managers to do things for which they have not been trained. Adequate preparation and realistic expectations have to be considered in setting reasonable goals for results.
The final step in developing diversity is to use building blocks to build on
what we've already done. Some of the more successful organizations have done
incredible publicity on their progress, even advertising in magazines like Black
Enterprise. These organizations are saying, "We can do it. We have done
it." They put pressure on themselves. They raise expectations of recruits,
of their own employees, and of the media. It can be very effective, but it is
a very high?risk strategy because you're putting yourself out there in the open,
saying, "You watch us, just watch us." If you don't keep up the momentum,
they're going to do more than watch you.
The final point about using building blocks is to add diversity to diversity. We have looked at diversity in terms of ethnicity and sex. That is certainly not the extent of diversity. There are many organizations now that want to be globally competitive. One challenge is to take what we have learned about integrating domestic diversity and apply those lessons to our overseas operations. Another challenge is to see if we can apply what we're learning about sex- and race-based issues to issues of the physically challenged or to sexual orientation or the many other kinds of diversity issues. The true goal of developing diversity is to deal with people as individuals at least as much as we deal with them as members of a cultural or other group.
These are the five steps in a diversity change effort. These five simple steps took us about two years to identify. There's nothing magical or mystical about them. They are standard in most change efforts. However, the sensitivity and the history of diversity, and the raging arguments that are going on about various aspects of diversity, make this simple five-step process one that's very difficult to carry out. We hope that, once people are more conscious of the entire process, they will stay more on track. We want to get more organizations to go through the whole process, instead of trying to save steps, to be efficient without being thorough, which jeopardizes the entire initiative. That is what we hope to accomplish through this work.
ANN M. MORRISON is the founder and president of the New Leaders Institute in San Diego. She is the author of The New Leaders: Guidelines on Leadership Diversity in America (1992) and the co-author of Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Can Women Reach the Top of America's Largest Corporations? (1987, and revised in 1992) and The Lessons of Experience: How Successful Executives Develop on the Job (1988).