A Glimpse into the Upcoming Research on Bias in the Leadership Pipeline
As an organization striving for excellence and success, it is important that the people that make the place are qualified, diverse, high performers, and great leaders. For this reason, identifying and selecting high-potential employees for leadership positions and succession should be based on objective data and not gut feelings. Talent decisions based on subjective judgments are prone to bias and undermine fairness and opportunities for qualified individuals who don’t “look the part”. Too often, women and minorities fall victim to this self-perpetuating cycle and it is one of the main reasons why we still see a diversity gap in leadership.
About Our Research Study
To investigate this issue, we partnered with researchers from Purdue University and George Mason university to conduct a study about bias in the leadership pipeline. Historically, the system and processes for selecting future leaders have been largely driven by management. Managers chose, based on their own subjective judgement, who they think would make a good future executive. However, most managers hold stereotypes they are unaware of (unconscious bias) influencing them to select and groom more White men for leadership roles. Inevitably, this leads to women and racial [RH1] minorities being prevented from accessing valuable developmental opportunities that would allow them the opportunity to compete at the time of promotion.
The “Broken Rung”
According to research conducted by Mckinsey & Company and LeanIn, the issue lies at what was termed the “broken rung”. The broken rung refers to the inability for women to take the first step up to frontline management, despite similar qualifications, education, and work experience. Many women and minorities are prevented from accessing important developmental opportunities, as they are continuously stuck in entry level roles. With time, fewer and fewer women and minorities make it into the selection pools for hiring and promotion to subsequent management roles.
We hypothesized that the crack in the broken rung is due to unconscious bias when managers identify the next generation of leaders. This bias can be seen in the disproportionate amount of women and minorities identified as having potential for leadership. In fact, we found that men are 3 times more likely to be identified as having leadership potential than women, and White men are 2 times more likely to be identifies as having leadership potential than Black men.
A Powerful Case
Many organizations have focused on tackling unconscious bias and discrimination in hiring decisions. But as the war for talent has forced organizations to grow future leaders from within, now is the time to start combating bias and discrimination in post-hire talent decisions, such as identification of high-potential employees and succession planning. Repairing this crack in the rung will ensure that women and minority groups can equally benefit from the special training and resources only reserved for high-potential employees and successors, and consequently be given an equal chance to compete for a promotion.‹ Previous PostNext Post ›