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Are Your Organization’s Diversity Goals Just Window Dressing?

March 18, 2014

There’s plenty of talk in corporate America about the importance of diversity at the top of companies, and how such inclusion improves decision-making and risk management. But as Fortune reported on March 10, telling the difference between true commitment to diversity and mere window dressing can be difficult.

Corporate diversity programs have proliferated for decades, “aimed at filling the pipeline of talented women and racial minorities who could step into top executive and board roles,” the post said. But today more than a third of Fortune 500 companies have either one or zero women directors, according to the nonprofit organization Catalyst.

Women reportedly hold only 17 percent of corporate board seats, a figure that hasn’t changed in eight years. At the same time, White men hold 73 percent of Fortune 500 board seats, little changed over the last decade, according to the Alliance for Board Diversity.

Even when women and minorities have seats at the table, unless they have power over the bottom line, either as board members or as part of the senior leadership team, they’re likely to be considered token voices, Fortune wrote.

Deloitte reportedly tries to steer women and minorities toward profit-driving relationships from the beginning of their time at the firm. To have diverse leaders 10 years down the road, Chairman Punit Renjen said, “we’ve got to make sure they’re getting the right assignments, the right client experiences today.”  — Greg Beaubien



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