I gave a presentation on the above topic in 2005, then again in 2009, but I geared it towards hospitals and health care. That’s because I know from personal interaction that hospitals are pretty bad at this, no matter how much every administrator I’ve ever mentioned it to tries to say it’s not true. If it weren’t true, we’d definitely see a better balance across the board, especially with minorities in leadership positions… it’s just not there.

Diversity under God - by Mimitalks, inspired by events of this week
mimitalks, married, under grace via Compfight

I’ve decided to write about all the topics I brought up but broaden the scope so it’s not just about health care. Health care hasn’t gotten any better I’m sorry to say, but other industries are going through the same type of thing. Even technology; all we have to do is read any stories about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley to know that women and minorities are not only fighting an uphill battle to get into leadership positions, but to just get into the door.

The only part of the presentation I’m not going to go over, which I brought up in the seminars, was when I talked about my own long time mentor, whose name was Chuck Conole. It’s easier for me to link to what I wrote about it back in 2006; wow, that’s a pretty long time ago!

This is going to be a multiple article discussion because I already know that if I made it one article it would probably be longer than the longest piece I’ve ever written for a blog, which was over 5,800 words. I think it would make things easier for those who are interested in the topic to be able to see it in chunks.

I think this is important, especially as we’re heading into the latter part of this particular decade. There’s a lot of things about to change, and I know that I’d feel better if some of the people who are going to be the future leaders in this country were trained better and ready to accept the mantle of leadership.

A. The Reality of Employee – Management Disenfranchisement

This part is definitely about me because I’ve seen a lot in the 35 years I’ve been in the job market. I’m one of the lucky ones in that I got into leadership positions while being a minority.

You know what? Except for one year out of all these years, whenever I had leadership responsibility or was doing my independent consultant thing, I was always the only black person in leadership.

The first time I was in leadership I was an assistant supervisor, and that made me the highest ranking minority in the hospital… almost 600 beds at the time. The second time was for a physician’s billing company and it was just me. The third time there was a period of a year where another black person was hired. The fourth time I was alone; that was the last time I was a full time employee.

succession planning

Then I got into consulting. The first assignment was only for a month in Dallas, and I kept getting stared at by people in the two hospitals I visited. I learned that there was only one black person in any of the positions of leadership, and he was an assistant supervisor in the supply area. The second hospital system I worked at in New Jersey had none. The third hospital system I worked at in Westchester County had none… I think that’s enough to highlight what I’m used to seeing.

Not that there were never any minorities along the way. There were also plenty of women; health care is generally pretty good there, except for C-suite positions. In Texas there were Hispanic leaders, though not that many. In New Jersey there was one African. In New York City the CEO was black as well as a couple other C-level personnel, and the assistant director I had was Latino, but all the other leadership positions were bereft of minorities… and this was in Harlem!

B. Reasons why Succession Planning is Important

I could write a book on just this topic, but no one would want to read it. Instead, I’m going to list a number of reasons why this should be seen as a major deal, but remember to tie them all to leadership:

1. By 2030, there will be more minorities in the United States than the group that’s in the majority now. That number isn’t going to slow down; it’s going to continue growing, and fast.

2. The number one “minority” group in the country is women, at around 52%. They hold 51.5% of all managerial positions in the United States, but only 4% of top leadership positions in the S&P 500 (while they hold 12% of board level positions worldwide). They make 72% of every dollar that men make.

3. The biggest reason I’ve ever been given for why there aren’t any (or more) minorities or women in top leadership positions is that there aren’t any who are qualified for the positions.

4. When I wrote my book Embrace The Lead back in 2001, a survey said that around 85% of people who were in leadership positions had never led anything else before. The closest thing I can find to that which is current states that 36% or organizations state they don’t have a true leadership strategy while 34% said their strategy is average at best. If those are the numbers across the board, imagine what they have to be for women and minorities.

Although I do leadership training programs, truth be told it’s probably not the best way overall to train and create the best leaders within an organization. The best way to create new and qualified leaders is to have a mentoring program, an evaluation process for finding talented people, and a succession policy to help facilitate the training and education of those who might not otherwise be given advancement opportunities. If the program is set up properly it could be all inclusive as well.

This is the first post in the series; more to come.
 

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