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en in senior management can often mean better decisions, higher profits, stronger share price, more prudent risk taking and a well-rounded, thoughtful and effective management team?


Apparently not. There seems to be a mirror theory at work


again. For example, most board seats and senior executive po- sitions tend to be filled with Caucasian men who often like to work with people who look like them, act like them and share the same values that they do. Subtle biases and stereotypes are clearly at work here. Many studies have demonstrated these biases, but one study in particular found that female leaders had to be perceived as both strong and sensitive to be consid- ered effective. Male leaders only had to be perceived as strong.


Another issue that’s worth exploring is the case of the “to-


ken” female leaders. When a woman makes it to a leadership position, she is usually a “token” (i.e. a numerical minority representing 15 percent or less of the total number in a group). Tokens are constantly thrust into stereotypical roles and can feel more pressure to conform to the business environment. Tokens are also more isolated, have fewer opportunities to be sponsored and can face misperceptions of their identity. At the same time, those members of the dominant group tend to maintain boundaries, exaggerating group differences. This suggests high-level women managers often do not ac-


tively promote or encourage other women fearing competition from them. So the fact that you’re a highly capable manager and leader, might become obscured by all the other organiza- tional politics you might be forced deal with in order to get your job done.


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How can this complex problem be fixed? There are a number of solutions. For companies to get


started in the right direction – here’s a list of tips for increas- ing diversity in the workplace: „ Fill the pipeline. „ Make the business case for diversity. „ Root out bias and subtle stereotypes from the hiring and appraisal process, as well as in the organization’s culture.


„ Sponsor group training and problem solving event. „ Expand the pool of talent from which your organization recruits.


„ Remove the barriers to success. In sum, the real impetus to get more women to senior lev- els has to come from the very men who are subconsciously holding them back. It takes a very courageous and self-as- sured man to promote strong and effective women into senior management roles. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take 70 more years to find those men. “The Strong, Sensitive Type: Effects of Gender Stereo- types and Leadership Prototypes on the Evaluation of Male and Female Leaders.” S.K. Johnson, S.E. Murphy, S. Zewdie and R.J. Reichard. Organizational Behavior and Human Deci- sion Processes, Vol. 106, Issue 1, May 2008, pp. 39-60.


Source: DiversityBusiness.com 44 Celebrating over 15 Years of Embracing Diversity www.blackeoejournal.com 29 The Black E.O.E. Journal


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