America continues to grow more diverse. According to the most recent U.S. Census, minorities now account for more than 30% of the population. Despite this trend, there are still very few minorities in the C-suite. Why does this disconnect exist, and what can we do about it? A recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) explored this very issue. CTI published a research report that found that people of color often feel that they cannot be their authentic self at work. The article noted that more than 35% of African Americans and 45% of Asian Americans say they need to compromise their authenticity in order to fit into their company’s corporate culture. Some executives interviewed in the study even described themselves as living a double life. This study shows that although the workforce is growing increasingly diverse, stereotypes, bias, and prejudice still remains. The study also noted that almost 40% of African-Americans, 13% of Asians, and 16 % of Hispanics report experiencing discrimination in the workplace because of their ethnicity – compared to just 5% of white employees.
CTI proposed sponsorship as one way minorities can break through to the top. The study found that protégés of color are 65% more likely than those without a sponsor to be satisfied with their rate of advancement. If you find yourself in this situation, try seeking out a sponsor. You sponsor does not have to be a minority, and may not even be in the same department. A good sponsor will be someone who is willing to give you their time and support to help you advance. Something as simple as setting up monthly lunches could go a long way.