Most corporate leaders now understand that in today’s business environment, companies must achieve diversity if they want to acquire and retain talent, build employee engagement, and improve business performance. (See “How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation,” BCG article, January 2018.) But many leaders still have blind spots regarding diversity. They underestimate the obstacles confronting an employee of a diverse group, perceiving a workplace with far less bias than actually exists. They launch programs that they think will yield improvements, but their decisions are based on gut instinct rather than proven results. Unless they acknowledge their blind spots, these leaders won’t make meaningful progress.
In fact, members of diverse groups do see things differently. Because they have first-hand experience of the daily biases that keep them from staying at an organization and rising through the ranks, they see more obstacles across the entire employee life cycle: recruiting, retention, advancement, and the commitment of leaders.