How Can You Love Them Let Us Count the Ways ...

May 1, 2000
Last year's Korn/Ferry-Columbia Business School study of minority executives suggests ways companies can retain high-achieving executives of color. Tell managers to look out for the following:

  • Make sure there's internal corporate support from superiors who uphold career goals of minorities and who give timely and specific feedback about performance.
  • Construct job opportunities and roles so that minorities make an impact on the broader picture of the organization and can contribute to decisions and strategy, problem solving, and policy making.
  • Understand that creating an organization that is supportive of differences and that properly manages tension is key to innovation and productivity.
  • Determine the comfort level and readiness of companies to hear from minorities who communicate their needs openly and affirmatively.
  • Build a workplace community that supports open dialogue to discuss perceived discrimination that could impede minority advancement.

The study also suggests ways for individual employees to support their own positions. Pass the word around to those who need to know:

  • Develop or build on good relationships with superiors and request feedback on job performance at least once a year. Get specific information on your work and your career goals.
  • Find and identify an informal mentor who is willing to advocate for upward mobility within the organization, share informal rules and norms of the workplace, and facilitate access to networks and career opportunities.
  • Identify informal rules of the company that are helpful in navigating through the organization.
  • Build on a set of self-management skills, including the ability to overcome potential roadblocks, remain focused on tasks, and match time with priorities.

Workforce, April 2000, Vol. 79, No. 4, p. 52.