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Diverse Business Owners Industry Updates

You Can’t Climb a Broken Ladder

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Blacks are underrepresented in top leadership posts at major corporations, and McKinsey & Co. thinks this might be partly because they often miss access to an important rung on the career ladder.

In a recent report, McKinsey noted that Black workers represented 12% of entry-level positions at companies it studied. However, it added, “they are hobbled by a ‘broken rung’ on the corporate pipeline: They aren’t promoted from entry-level to managerial positions at the same rate as others. That broken rung, combined with higher attrition rates among Black employees, means that companies often lack Black leaders and miss out on the known benefits of diversity.”

That disconnect has an impact on who eventually becomes the chief executive of the business. There are only four Black CEOs at the head of Fortune 500 companies today. But if representation reflected Black population density, McKinsey speculated that Blacks would hold at least 60 CEO positions.

Together with other challenges such as high unemployment and underrepresentation in faster-growing, higher-paying jobs, “the scale of the issues facing Black U.S. workers is massive, and the roots of the problem are deep,” McKinsey said. “Many researchers see the challenges as rooted in the socioeconomic and racial history of the United States.”

McKinsey recommended the business community should do some serious self-reflection if it is serious about increasing diversity at higher corporate levels. “Business leaders should ask questions of their companies’ efforts,” it said. “What is the representation of Black workers in the company and in the communities where it operates? What unique capabilities does the company have? How can the company create a more welcome, supportive environment for its frontline and entry-level workers? Do the company’s employees genuinely care for one another?”

More statistics and observations from McKinsey can be found here.

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