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Monday, April 30, 2007

Diversity at the top (or lack of it?)

Today's Miami Herald carried a smart article called Diversity at the Top that highlighted a nauseating reality: Even with a diverse South Florida population, Hispanics and blacks remain rarities in the upper ranks of companies. And, South Florida still lacks in the number of women senior executives and board members.
In the paper version of the article, faces peer out at me, diverse faces of some of the minorities and women who are senior executives at South Florida companies. What's missing? Black women. I've heard from these women over the years and their stories are ugly. Frustrated by lack of opportunities, by low-end assignments and by lack of networking opportunities, these women leave companies to start their own successful businesses. It's a chicken and egg scenario: Are women and minorities not advancing because they give up to become entrepreneurs or are they giving up because they aren't welcomed into executive suites and have found a suitable alternative to an emotionally consuming fight?
The only glimmer of hope I see comes from a statement made by Seabourn Cruise Line CEO Pamela Conover who told reporter Niala Boodhoo "Today there is an effort by women, whether formally or informally to try and assist their female colleagues. It is a different atmosphere from when I entered the workforce 30 years ago, where it was very much survival and you were doing everything you could to get on."
I would like to believe Conover. I would like to think that all women and minorities are willing to reach out and pull up those below them. If Conover is right, we stand a chance at reaching diversity at the top!

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