You are on page 1of 10

Diversity in Leadership

Reuel Bautista
Ruben G. Flores, MPA, MBA, Ph.D. ( c )
South Texas College
ORGL 3311 Issues in Organizational Leadership

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 1
Abstract

Great inequalities between occupational minorities and the majority is an ongoing problem in the
western world. White men are revered as leaders while women and ethnic minorities are lucky to
even be considered. While we have diversity in the workplace, the upper management and
leadership are extremely lacking. As diversity continues to grow and society adopts a more
progressive attitude, females and ethnic minorities should see an increase in population within
the leadership positions.

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 2

Introduction
The world has always consisted of men dominated societies. In the Western hemisphere,
it is white men that rule civilizations and the various aspects of it. Occasionally, we are treated
with an anomaly. In these occurrences, ethnic minorities and/or women are put at the helm of
organizations and industries as leaders or heads of society. However, these are out of the norm
expectations. Occupational minorities and women are often sectioned off from leadership
positions and are faced with more obstacles and barriers that their white male counterparts. Not
until recently have the United States electorate considered serious women candidates as our head
of state. It was not until 2008 that we have had our first ethnic minority president. When we look
down the two aisles of congress, the sea of white men have been flavored with hints of women
individuals and Hispanic, African American, and the occasional Asian politicians. The business
and political world seems to be more diverse. The question is whether society has actually
progressed to a point where women and minority leadership are in fact more widely accepted. As
the western society becomes more progressive and exceedingly more diverse, ethnic minorities
and women are given more opportunities and greater headways to climb their way into
managerial or leadership positions than ever before in a local, business, or political setting.
Literature Review
According to Susan E Perkins (2013), men have predominantly dominated the leadership
roles for most of history. Females have had limited opportunities to show their worth in the
leadership role especially in the aspect of national leaders. Often times, only by death of a
husband or an unavoidable circumstance are women thrust into a position of power. Perkins
explains that in the last decade, more women have ascended into elected offices for various
nations all across the globe. Nations such as South Korea, Liberia, and Germany are among a

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 3

group of nations that have elected women as their head of state. Perkins believed that national
leaders have a responsibility towards their constituents to further the growth of their respective
country’s economy and development. She explains that while the difference in performance
between men and women in political leadership positions remains unknown, there is a merit and
an undeniable stylistic change in women’s leadership than their male counterparts. Perkins
argues they are more democratic, transformative, and inclusive as a leader. The United States, in
the span of 44 presidents, has no history of a woman president and has only had 44 women
serving in the U.S senate. As arguably the world’s largest economy have had little experience
with women leadership, Perkins seeks to find a correlation between women leadership and
economic growth depending on the ethnic diversity of a nation. Perkins gathered data from 188
nations to be informed each nation’s history of a woman leader, ethnic diversity, and GDP in 55
the span of 55 years from 1950 to 2004. While measuring the correlation between the ethnic
diversity and GDP growth of the 188 nations, Perkins found a trend that countries with higher
ethnic diversity have a slower growth than a less diverse nation. She also found that on average,
men and women performed as leaders on a similar level. However, her study shows that nations
with a high ethnic diversity have a 6.6 percent GDP growth rate when led by a female. Liberia, a
nation with high ethnic diversity, scored 14.55 percent on the predicted GDP growth rate if led
by a woman while men leaders have an estimated score of -1.89 percent. Perkins found that
women leaders are most effective in areas with an environment that empower the workers, are
inclusive, and have a high sense for collaboration. Perkins argues that her findings suggests that
changing landscape of global attitudes towards female leaders give increasing chances for
women to enter national leadership roles. Despite these results, she believes that women are still
facing great challenges for the goal of leadership equality.

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 4

Another article written by Melanie Evans (2015), in her efforts to list the top 25 women
in healthcare for the year 2015, presents similar attitudes towards women leadership as Perkins
from the previous paragraph. Even in the healthcare system, a women dominated labor force by a
ratio of 3 to 1, have less women in CEO positions and are paid a lower median salary by 20%
than men with similar education and experience backgrounds. She argues that there are massive
inequalities that need to be breached for the betterment of healthcare system. Evans argues that
there are no shortages in qualified female executives as women account for roughly half of the
graduates from law and medical school, and a third of MBA graduates. She believes that changes
are required and that there needs to be a great effort to develop and promote opportunities for
women to reach the top echelons in leadership and management position for the healthcare
system. Evans states that career development and mentorship programs are needed to create
diversity as diversity in the upper management is a necessity for improvements in investment
decisions and healthcare as a whole.
Similarly, an article, written by Alison Cook and Christy Glass (2009), echoes similar
support to the idea of female mentorship to increase diversity in upper management of
organizations. Cook and Glass argues that a greater proportion of influential women directors in
a board increases the chances of a woman being appointed as a CEO as well as increasing the
CEO performance of a woman. They believe that gender diversity in the higher echelons of the
organizations can result in an even higher increase of gender diversity and a greater success of
female CEOs. Their findings from data they have collected suggests similar responses to their
hypothesis. Their findings suggests that board composition is necessary for increasing the
chances of a female appointee as a CEO and for their success in leadership after the appointment.
Women are less likely to be appointed CEO with a board lacking in gender diversity, and an

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 5

unsupportive board can lead to a suffering on the female CEO performance. Board diversity is
absolutely critical in organizations that look to include female leadership as a CEO or other
upper management positons.
Next, we explore a paper written by DeMarcus Pegues (2010) that challenges the
common concepts of prototype leadership. Pegues understand that society needs to move away
from a unidimensional understanding of leadership to a more multidimensional process. Many
leaders are praised for abiding to the standard way of thinking and the standard operation in the
leadership process. Adaptation of a different leadership culture or way of thinking in a leadership
concept is often frowned upon and met with many with many negative connotations. Prototype
leaders often neglect and dismiss innovations that are results of a leader or an individual from
differing ethnic backgrounds. The unidimensional understanding prompts an idea that ethnic
minorities are expected to meet the standards and norms set by the majority, which are often
white men, to behave within the strict role identities. Stigmatized groups are often classified by
their minority status, lower societal and hierarchical status, and negative stereotypes related to
the group’s work aptitude in leadership. He argues that different ethnic groups have different
experiences and attitudes towards aspects society that are unique to the different socialization
and development process of the differing ethnic groups. This leads to a myriad of differing
leadership and confrontational strategies. As diversity in the United States increases, the higher
need to obtain leaders from ethnic minorities to understand and appreciate the attitude and
leadership differences in order to create effective leadership styles for an organization.
To add to the topic of ethnic diversity, Frank Lowe (2013) expands on the topic of the
barriers and obstacles that ethnic minorities face in the attempt to assimilating in a white men
dominated organizations. In seemingly an effort to sustain the existence of racial hierarchy,

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 6

denial of ongoing problems and inequality between the ethnic majority and the ethnic minority
are prevalent in organizations. Lowe presents us an idea that unconscious factors are impactful in
the segregation of white leadership and racial inequality in the workplace. The first barrier Lowe
explains to us is that our society still live in a racist society while unaware of its ongoing
existence. Lowe presents polls that suggests that a large percentage of the ethnic majority are
unconsciously racists. While these people would deny accusations of racism, there is a clear
distinction between what we say and what we do unconsciously. The polls suggests that
prejudice is still rampant and society and has not gone away. Unconscious feelings of racism
hinders promotions and development of ethnic minority leaders. Another barrier is the
glorification of a leader prototype. Ethnic minorities do not match the perception of a prototype
leader, which are usually white men, and are unconsciously dismissed as not leaders. Individuals
hire for positions based on an image of their unconscious prototype for the certain job
description. Additionally, ethnic minorities do not meet status characteristics and expectations in
leadership. Despite outstanding qualifications, an individual may not meet the unconscious
image that an interviewer may desire. Notions of stereotypes and prejudices are possibly
abundant when hiring for leadership positions. Society is susceptible to the unconscious barriers
of man which impedes the diversification of the leadership role.
Finally, Allison Cook and Christy Glass (2013), in another article, discusses the theory of
the glass cliff. Due to various factors, occupational minorities, women and people in ethnic
minorities, are less likely to obtain managerial and leadership positions. The glass cliff theory
states that occupational minorities are more likely to be considered for leadership positions in
failing and struggling companies. Companies tend to view occupational minorities as more inept
and less capable of leading organizations; however, struggling companies tend to lower bias and

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 7

allow occupational minorities opportunities to lead. This is due to stereotypes such as a woman’s
tendency for emotional sensitivity and an ethnic minority being more warm and relatable that
their white counterparts. Cook’s and Glass’s findings suggests that struggling firms more often
hire occupational minorities as the CEO. Fortunately, their findings also suggests that the
average CEO tenures between white men and occupational minorities are hardly differing;
however, they also found a trend that occupational CEOs in struggling organizations are more
often replaced by white men. These results would suggest an increase in willingness to adapt and
innovate leadership for several organizations.
Findings
Diversity in the leadership positions have definitely increased. Now, more than ever,
occupational minorities are appointed as CEOs, prime ministers, and even presidents; however,
we are still at the primitive stages of leadership diversity. The diversity in the upper management
is still minimal. There is still an inequality and a large gap between the minorities and their white
men counterparts. The proportion between white men and occupational minorities as leaders is
still outstandingly different. The literatures presented above suggests that challenges and
obstacles still face both women and ethnic minorities in their desire to climb the business and
political ladder. Fortunately, many organizations are taking the steps for diversifications. Many
have discovered the need for a larger diversity in leadership. Women and ethnic minorities have
talents and characteristics that differ from their white male counterparts. These talents and
characteristics are often needed for efficient and successful operations of a number of
organizations. We are shown that women work more effectively in diverse environments that
promote autonomy and empowerment in the workplace. Ethnic minorities may have obtained
different experiences and attitudes that would fit extremely well in certain organizations. While

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 8

the diversification have been minimal, large steps have been taken to ensure advancement and
progress in our society. We need diversity to create efficiency. The differing characteristics,
views, ideas, and attitudes can lead to better decision making and a more proper workplace
environment. The literature above explains that extreme changes must still occur but the progress
is certain and necessary.
Conclusion
Society faces a large problem in our inequality in the leadership position. We are in need
for diversity but our society is slowly making progress. The United States has three potential
female presidential candidates and our current president is African American. Our nation fields
successful female and ethnic minority CEOs and presidents of gigantic organizations. We are in
the process of progress. Out with the norm and in with the new.

Diversity in Leadership

Bautista 9
Reference

Perkins, S. E., Phillips, K. W., & Pearce, N. A. (2013). ETHNIC DIVERSITY, GENDER, AND
NATIONAL LEADERS. Journal Of International Affairs, 67(1), 85-10
Evans, M. (2015). Gender diversity a work in progress. Modern Healthcare, 45(17), 14-20.
Lowe, F. (2013). Keeping Leadership White: Invisible Blocks to Black Leadership and Its Denial
in White Organizations. Journal Of Social Work Practice, 27(2), 149-162.
doi:10.1080/02650533.2013.798151
Pegues, D. A., & Cunningham, C. L. (2010). Diversity in Leadership: Where's the Love for
Racioethnic Minorities?. Business Journal Of Hispanic Research, 4(1), 12-17.
Cook, A., & Glass, C. (2014). Above the glass ceiling: When are women and racial/ethnic
minorities promoted to CEO?. Strategic Management Journal, 35(7), 1080-1089.
doi:10.1002/smj.2161
Cook, A., & Glass, C. (2015). Diversity begets diversity? The effects of board composition on
the appointment and success of women CEOs. Social Science Research, 53137-147.
doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.05.009
Perkins, S. E., Phillips, K. W., & Pearce, N. A. (2013). ETHNIC DIVERSITY, GENDER, AND
NATIONAL LEADERS. Journal Of International Affairs, 67(1), 85-10