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‘Tapestry’ reports on multicultural women

Wednesday, October 22, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Most companies in the retail and consumer goods industry overlook the unique contributions and challenges of multicultural women, according to a new report released by the Network of Executive Women at the NEW Leadership Summit 2014 in Atlanta.

"Tapestry: Leveraging the Rich Diversity of Women in Retail and Consumer Goods” reports that as white women make slow but steady progress, multicultural women can find their careers stalling out, as companies have missed opportunities to close the achievement gap.

Multicultural women have different workplace experiences and career challenges related to their gender and their race and ethnicity — and perceive the workplace differently than white men and white women, according to "Tapestry” co-author Ancella Livers, senior faculty at Center for Creative Leadership. "Multicultural women are much more likely to perceive the dual impact of gender and race/ethnicity on career advancement than white women, who are more likely to perceive only the impact of gender,” Livers said. "If white women only see the similarities they have with multicultural women, without seeing how their lives differ, they may be inadvertently supporting the conditions that hold multicultural women back.”

Multicultural women feel pressure to hide certain aspects of their life and are sometimes uncomfortable being authentic at work, added "Tapestry” co-author Trudy Bourgeois, CEO of the Center for Workforce Excellence. "In many cases, multicultural women deal with additional cultural, community or religious demands that make work/life balance even tougher than it is for white women.”

To nurture an inclusive environment and realize the well-documented business benefits of diverse leadership, retail/cpg companies must recognize the differences in how women perceive the workplace and promote changes to policies and culture that will leverage the talents of multicultural women leaders, said NEW President and CEO Joan Toth.

"To compete effectively, companies must do a better job developing and advancing multicultural women leaders,” Toth said. "Companies perform better when their senior leaders and board members role-model inclusion, support initiatives that develop diverse leadership and demand executive accountability for creating effective, multicultural, gender-diverse teams.”

"Tapestry” is based on research, interviews with retail/cpg industry leaders and results of an online survey of conducted by the Network that explored multicultural women’s advancement opportunities, workplace experiences of women and men of all backgrounds, corporate practices and the role of white women and men in closing the career achievement gap.

Download report 

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